Over the years I’ve been only been to a few zoos, always while travelling. There aren’t many options to see exotic animals in Montana. Of course, I can just go outside or drive up the road to see a wide array of wildlife. Eagles, bears (though I’d rather not see those in the wild), bison, elk, etc… animals that often have their own exhibits at zoos with lines queued to see their majesty up close and in person.
Eagles always give me a giggle in a zoo setting. Not that they aren’t amazing birds, but it isn’t uncommon to see ten or more at once at our local landfill in the summer. It ruins the magic a little.
But the animals we can’t see here? Primates, lions, giraffes, exotic birds, crocodiles, hippos… they are the reason I go to zoos.
My first zoo was in Seattle when I was a teenager. I don’t remember much about it other than having the privilege of watching a hippo defecate quite explosively as we walked by. Otherwise, many of the animals were sleeping, tucked away from the humid summer heat.
Since then, I have added the San Diego Zoo, San Antonio Zoo, and most recently, Bronx zoo to my list. Other than feeding a giraffe at the San Antonio zoo, the highlights for me have always been the primates. When we come home at the end of the day, those photos are always my favorite. Perhaps it is their humanlike behaviors, or their stoic silence, but I always leave in awe.
This last week at the Bronx Zoo, their exhibits were once again my favorite. A mist had settled in for the day, keeping the crowds and temperatures down, and the entire zoo was alive. Big cats roamed their enclosures, a rare experience in my limited zoo visits. The lions prowled. The tiger sauntered a path through the grass before flopping down in the mud. A jaguar paced irritably through the trees.
In the gorilla enclosure, a pair huddled right up next to the glass giving ample opportunities for selfies though they refused to humor the spectators with high-fives through the glass. In the distance, another held court over the enclosure like a king.
As our tour came to a close, we stopped at the baboon enclosure. And then we stayed for at least a half an hour. There were five baboons: one male, two females, and two young ones. It was like watching a circus act. The young one, who were both still nursing their mothers, climbed over the rocks with varying levels of success trying to reach the top. The youngest tried his hardest to mimic the older one’s efforts, but more often then not he ended up with his rear in the air in the opposite direction it should have been. They picked on each other, helped each other, fell on each other, then took breaks to nurse and have their fur picked through by their mothers. All while the male alternated between prowling and preening, occasionally galloping across the grass to the top of the hill where he paced over his kingdom.
We could have watched them for hours. Even the peacocks decided to put on a show, spreading their tails and prancing around for the female who made the rounds past no less than four of them strutting their stuff.
The peacocks were fun. Where I grew up, we had quite a few peacocks, but I don’t think I could count on one hand the amount of times I have seen them strutting around with their tales up. It was a nice addition to what turned out to be an absolutely phenomenal day at the zoo. I love New York, and every venture to that side of the country is always a treat. This last week was no exception.