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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Daily Chai Goes to the Fricking Lion Safari

Today's chai....who am I kidding? Y'all know I haven't been getting a chai since I've been on vacation. Unless a Starbucks springs into being in my basement, I'm just not going to go get one. Or...maybe I will. Wild and crazy gal that I am, I like to keep you on your toes. WHAT WILL I DO NEXT??? I know this is a question you are all asking.

Well, what I did next was take the kids to the African Lion Safari. When Kate was younger, she called it the Fricking Lion Safari, as do countless other children, I'm sure. Regardless of its unoriginality, she thought that was hysterical. The kids were so excited to go to the zoo and even more excited about the splash pad on the grounds. Sigh. I wish they understood that there is a free splash pad in Waterloo and that today was about animals. However, since it was blazingly hot today and we were all sweating and red-faced after the elephant show, even I was grateful to cool down in the water. Even in pee-filled, over-chlorinated water with a thousand screaming children running around parentless.

We loved the elephant ride the best and Kate said she wants to live in India and have an elephant instead of a car. She was so enthusiastic about this dream that even the handler looked up and smiled at her excitement. Kate wanted to know if people in India have cars or if they just ride elephants everywhere. Yes Kate, they have cars. Yes Kate, they still use elephants the way we still use horses, but they have cars. Millions of them. She was slightly disappointed about that.

As always, I was struck by the conservationist attitude of the staff. It shouldn't surprise me, these people work with animals because they love them, but today I appreciated anew the efforts to educate the public about endangered species and raise awareness about the plight of so many amazing animals. While we watched the parrot demonstration, the speaker was talking about the rare Blue-throated macaw, of which only about 130 mating pairs survive in the wild. To put it in perspective, she said, "There are probably more of you in the audience than there are Blue-throated macaws in the wild." And I honestly think she was near tears when she said it, her voice shook with that "trying not to cry" tremor and she had to swallow and pause before continuing.  It occurred to me that she makes this speech five times a day and still gets emotional about it, which speaks volumes about how much these people care about their work. Zoos have been a hot topic for debate over the years as animal activists rail against keeping wild animals in captivity and I agree when the animals are mistreated or abused. And the cynic in me thinks places like the African Lion Safari are, when it all comes down to it, just another business to make money, but the optimist in me wants to believe that they really care about the conservation of endangered species.

And no, I did not take Veronica on safari, I was not putting her beautiful shiny redness to baboon risk. When I saw one of those pink bummed apes sitting on the driver's mirror of someone else's vehicle, I knew I'd made the right decision to take the tour bus.


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