When my dad and Audrey were here visiting we took an afternoon and visited the San Antonio Zoo. The weather this time of year is so perfect! (if you are in winter now,don’t whine, you know we suffer when your weather is perfect…let us enjoy it while we can get it)
The boys immediately wanted to go into the reptile house. This was Kira’s introduction to the animals at the zoo. I don’t like snakes, but some twisted part of me needs to study them as if it will help me overcome my fear. When I was in Uganda traipsing through the bush on land we “supposedly” bought (still no evidence is provided that we bought land) we passed through tall dense grass. Let me just say this area of Africa has green mambas. That’s only the most deadly snake on earth, a snake that moves so swiftly and likes to be active during the day. Not a favorable recipe for a girl in flip flops. I had a mild panic attack… maybe not so mild. So instead of turning back or calling for a helicopter, I asked the guide who lives on the land, to trade me his rubber boots for my flip flops. He did, and we carried on.
When Papa held Kira to see the reptiles, she was entranced. When the snakes began to slither, she jumped back and squealed, hid her face, and pulled away. She was most afraid of the lizards. We didn’t traumatize her on purpose, even though she didn’t like it, she continued to show interest in seeing more.
I kept thinking for a child who is not yet two she has incredible focus and interest in learning about the environment around her. She wasn’t acting silly and running around, her mind was completely engaged in the zoo the entire two hours we were there. I cannot get this out of my mind. It’s time for her to go to school! In a sense that a two year old can study, she needs more access to nature, and hands on learning. It’s exciting for me to see her gears crank in her mind and know I can offer her anything she wants to learn.
When we came to the Africa exhibit the boys scoffed, “why should we go in there? We have been to Africa on safari”. While that is true, Kira still loves the elephant. If I ask her “what does an elephant say?” She thrusts her arm (trunk) up in the air and blows a loud raspberry with her lips. When we got to the elephants she made this gesture over and over again, and squealed with delight as the elephant used his trunk to feed his mouth some hay. She watched him, motionless, for fifteen minutes.
I was at the zoo for the entertainment of our sweet Kira, and I appreciate the ability to show her the animals in this world. The educational opportunity of a zoo is so valuable. But… it’s really hard for me to reconcile the feelings I get when I see the animals enclosed. After seeing a hundred elephant on a hillside over the Nile River moving in a family group, and thriving in their natural environment, it’s a sad feeling to see them in a zoo. I’m never sure what to do with those feelings.
The hippo exhibit offers an interesting way to observe them at our zoo. We can see through glass to observe them under water, and then go upstairs and outside to see them from the top. There are two hippos and the amount of water is sadly small. Again, my mind goes back to the four safari’s I’ve taken on the Nile River in Uganda, and when I see the hundreds of hippos line the Nile edge, and feel the danger and excitement of sharing the river with them, it’s hard for me to enjoy looking through glass. But Kira loved it! And that’s why I hope to take her to the zoo several times a month. Having a little one again to open up all the world has to teach her of God’s creation is so exciting for me to offer her. As a mom, I favor this age of two and a half to five when they get a good grasp of life, and they organize in their mind all they learn with their five senses how to find their little fit in a big wide world. It’s going to be fun!