How I Fell In Love At The Zoo Shooting Gorillas

I tried to spend the morning writing a 1,000 word Flash Fiction piece for a contest. As a mom with kids though, that is not always feasible. I did the usual of threatening them with a nap and then promised them to go somewhere if they left me alone to finish. Writing, however, is never REALLY done. I got the kids ready, emptied my backpack and threw in our water bottles, camera, chicken vienna sausages, and some cheese its and off we went.

Of course, the teen daughter was not up for it (oh the horror of being seeing out in public with your mom and younger brothers) and my oldest son worked third shift the night before and still in zombie mode (#5 child is still staying with my dad; he loves the Gorge and probably will never want to return). I was really low on gas, but decided to wing it since we were getting a late start and it was not one of their late nights.

We got in the gate and so much had changed since we were last here, that I was unsure of which way to go. I had planned to let them ride the carousel because my nine year old had been teasing my six year old that he had never ridden on one (although I am sure he had, but was too young to recall). However, The Louisville Zoo now has the Splash Park, so we were trying to figure out the quickest path to take to get there and ended up bypassing the carousel. The kids were as much into the animals as I was that we were not sure if we would make it to the Splash Park before it closed thirty minutes prior to the zoo closing. The kids were fine with it and so I pulled out my camera and felt comfortable to take some time getting photos. Although at times, they would rush me along, or tap my arm while trying to take a photo because they wanted me to photograph something else. DSCF3489 DSCF3490 The Louisville Zoo now has animatronic bugs tucked away among bushes and wood piles all over. We first saw the Dragon Fly; my personal favorite. The bugs were so cool with their motion and sounds. It was my oooo and aawwee geeky moment; a mom is entitled to a few in life. DSCF3499 DSCF3491 DSCF3494 And then there were the Louisville geese. Louisville has been inundated with geese for about two years now. They never migrate anywhere; Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter they are here. Of course! They came to Louisville, Kentucky and figured there was no better place to be. All the kids saw these guys and began chasing them until they picked up wings went over the fence and right into the giraffe’s pool. Lucky for them, the giraffes were inside. DSCF3492 DSCF3493 Here we have an Asian Lady Beetle. Looks similar to a lady bug but more of an orangish color. Back when I lived in Bardstown, a huge farming community. These things would make their way into our home during the cold months and crowd around light fixtures, corners and ceiling fans. They are harmless and so I would let them stay until the weather warmed up, and then they would head out to fields to eat crop destroying aphids. DSCF3495 DSCF3496 Tarantulas are just freaking cool! I had a friend in the Army who kept one in his barracks; which got me hooked on them. I wanted one so bad and saved my money up, but my idea was shot down by my mom who was already exasperated by my snake catching. The boys tried to do a scared look. My older one here did ok, but the little one is not scared of anything so it was hard for him to even fake it. DSCF3498 DSCF3497 The Addex are the usual docile creatures here; happy with our delicious Bluegrass and weeds. I laugh though when some people I know call them Gazelle… like any “deer” looking creature is automatically a gazelle. The kids thought they were pretty, but ready to move on when the saw the sign point to Gorillas this way.

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We first had to stop to see the Bongo and pay our tributes. It was my mom’s favorite animal here; I am sure because my mom was a fashion diva and loved their coloring of burnt orange and black accents with white stripes, not to mention the unique curve of their horns.

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As we walked around the corner towards African Outpost, we spied a giant African Elephant. The boys were tickled to see one as they had only seen them on Wild Kratts.

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I have a thing about eyes and had to look this beauty in the eye. I love their lashes, but wonder about the sadness enveloped and caught by the wrinkles around the eye.

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Their feet are so massive! I was so happy to see no chain injury around their ankles. You hear stories and see the ulcerative scars, but fortunately not here.

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What is the difference between an African elephant and an Asian elephant? One is their trunks. The African elephant (the one in the forefront) has more rings and is softer. The Asian elephant (in the background) has less rings and is harder.

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The keeper/trainer of the elephants giving a demonstration and taking questions from the audience. The large ears of the African elephant, Mikki, is another definitive feature of African/Asian elephants.

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The Asian elephant, Punch, has the bumpier head and smaller ears. The also have a longer and more tapered lower lip than the African elephant.

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The African elephant with its bigger ears and more rounded head is on it when dinner rolls out. It was so awesome to be able to see both elephants and be able to note their differences.

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The baby elephant that did not make it. March 18, 2007, a baby elephant was born at the Louisville Zoo; the first ever in the zoo’s forty year history. At three years old, Scotty developed colic which worsened quickly and he passed away May 12, 2010. This was Mikki’s (the African elephant) baby.

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I love Passion flowers and was so happy to see these here at the Zoo. Last time I saw them is when I fell in love with them at the Botanical Gardens of Balboa Park in California.

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A yellow jacket landed on one. I was focusing and zooming in for a perfect shot, when my youngest son jabbed my arm to show me another yellow jacket on another passion flower. This is all I got. Oh well, it is nice that he tries to help me.

