austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Pigeons plot in secrecy

I think we took our longest break in the middle of the day in the house for camouflaged animals, both those that live in deserts naturally and those that are insects of the kind that hide under leaves while packs of kids run through and tap on the glass. That's another of those exhibits that lends itself to watching patiently and quietly, which suited our temperaments, and which were in an air-conditioned facility, which suited our temperatures. Also they had water fountains. It was hard to resist.

The zoo is contiguous to a railroad line, which would not ordinarily amuse me. Where this did become amusing is that we were looking at some of the birds on display, in wire cages just outside a common house, and we noticed the sign warning that various of these birds were nesting and should not be disturbed so please be quiet. This is amusing when there's a freight train barrelling down about a hundred and fifty feet away from them. You hope the birds are Conrail fans.

One of the things that always amuses me about zoos are the local natural wildlife that is not part of the exhibit but that has tumbled onto the location as a pretty comfortable spot with relatively few speeding cars or irrationally excited homeowners objecting to trash bins being raided or the like. I've always encountered some squirrels in zoos, for example, even at the Singapore Zoo where I saw only three squirrels on the island outside the zoo in all the years I was there. (I never did figure out what the feral squirrels think of the ones in the Small Mammal house.)

Well, as we were at the bird exhibit and I was being amused by the freight train I noticed, ambling away from me, and in the rough direction of the train, a raccoon. I don't see many raccoons, particularly during the day, so running into one who apparently had a day trip to get to delighted me. Unfortunately bunny_hugger was distracted by something else and by the time I was able to describe where to look the raccoon had trotted into the bushes and was gone to the world.

Later on, and as we were getting to the end of the zoo's business day --- they were giving barely-audible-to-our-location announcements over the public address system saying they were closed --- and we got into several chats with a pair of elderly women who were debating the implications of something the zoo was doing for their backyards, I saw a rabbit hopping among piles of various cut grasses. I believe bunny_hugger did get to see this rabbit, although it too went for cover before it could be well-photographed.

There was a sort of petting zoo area where again packs of human children were encouraged to touch goats, although we refrained from touching ourselves. More intriguing to us were the display nearby of animals which had been through their animal hospital, some of which were even visible despite being in darkened rooms and us out in the bright of day. Also on the approach to the goats and similar animals was a tortoise sitting in the middle of its enclosure, taking angry bites of grass and chewing. Something about its motion, particularly its refusal to do more than rotate to get at new grass, suggested a Muppet figure to us. It was a bit disconcerting coming back later to see it had gotten a foot or so over to the left. We were thus forced to abandon the hand-puppet hypothesis.

We never did find the kangaroo. I think it was only as we were leaving that we remembered there was one to see.

Trivia: Sergeant Charles Floyd, of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, died on 20 August 1804 of what Lewis had diagnosed as ``biliose chorlick'' (likely peritonitis from an infected appendix); he was the first US soldier known to die west of the Mississippi. Source: Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West, Stephen E Ambrose.

Currently Reading: The Playful Crowd: Pleasure Places In The 20th Century, Gary Cross, John K Walton. Coney Island, Blackpool, and this ``Disney'' thing all the kids seem to be on about.

(PS: After way too much thinking about it, I believe I'm going to the Live Rifftrax Nationwide Event tonight. Anyone joining in?)


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