Monday, May 7, 2012

It's All Happening at the Zoo

The Reid Park Zoo in Tucson, that is.  Once again Alex, alumna and zoo volunteer, was able to host the Cornell Club of Southern Arizona at a behind the scenes tour of our nationally accredited animal park.

That national accreditation associates the zoo with other exemplary facilities with whom they share best practises and experts and expertise and elephants.

Apparently, accredited zoos do not purchase animals.  Instead, the zoos trade among themselves, as Reid Park did with the San Diego Zoo regarding some elephants.  There was quite the kerfuffle here in Tucson regarding the breaking up of an established herd; the papers were full of how dare they's and it's just so awfully sad's but the people with the credentials seemed to think it was an appropriate move and I chose to believe them.  Certainly the elephants
that we saw
looked as if they were having
 a fine time
in their new home.

Our group was the first to get a behind the scenes tour of the elephant habitat.
Jennifer told us how they train the elephants to put their body parts through the doors - ears in the top skinny ones, trunks and feet in the lower ones.  There was a lengthy discussion of animal dentistry and silver caps on broken rhino horns.
The sun is glinting off the silver cap on his smashed horn... think a dental crown on the outside
The kids and the grownups were petting his very dirty
but surprisingly pliable self before we were distracted by a white peacock
The Crayola Kid amazed Mr. 8 with tales of his granmother's peacocks that looked more like these.
Our tour included the kitchen where we watched Sarah cutting up fruits and veggies for the beasties.
She cut away the bruised pieces more carefully than I do at home
(which may say more about me than about the zoo)
but that was less astonishing than the fact that the produce trucks stop at the zoo before they stop at the major markets in town. 
These animals know how to live well, it seems.
For the carnivores and the omnivores, there are edible toys like this Rat Ball
After being humanely sacrificed, the rats are placed into holes drilled through a frozen coconut and the toys are then given to the animals for amusement.
Not weird enough for you?
How about the giraffe popsicle?
 I'm sparing you the photo of the blood popsicle; you can thank FAMBB for that since the image of her reading The Burrow with her morning coffee and stumbling upon .... well... I'll leave it to your imaginations as we move on to something more palatable.
We fed the giraffes some carrot sticks
and made a mandatory stop in the gift shop before we hit Five Guys for fries and lunch.

It was certainly not a Reid Park Zoo approved food choice, but we enjoyed each and every bite.


  1. I saw the rat ball yesterday on your Facebook page and had to take a look at it again 'cause I wasn't certain what I was looking at the first time. Ick! I hate rodents.

    Thanks for sparing us the blood popsicle. I loved all the pictures and looks like it was a fabulous day.

    Happy Monday.

    Megan xxx

  2. Alex kept trying to put the rat ball away, but the kids kept asking questions and the grown ups were enraptured and enthralled by the awfulness of it all.

    We all may share the planet, but some of us do it in more palatable ways than others, it seems!


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