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More flower power. I am not sure if these are Cherry Blossom trees; tried to find out, but found nothing definitive.

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Lions! Tigers!… and there is a Polar Bear on down.

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DSCF3515Just like people I know from the desert; they take their naps when the sun is most fierce and the heat is most unbearable.

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The camels also took the heat of  the day as a sign for siesta time; or as the say in the Sahara, “Qailulah”.

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These two are African camels. I know some people who would be sharpening their knives for a meal if they saw these two.

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Camels are known to be ill tempered. They also make a gurgling sound in their throats to display sexual attraction. What I did not know was that they can kick in all directions and they can actually inflict a lethal bite.

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He is not dead I promise; I saw him move. This is a Southwest Asian camel.

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So, in the Sahara they have a belief that when a woman is pregnant, you must give her whatever it is she wants; even if it is “the milk of a bird” (yea, I know that does not exist, but the phrase is to emphasize the importance of fulfilling the demand). If the woman does not get what she wants in pregnancy, her child will either be fixated on the want or reflect the want. I know a man from there whose mother did not get the camel and he looks like one: the nose, the lashes, the big jaw, and even the bottom lip.

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This is not a Plains Zebra, but a Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra. They can gallop up to 40 miles per hour and jump a six feet high wall.

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This pair is Morena and Gibbs. They had a foal last year that was named Ziva from NCIS.

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Made it to the African Outpost!

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Now to head into the Petting Zoo.

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This is Dot the Aldabra Tortoise. She is the oldest resident of the zoo at 74 years old. The Elephants are in their 40’s.

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Titan the Nigerian Dwarf Goat born to Mabel this past March 2nd.

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My youngest son and Titan getting along; thinking I need one for some milk and cheese.

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Donkey! “Well, I have to save my ass!” Shrek.

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Eeyore!

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Hoping the donkeys will come to the fence for a petting.

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These huts are so well constructed that they actually feel much cooler than outside with just a fan in the ceiling.

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Nothing better than a Dung Beetle.

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The Siamangs are probably not as soft and cuddly as they look.

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So my sons joked that this was their sister. “Oh hey! What’s up? What’s going on? What are you doing? Give me the gossip girl, don’t leave me hanging. Oh, I see how it is. Seriously! You are just not going to talk to me.” We had a good chuckle and she agreed when we came home and showed her the photo and our commentary.

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She ended up being regretful for not coming with us and seeing the animals, getting some fresh air, and joking with us cool people. Ok, the last part were not her words, but I could tell she was thinking it.

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Getting closer to the Gorillas.

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Bamboo grows very well and sometimes too well here in Kentucky.

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Kentucky Coffee Tree

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A short cut for the boys.

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A Pygmy Hippopotamus.

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What a face!

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A Fake Snake in the Grass! Not funny when we have plenty of poisonous snakes here in Kentucky.

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An authentic hut and nice place to take a break from the heat. So very happy they have misters all over the zoo too.

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A Devils Flower Mantis

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My writing desk… yes being cheeky.

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Almost as tall, but never will reach that arm span or the same strength.

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When bro does it, he does too.

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It seems the Silver Backs are annoyed by people, so they sat with their backs to us.

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And showed us their rear ends too.

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I figured if they are ignoring us, I will ignore them too.

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One decided to get up and move.

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They ate a lot of grass.

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I tried to get see some faces.

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Then this one came over to me. I was so elated!

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He ate some grass and let me take photos of him.

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And then he looked at me. I do not know why that made me feel special, but it did. It was a spiritual experience for me. I later, looked up their names and am not sure, but I think this one is named, Sufi.

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He then sat against the glass right where I was and ate his grass.

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And then he showed me his back side too. My kids were now bored and tired of my photo taking, so we moved on; but I could have stayed there for hours just sitting next to him with nothing but the glass between us.

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A scorpion. These are my least favorite bugs because when I lived in Arizona I nearly stepped barefoot on one. Being from Kentucky, the only shoes I really really like are no shoes. I walk barefoot as much as possible. I went out one night to get my mail and went to take another step and my gut screamed to not put my foot down. I moved my foot back and there lay a scorpion.

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From Africa to the Artic. We are now in the Glacier Falls area.

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This is Siku. The Polar Bears are being destroyed by Artic oil exploration. Polar Bears are so well insulated that they can rarely be picked up by infrared. Their fur is transparent, not white. Each hair is a hollow, clear tube that transfers sunshine down to their black skin for heat absorption.

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Of course we have to “drive” the truck. It is in his hillbilly blood.

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What bro does, he has to do too.

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The three Muslim men that followed us the whole day.

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My miserable attempt to capture this Sea Lion swimming

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Caught him come up on the surface of the water.

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We made it to the Splash Park before it closed. Actually they extended the time by 45 minutes.

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At the exit, we find a Butterfly…

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A Chameleon…

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A Bumble Bee

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and a Lady Bug.

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You cannot leave the Louisville Zoo without first touching the wet and wonderful world.

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