Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Up Close at the Zoo

Back in August, Matt and I went to a really fun fundraiser at our local zoo. The fundraiser is called Art on the Hoof and benefits one of the zoo keeper associations. Local artists donated animal themed art of all varieties - paintings, sketches, photography, murals, sculpture, pottery, etc. All the art is on display at the event. Every couple's name is put into a bowl, and as the main event of the evening, names are drawn out. As your name is drawn, you get to pick out a piece of art to take home with you. I was thrilled to get a painted footprint of Maggie, one of the zoo's hippos that had recently died. (You can see me with Shannon and our art on her blog! She is a bit more timely in blogging about events...). I also got to meet the hippos' zookeeper April and talked to her for a bit about how special Maggie was. There was also a silent auction. Matt and I opened up the bidding on a up-close experience with the elephants. We were quite surprised and pleased that no one else bid on the item, and we won!

Last week we got to have our up-close experience. The kids loved it. We started out talking to the elephant zookeeper and learning about elephants. The kids favorite fact is that elephants wear mud as sunscreen. The zoo has two elephants. One elephant named Lucky is not so fond of visitors. She even flung dung at us while we were waiting! The kids thought it was hilarious. The keepers led Lucky to another area, and we got to go beyond the viewing fence to meet the other elephant Kimba. We got to feed Kimba carrots which she took out of our hands with her trunk. Then we all got to help give Kimba a pedicure. We scraped the dirt from the bottom of her foot, cleaned her foot with a bristly brush, and applied a lotion to her toenails. The keeper also brought out an old tooth, a piece of broken tusk and some elephant tail hairs for us to feel. It was an amazing experience!

But the day got even better. We strolled around other parts of the zoo and went into the hippo house. I saw the zookeeper that I had met at the fundraiser. She was just getting ready to feed the hippos, so she let us help! Feeding a hippo consists of the hippo opening her mouth (hippo fact - they can open their mouths 150 degrees!) and you throwing food in. The kids each threw a cabbage in while Matt and I got to throw in whole cantaloupes! It was pretty amazing to be so close to a hippo mouth!

It was an amazing VIP experience that I hope we can repeat again someday.


The Cole Mine said...

As you know, I think our Zoo is super duper cool. Glad you guys had fun with Lucky & Kimba (despite the poop slinging)! :)

Angela Miller said...

Wow! What an experience. Keegan would have been in heaven!

Penny said...

Great stuff! We had a friend who was keeper for the lions at our zoo - we got to go back with him and see them up close. They had cubs at that stage which was really neat - they were trying to roar at us but only managed a kind of squeaky growl. And then one puked! LOL!

Jen said...

How cool is that!

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PopMom said...

What a great experience for the kids!! I wonder if most local zoos do the same thing?

Anonymous said...

That is sooo cool! I love the hippo picture.

Crunchy Domestic Goddess said...

that is so cool! looks like everyone enjoyed themselves.