A day at the Zoo
May 13, 2010
|Where strange creatures inhabit both sides of the fence
As we learned yesterday Indianapolis has some good things for kids to do, and one of them is a trip to the zoo. Today we joined several thousand local school children who made that trip - and we had as much fun as they did.
We arrived late in the morning and the kids were already there. In fact they were already taking their lunch break. Dozens of school buses crammed the parking lot and kids, teachers and parents were spread out all over the grass. It was quite a sight and one we enjoy - except it reminds us how much we miss our grandchildren.
The Indianapolis Zoo is well respected in zoo circles and it is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Association of Museums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Indianapolis Zoo was the first attraction in the country to achieve the triple accreditation of zoological park, aquarium, and botanical garden. The accreditation means it is recognized for giving the creatures in it’s care the highest quality living environment.
The zoo is also dedicated to conservation. It has been instrumental in saving the Amur tiger from extinction, and it is the first zoo to successfully breed the African elephant using artificial insemination. The grounds are beautifully landscaped, and the animals live in environments that are as natural as possible.
Information about the inhabitants is presented in a lively and thought provoking way, on signs that are bright and well painted. If a species is in danger the reasons are given and the solution to saving them is spelled out. Visitors are told what we can do to help in that effort, and when it comes to the walrus and the polar bear much of that has to do with reducing our ‘carbon footprint’.
The kids around us raced excitedly from animal to animal, taking no time to read the signs of course - but that will come when they’re older. Right now getting them engaged is what matters, and letting them see and learn to love and respect the life around them in all it’s forms. Some parents are setting their kids a good example. Others aren’t.
At the cage of the red panda (a beautiful animal we never knew existed) bumble bees were buzzing around some flowers planted between the viewers and the cage. A large man in shorts saw one of the bees and he took off his baseball cap and announced he was going to kill it. I pointed out all the other bees and said, “If you’re planning to kill all of them you’re going to be here a long time.” He looked kind of sheepish, put his hat back on and walked away - saving the bee, at least until the next Bozo comes along.
The zoo has a great dolphin show, and a large building devoted to the world’s Oceans. Indianapolis being miles from the nearest ocean, this is a popular exhibit. A well thought out exhibit introduces the visitor to sharks, and while the walls are covered with great information on sharks, there is a large pool where you can ‘pet a shark’ as it swims by. The pool has a ‘rest area’ where the sharks can get away from being petted it they wish, and the point is made that despite the hype, sharks are in much more danger from us than we are from them.
Normally we like to see our critters in the wild if possible, but since we’ll never get to Africa, Madagascar or the Antarctic the zoo is our next best alternative. It was a pleasure to share the experience with a bunch of happy kids, and fun to see their reaction to things. At the habitat of the Alaskan brown bear we were separated from the pacing bear by only a dry moat, and while the moat was deep and wide, it still prompted one nervous boy to ask, “Can he jump?” I told him, “He’s probably looking at us and wondering the same thing.”