Tuesday, April 10, 2007

To the goats, to the goats!

Phew, finally some time to write in this busy day.

We spent the last day of pesach at the zoo (and we weren't the only ones--we ran into another family from Z.'s day care arriving at the time we were leaving.) Z. got a family membership to the zoo for Christmas, and this was our first opportunity to use it (thanks, Mom!) It was dandy.

Z. associates the zoo strongly with her Cousin D. (who's my first cousin, which makes him her first cousin once removed), since we went to the National Zoo with him, his mom, and my mom when we were in DC at Thanksgiving time. He's 4 1/2 and she's 2, so when they hang out it's like she has her own personal superhero. No other Big Kid gives her as much attention. When I announced the zoo trip yesterday, I had to dissuade her from the notion that Cousin D. would be with us. (She has similar associations with Seattle friends of ours and museums, but I digress from my digression.)

The National Zoo is in better shape than Philly's, but Philly's does have a mighty fine petting zoo. There are goats and ducks and sheep to feed, chickens wandering free, and pony rides for the somewhat older set. There is also a partial tractor that you can climb in and pretend to drive. Z. was ever so slightly appalled that, after waiting patiently for her turn to climb up, it didn't actually go anywhere.

She adores feeding the goats though: peals of laughter as they mouth the kibble out of her fingers. Visitors can also go into the goats' yard to brush them. The fat little goats completely ignore this intrusion, since no kibble is allowed inside the fence. They are either dozing or begging for kibble from the kids outside the pen. Z. didn't mind being ignored, but there were so many goats that brushing was kind of unsatisfying. Everytime she got one dab in with a brush she noticed another goat that she hadn't groomed yet. How fabulous was it that the brush was purple? Very fabulous.

We also took a ride in the "Trumpet of the Swan" pedal boats (the book actually is set in the Philadelphia zoo, at least according to the signs at the zoo--I admit I didn't look it up when I got home.) This would have been easier with two moms, but we did manage to make it around the bitty island in the middle without running in to anyone else or having any toddlers go over the side. I was impressed that Z. was unhesitant about wanting to have a ride. She had never been in a boat before, didn't blink at the life jacket, and was completely placid about being on the water--she squirmed a little more than I would have liked, but just toddler stuff, not wanting off the boat. I'd like to do it again with another grownup helping pedal: I think I could let her enjoy it more.

The high point of the trip for me was on our way back. Z. wanted to see the tiger, responding completely to the advertising that featured a tiger's face promoting the big cat habitat. So we traipsed through the exhibit at just about noon, when all the cats were dozing, including the tiger, whom we first spotted with nothing but fencing and some bamboo between us. We waited a few minutes and were rewarded: he lashed his tail a couple of times. I coaxed Z. into the little shelter a few yards down the path, where even though we were further away, there was a glass wall and a better view. The tiger put his head up. He yawned toothily, he rose, he came down his little hill and drank, just a few feet away. And then he began to pace. In pacing, he nearly brushed the glass. He was perhaps four inches away from Z. each time he walked by.

This was too much for Z., who had to go in to see him. Of course, zoos do not make it easy, or even possible, for two-year-old people to do things like this, but Z. decided the first thing to do was to go back to where there was no glass wall. The fencing actually kept us farther away from the tiger, but there was only air in between. This was not any more satisfying, and I could see a big fuss on the horizon, so I did what I think any parent with a twenty in her pocket and a 10% off card at the gift store would do at this juncture.

I bribed her. It worked beautifully.

Leaving the gift shop clutching her new baby tiger, Z. announced "I want to go back to de goats." Next time, next time.


Jody said...

Sounds like a great trip -- petting zoos rock.

Trumpet does have a concluding section at the Philadelphia Zoo. He gets hired to do a jazz club gig for 12 weeks, and spends his days on the zoo's bird lake. (Truly, there is some excellent descriptive writing in the sections about his agent, the gig, and musical life generally when Louis arrives in Philadelphia. Although I'll never recover from hearing E.B. White pronounce the name Louie. Louie does not work at all. But I digress.)

Interestingly enough, the Philadelphia Zoo bird man is not an especially nice guy. Zoos in the late 60s/early 70s were, apparently, in the habit of pinioning any random bird that landed on their ponds, on the grounds of, well, finders keepers. Or so White would have us believe. (The crisis is averted in the end.)

S. said...

That's all ringing bells--the main thing I retained from the book was thing about the pinioned wing feathers.

I think I would have said Louie myself--Louis Armstrong and all.

Now I see fresh irony in the pedal boats--there is no way they could co-exist with swans in that little patch of water.