Zoo update: Bald Eagle hoax continues

Last spring I used this space to document some of the noteworthy discoveries we made at our local zoo. A few days ago, we paid the zoo another visit. This is an updated report about the goings-on there. Click here to see the original report.

Bald Eagle Hoax Flourishes

The Bald Eagle is still not bald. If anything, his hair is fuller and wavier than ever. This debunks a theory I had that maybe his name was just a little off and he was merely a Balding Eagle. In this theory, time would eventually catch up with him and we would find him straining to catch hopeful glimpses of the crown of his head in a mirror.

bald eagles at the zoo

He’s retired now, but the guy on the right used to make good money singing “If you want my body, and you think I’m sexy . . .”

This theory is now destroyed. His coiffure is more lush than ever. He seems to take pride in letting it flow freely in the breeze. Good for him. After his brilliant victory over endangerment, he deserves to flaunt his endowments.

closeup of zoo eagle

Right down to the bridge of his nose – how’s that for a non-receding hairline?

Tortoise Can’t Wait for Hares Any Longer

The tortoise is suspiciously absent from his pen. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has made a break for freedom and is most of the way to Mexico by now. When you are as deceptively quick as that tortoise, you will eventually get your opportunity to fly to your dreams. Vaya con Dios, Speedy!

After a long summer’s nap, the hares have roused themselves into a state of semi-consciousness. A combination of cold weather and general itchiness has caused them to rage against their natural lethargy long enough to change positions in anticipation of their long winter’s nap. When they receive the tortoise’s postcard from Acapulco, explaining that he couldn’t take them along because they stood no chance of keeping up with him, they may regret their laziness, but I doubt it.

zoo hare

“Must . . . drag . . . self . . . to . . . new . . . sleeping . . . position.”

hare scratching neck

If hares sang the blues, it would sound like this: “Woke up this mornin’, scratched my ear, and I lay back down.”

Train is Still Most Popular Zoo Animal

Four-year-old boys are just as fascinated by trains as three-year-old boys were. Though zoo animals will always be mildly interesting, they will never be trains. When a train passed on the tracks beside the zoo, we overlooked the Yak and watched the main attraction. The Yak shouldn’t take it personally. Last time it was the meerkats who got overshadowed by the train; next time it could be the lions.

lioness sleeping at zoo

“Go watch a train or something, kid. I’m trying to get some rest.”

boy pointing to train at zoo

Here’s the boy, making sure we all look at the train passing behind the farm area. That black blob in the center distance is a Yak, which might as well be invisible when there is a train passing.

If you can stand the chilly weather, a brisk autumn day is a great time to visit the zoo. There aren’t many people out, so you can get around very quickly, and the kids don’t have to squeeze in front of taller spectators. Our four-year-old enjoys visiting the zoo when it’s not crowded. He loves going to the zoo to see the trains.

stone turtle

Riding giraffes is so three-year-old. Four-year-olds wrestle turtles.

Zoo of shattered illusions

Our local zoo is free during the winter. Since we had a 70+ degree winter day on Saturday, we decided to take the boy out to see how the animals are getting along. All I was looking to get out of it were a couple of hours of family fun. What I got was the crumbling of the pillars of my understanding of the animal kingdom. Apparently, everything I thought I knew about animals and zoos is based upon myth. Here is a small sampling of how my world got turned upside down.

Bald Eagle

This eagle is anything but bald. If his head were black, he would be the Fonzi of the bird world. I don’t know, maybe back before Rogaine he had a receding hair-line. But after a few visits to the Bosley Treatment Center, his wavy locks are back. Now the lady eagles can’t resist him, and with the way he’s got it goin’ on, the species is in far less danger of becoming extinct.

The famous "bald" eagle.

For your reference, this is a more accurate representation of bald and eagle. Bald – foreground. Eagle – background (lower right).

Everybody sing: "I want to know what bald is. I want you to show me."

Tortoise and Hare

We all know the respective reputations of the tortoise and the hare. Guess what? It’s all wrong. The tortoise did not win the race because the hare got cocky and lazy. The tortoise won because his speed was vastly under-rated and the hare was lazy long before he got cocky. In fact, I could find no evidence that hares are ever faster than tortoises.

I can’t show you the video we took of the tortoise and hares because I don’t own the blog upgrades necessary to post it, so you’ll have to rely upon my vivid prose to paint the picture. The tortoise was running around his area like a madman, chasing trespassing peacocks out of his yard, weaving like a sports car, turning on a dime. A little girl was heard to proclaim, “That turtle is on the move!”

The hares were resting from a hard day of resting. One of them tried to rise, but his frail legs seemed unequal to the task and he lay back down. Another took a lethargic swipe at the back of his ear with his rear paw. He missed. Either his ear didn’t itch badly enough to make him care to take another swing at it, or he was just too sleepy. In the next fable I come across, I’m betting on the tortoise, even if the hare seems like he’s taking the race seriously.

Kids are fascinated with zoo animals

This is not 100% myth; my son did seem quite enamored of the tiger cubs. It’s not that he didn’t enjoy seeing the other animals, just that they didn’t inspire that special childish wonder within him. He was not at all above saying, “Okay, let’s see what’s next,” after staring down a lemur for a few seconds.

That tiger cub is tearing up a plastic sled. If you are a zoo animal and you want to be a hit with little boys, kill or destory something right in front of them.

To my son, the most fascinating aspect of our zoo is that it abuts a railroad track. Every so often, a freight train would roll by. No matter where we were, or what animal we were facing, my son would tug me toward the tracks. “I wanna see the train,” he said, as if there just happened to be this mildly amusing collection of animals right next to the most interesting railway line. If you want to know what it is that fascinates little boys, it’s trains. If a train happens to be transporting construction vehicles, the little boy is in nirvana.

I now consider myself to be righteously disabused of my innocent fancies.

A boy riding a baby giraffe: one of the few things you can still believe in.