Thursday, December 27, 2007

Wild Animal Park, the day after Christmas

Thanks to my kids' grandparents, we went to San Diego's Wild Animal Park, a place that was developed for breeding animals from the wild for the San Diego zoo. Now their animals go all over.

It was a once in a lifetime day! I am, as I hope to write about, a girl from Interlaken, NY. Because of the wonderful family I married into, I have been to places and seen things I never dreamed of seeing or doing. They are a terrific family, much like yours. We love each other; we get on each other's nerves; and we miss each other and then look forward to time away from each other. Isn't that how families are?

On the next number of posts, I have divided the day into groups. If I didn't get this down and organized, it would end up being just a bunch of pictures with many of the memories lost. I hope you enjoy your tour with me and my family!

Giraffes and ostriches: love at first sight

Well, it was the giraffes I fell in love with, not the ostriches. The neatest thing about the Wild Animal Park that my inlaws took us to (thank you, thank you, thank you!), was the giraffes and being able to feed them and be next to them.

I fell in love. I think they are right up there with dogs now for me. But, don't worry. I can't bring one to school; we weren't even supposed to pet them. That's why it looks like I'm constantly trying to get them to kiss me; I was! I couldn't touch them but I sure wanted them to touch me!

More giraffe pictures.

I will do another 10 just because I can. I have about another 10 I could do. The giraffes were by far my favorites. If I could, I would have taken one home! The guide did say that lately a couple of them hadn't been that friendly to the guides, so she was careful of them, but then that same guide had that favorite one and you could tell she just loved him, as I did also!


This is the group that they have been so successful with in breeding. The interesting story here is that they had a male and a female for nine years, and they could get nothing to happen.

Then when a place in Africa was going to cull, a nice word for kill, a bunch because they were going to starve from lack of food and habitat, San Diego got them. When those twenty females showed up, well, guess what? In five years, the one male had sired 56 babies!! Why was it?

Just like the saying, 'It takes a village to raise a child,' it takes a pack of rhinos. In the wild, one rhino could not save her baby if threatened, but a group could. So, until there were enough females to care for the babies, nature wouldn't let it happen. Isn't that an incredible story? Once us humans figured that out, we were on our way to saving the rhinos--wow!!

So, as all the women said, 'Men, let us have our girlfriends!' We need them to help raise the young.

To real students of scientists, I'm certainly not sure I'm retelling this story totally correctly, but for the most part it is. Do, students, ask someone who understands this better than I for the true, true facts.

Monkeys, by my name!

Mr. Devoe is not going to be happy with me, nor my husband, because I can't recall all the correct names for all these guys. This group I'm calling the monkeys, and of course, they're not. I know some are gorillas....
Right up there with the giraffes are these guys. It was great fun watching them, beating on their chests, wrestling with eachother, and chasing after eachother. One was throwing sticks up in the tree. They just seemed to be having fun, much like we do.

The guide said something about them being 1.5 genes away from us, meaning they are the most like humans, well one of these monkeylike guys are. I can believe it. They act so much like us!! Another animal, the beest or giraffes or someone she mentioned, are 3 genes ( I have no idea what I'm talking about. Remember, I was listening, just like you listen to me...and just like you, I get only what connects into me. It might not be genes, but that was what I heard....) away, a lot! I wish I did understand what she meant. I will have to ask Mr. Devoe or Mr. Syracuse...or you ask!

U tube beasts

Have you seen the u tube video of the, is it a wildebeest, baby beast and the lions and crocodile? If you haven't, you should. It starts out very sad, but it ends okay. That was what I thought of when I saw these guys, and then, low and behold, the guide talked about it!!

These guys are the very most dangerous animals to humans in the wild...I think she said that, but these are the animals that will do whatever it takes to protect their young. I liked that. See the video.

Deerlike animals

Of course, I didn't keep all the names in my head. With many of these animals the two facts that stayed with me were their eyes and their rumps.

Did you know that predators have eyes in the front, facing their prey? Take dogs and cats. But these guys eat vegetation, so to give themselves a second of get away time, their ears have a second pair of 'eyes' on them. When they hear predators, they swing them around and the predators get worried that they are now the prey! Cool, right?

Many of these animals have white on their rumps. That's so when running from predators, their babies can see the white (their dark colors everywhere else are for blending into their surroundings) markings and can follow their moms. There is also a hairline on their backs that when it stands up, there is more white, an easier target to follow to safety! Now, don't quote me on which ones have this. I was only paying attention and absorbing only so much info!!


The elephants were interesting, especially because we got to see young ones. But, at the Syracuse Zoo where we are so much more closer to them, I think I liked that better. I can still remember taking our daughter up there when she was 4 and having an elephant reach over and nibble her. She just about flew up her dad's chest!

The one with the tusks is just about ready to have about 3 feet of them trimmed. The trainer was telling us it was time.

They use all positive reinforcement and they make none of the elephants do anything in the ring that they don't want to. This is a breeding place for animals and they have been very successful in achieving some gains with animals that are endangered or close to it. I was glad to hear that the elephants aren't trained just for the sake of us, but to learn about them and to engage them.

At one point the elephant, actually twice he did this, stepped on the wire. The trainer said that he could probably easily break it. The trainer ignored that behavior and then a minute later asked the elephant to do something else-he uses a whistle. When he did, the elephant was given treats. That way the elephant learned what was good and what wasn't.

(Did you know that psychology is used on kids too? I try it and then sometimes the straightforward, "Do that again and I'll be in your face with my voice" works better!) Just like elephants, people are the same. What works with one, doesn't with another. We all have to find the way that works best with each person we meet.


At the Wild Animal park, they had all sorts of birds. I cannot even try to tell you what they all were, but here they are. Beautiful in their colors!

The one that looks like an owl is not, though. My daughter knew it wasn't because the face was not many of you knew that owls have flat faces?

I am amazed at what kids know today. Yes, you'll hear me and others say sometimes that kids just don't know what we knew...and that's true, but you know what, you guys know so much more than we knew too!!

The key is knowing enough about whatever we all should know and then having our own knowledge too. Hope that makes sense!!