This is the song that has been stuck in my head since I played the role of Gymbo the Clown in the local mall Gymboree at age 16. (I got the part because I fit in the costume. And none of the adult employees wanted anything to do with it.)
So when the boys announced they needed to go to the zoo, Jon piped right up, “We’re going to the zoo today!”
We’ve been to the LA Zoo, where the seemingly one-legged pink flamingos enamored Search, and Destroy spent weeks imitating the macaws. We’ve been to the SF Zoo, where Search squealed at black-tongued giraffes and Destroy couldn’t take his eyes off the territorial hippo.
Today we set forth to the Oakland Zoo. Because why not see all of what our Bay Area hometown has to offer.
After only 45 minutes of putting shoes on, taking them off, needing water, hurling ice cubes across the kitchen, refusing a jacket, screaming that it’s cold, remembering that there is a stuffed dog upstairs and needing to run to the bedroom to prove it, we made it outside. Three more trips inside to retrieve the declined sippy cup, a failed potty attempt, and a sudden desperate desire for a single bit of a banana, and we were off!
We pulled off the freeway and turned toward the Zoo. Destroy magically woke up, “ANIMALS! LOOK there’s an elephant. We’re going to the zoo. We’re going to the zoo,” he sang as he bounced in his seat.
Blasting through the gates, flamingos squawked at us and fought one another for the puddle of shrimp. Search and Destroy were up and out of the stroller. The adventure had begun!
Keeping in mind the true trajectory and timeframe that any excursion with two toddlers takes, allow me to share the excitement of the day. (For a more life-like experience, feel free to get distracted by a shiny object or decide to suddenly become very whiney mid-sentence).
The tiger was first – dead to the world asleep atop a high platform (albeit with the carnage of some seriously damaged cardboard things just beneath his massive paws). The immobile big cat didn’t garner much interest. So instead the boys demanded Teddy Graham snacks and had a minor meltdown over who got which stroller seat. All without waking the tiger. I hear cats are like that.
Two blue and yellow macaws were wide-awake – screeching at the gibbon in the preserve across the walkway. The gibbon was flinging himself effortlessly across the tree branches and back again. He knew people were watching; he was putting on quite a show. (Zookeeper said even though he’s mid-30s, his testes never dropped so he’s a perpetual boy monkey. I am not making this up.)
We left our gibbon friend only when the chimpanzees went slightly bezerkoid. There was a blanket conflict. Maybe one of the females had cold feet. The siamang monkey behind us was perched way up high not doing much of anything. But when he hurled a banana peel 50 ft to the ground, Search and Destroy thought this was the most hilarious event of the year. (Note to visitors – watch for banana peels.)
At this point, the boys decided they NEEDED to see the giraffes. No other creature would suffice. Which was okay with me, because the warthog we visited on the way clearly needed some “alone time.” Or a friend. In either case, Pumba was having a private moment with his large bouncy ball.
Three camel’s grazed on greens while dotting the steep hill. We continued on to find the lion. RAWR. Unfortunately, the lion appeared to be uninterested in our quest and was MIA somewhere in the enclosure. We later spotted a potential furry mane from a different vantage point. However this may have also been a tumbleweed.
The Oakland Zoo has four African elephants. We were lucky to catch one during feeding time. Although, feeding time is approximately 16 hours per day. So it wasn’t much of a stretch…
We practiced our meerkat movements and stances and passed a poor single Green Monkey enclosure. His sign had a note that he’d been cast out of his primate family and was learning to readjust on his own while the zoo looked to find him a new family. Bullying. It’s not just for humans.
Both little dudes were highly amused by the “weird horsies” and “stinky dogs” – better known to many of you as the zebras and hyenas. The latter of whom were curled up in a ball. And did, in fact, smell rather rank. So pretty par for the course in living with our dogs at home. Except our pups won’t eat your face off and laugh about it. Ideally…
By the time we made it around to the children’s zoo, the muppets were beginning to show serious signs of hunger crankiness. So we blew threw giant tortises (torti? tortee?), persuaded boys not to bang on the side of the river otters tank and stared at some very hungry fruit bats (who up close are actually adorable – don’t judge me).
But the impending signs of meltdown doom were imminent. There would be not petting of the goats and sheet. They were apparently also in need of a snack and involved in a head-butting duel. We paused at the pot-bellied pig. Destroy licked the handrail.
To the snack shack!
Twenty minutes later, my sons were dayglo orange having enjoyed a full body outdoor experience of hotdog and Cheetos. They were ready and rocking – TO THE CHOO CHOO!
We made our way back through the zoo, in search of the Outback Express Adventure Train. Our last stop would be a train ride for my little joeys to see some marsupials of their own. We chugged into the Outback Preserve where Jon and I excited pointed out the emu staring intently at the train. All I could think of was Mike Rowe and his adventure with the ostriches. Seriously, one mean looking up-to-something bird.
Finally the train steamed past the wallaroos, lazily lounging right alongside the tracks. I started to tell the boys all about kangaroo care and how all baby roos are born preemie!
But it didn’t matter. Both my little monkeys were sound asleep.