Rebecca, who turned twelve yesterday, is not that kid. She unselfconsciously gets excited about animals- especially primates. She reads about them, plays games about them and chatters about them. When I asked her what she wanted to do for her birthday she did not hesitate.
"I want to go a zoo with chimps!"
This request is why our family spent the day at Southwick Zoo yesterday. It was the closest zoo we could find which housed chimps. We began practicing our chimp calls last week. We perfected the "hoot" and the "ahh" sounds and were ready to make some new primate friends.
When we arrived at the exhibit we began making our calls. The chimps completely ignored us. We hooted louder. The ignored us more completely. They played with each other and groomed. The baby frolicked around. The looked happy and healthy and wonderful- if not too cool for our overexcited calls. We watched the chimps for a while and then went off in search of some animals with whom we could interact.
We made our way to the tiger exhibit. The tigers were sleeping right at the edge of the fence, just four feet away from us. There was a wood fence, some grass and then a tall wire fence. Lily stood on the wood fence and dangled Teddy over the edge. At this movement one of the tigers opened an eye. When Lily started swinging Teddy back and forth he opened the other eye and stood up. When she began to swing him faster the tiger got into pounce position and was ready for fun!
It was at this moment that I warned Lily not to drop Teddy over the fence and just as the words left my mouth, Teddy fell to the grass and the tiger tried to catch it. The tiger hit his fence with some frustration and we devised a rescue strategy for Teddy. David ended up climbing the fence and reached over to retrieve Teddy who took his adventure in stride. "The tiger story will help me pick up babes." Teddy is a bit of a cad.
After that near tragedy we resolved to be more careful with wildlife. In spite of this resolve, we were once more dealt a terrible blow. It all happened in the petting zoo. The petting zoo which is supposed to be a joyful place full of squeals of happiness and laughter was instead the scene of caprine induced bloodshed.
When they saw the sign for the petting zoo, the girls ran right in. I decided not to go into the arena because as I told David, "Goats are the devil's animal." The goats seemed to love my children. The followed them around and ate all of the corn which my children offered. Knowing my affinity for anything lactation related, Rebecca called over to me that the baby goats were suckling her fingers.
"It's so cute, mommy!" she cried.
It was then that her joy soured as I heard her utter, "Ouch! He bit me!" By the time she came over to me blood was pouring down her finger and was headed for her arm. She tried to be brave and did not blame the vile beast which drew her blood. A zoo keeper said, "Not again!" and brought over an antiseptic wipe and some bandaids. Rebecca held her hand in the air for a long time before the bleeding stopped.
Happily, the goat injury was the last calamity to afflict our happy family. Rebecca opened presents, received birthday calls and had steak for dinner.
When asked about her day, Rebecca declared, "It was the best birthday of my life!"
Happy Birthday, baby girl! You are the best!