Today we are going to discuss the human-animal caretaker bond.
I'll get the psychic part out of the way first: the only animal communication I had was from a spider and from an elephant. The elephant, quite simply, shared, 'I'm gentle!'. (She had just gotten let out from her waiting area and gone to explore where the zookeeper had hidden the food, and was happy.). The spider was a fire-legged tarantula in the reptile house. That thing would not shut up. He spoke in English, as far as I could tell, although I am fluent in Spanish and might not have noticed. He was not happy, for in fact he was complaining about practically everything--the people, the small cage, and the like--but he was happy he was being fed and didn't have to hunt for things. He was making an adjustment. I never got a word in edgewise, but all in all I was a sympathetic ear.
There also was a very old man, possibly a first developer, who approached me from Spirit Side as I walked up the Tiger Trail. He came from the right, had a grey bushy moustache and a British Accent. I couldn't really understand his words because of it, but his energy had a general sense of 'how is everything with this place going' and 'I did something good, didn't I'. Of course! And I responded something in that vein back to him, and he went away.
The okapis were pregnant. That I knew by sight and by energy.
What struck me the most this time, aside from the animals, was the people. The workers, the tourists, the visitors, and how management approached this whole Spring Break' capacity crowd.
Although most workers were nice, I met one who was just nasty. She rang up our purchases at the store just on the right as you enter the zoo. There is a sandwich shop in the same space, as well as an often uncrowded, clean restroom. I called her on it--while my son was double-checking the hat he selected--I smiled and asked, 'Do you have kids?'; I knew the answer in advance by her behavior to my boy. I said, 'It is not like anything you would think--you have to adapt and be more flexible than you ever thought possible.'. She didn't get that, but she toned down the attitude. And she had SEEN my card with the 'President's Partner's (read 'Big Donor')' on it and did not 'get' that she was dealing with someone who helps make this zoo run.
The crowds were remarkably calm and happy, queuing up with no irritability at all. But they were very 'into' their own 'thing'. I saw a lot of beer cups in the hands of the men. Funny, alcohol did not used to be served there, I recall, except in Albert's sit-down restaurant... There was not much interaction between any of the crowd in general. There were a lot of parents there, with their children. So for the most part, I would say the energy of the crowd was high 3D/Lower 4D. It was an animal-loving crown having fun with their families.
Here is where I get to say a bit about the management. The bathrooms were shockingly filthy and one family one (very important for a single mother and eight-year old son) was completely out of both rolls of toilet paper throughout the day. This is where the 'mouse amusement park' aces it in crowd satisfaction. There is always someone in there cleaning it up. But not here. Bring tissues with you just in case you get 'stuck'.
The other is with the food. For some reason, all of the food at the zoo is awful. There are different kinds of awful. There is the ten-dollar unlimited free soda refill oversize reusable cup vs. the five dollar and a quarter option to buy a regular cup of soda. That, in my opinion, is a shell game, a ruse, a nasty business trick. Especially when a small bottle of water is three ninety-nine!
I had a veggie burger and the person at the counter asked 'cheese or guacamole on it?' Right on.
The french fries were awful. We ate them, but did not enjoy them at all. There was a strange flavor to them that we didn't like.
Basically, my concern is that for a place that is dedicated to the lives of healthy animals, why is there so much poison in the food they sell for us? Churros? Ice cream on a stick?. Frozen Lemonade? Meat-meat-meat, most of it not the 'good kind'? I think it is because it makes the zoo money because the people want to buy it; they do not understand the kind of poison society has been feeding them. I would be too painful to discover the truth, and so they chomp away and spend their money. There is only one restaurant in the park that has 'local, fresh. organic' suppliers, even from the angus beef and chicken. It is the Saber Tooth grille by the Elephant Odyssey. I checked it out. The energy there was awful! I could not eat. It was in the category my anesthesia professor who was a vegetarian once said: they ruin perfectly good food there.
What do I recommend? Bring food that won't go bad, bring it in the park, and put it in a locker. Nobody uses the lockers. Then when it is time to eat, have your own food. My organic apple was a welcome change when I had it; my hemp granola bar was really handy when were were at the exhibit and far from any food, too.
I know that all proceeds go to support the animals. But why not take the money you would spend on food purchases, and buy yourself something really nice from the gift shop?
i got mine--a smoothie cup with lots of pandas on it. It's bright red. And has a straw. It kind of looks like a reusable cold drink cup at Starbucks. I always enjoy something to help me start my day.
And about the whole animals and zoos and all that stuff, philosophically? We are their caretakers. Some of our brothers and sisters have turned themselves into poachers and hunters and 'steal your habitat me-or-you-I-win' kind of people. As caretakers, in the wild, we suck at it! In the zoo, there is constant movement to recreate the wild, and also to enhance reproduction and perpetuate the species.
Until there is a time when the wilds are 'safe', I support zoos.
I want them regulated, of course, so the animals are well-cared for.
There was a zoo expedition in 1922 or 1928 to the Galapagos Islands. Eighteen giant tortoises were taken. All eighteen are still alive. They are over one hundred years old. Most are still at the exhibit at the zoo. The others, for genetic reasons and breeding purposes, are living in other zoos.
I used to study at the zoo when I was in medical school. They had a 'student pass' that was under twenty bucks. It was good for both parks. I used to take my books and sit on the bench that faced the waterfalls at the base of the gorilla exhibit. I love waterfalls. The energy there is fantastic! I hope one day you may experience it, too.
If I had my dream come true, I would be an anesthesiologist for the big animals. I already gave anesthesia to the mama panda, Bai Yun once, while I was doing my fellowship. She has the sweetest energy and spirit. While she woke up from anesthesia, and was in her cage (you don't want to piss a panda off!), I held her little paw until she woke up. I whispered a special wish for both of us into her ear. And guess what? It came true for both of us--her more than me--but both of us have our little cubs to hold and to love and to teach and to help grow...