Cheetah at The Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown, PA.
When Dan and Nicole asked me to go w/them, I was ecstatic!
They're always looking for volunteers.
Are bison the same as buffalo? I'm baffled but definitely not buffaloed into finding the answer.
You do want to plunge your hands into their deep fur to see what it feels like.
I interrupted Cheryl, one of the zookeepers, to ask her what she would do with the animal poop she was shoveling out of one of the animal's yards.
We recycle it, she said, either at a nearby farm or at the state hospital down the road, Norristown State Hospital, which owns huge acres of ground.
We went with friends Ken, Jane and little red-haired Kenny.
The eagles can fly free b/c their wings are clipped.
The regal bald eagle, no longer on the endangered species list.
Man-made lake. Nearby are rheas, a type of flightless bird from South America. See below.
Flamingos stand on one leg. Wonder if they make good household pets.
Emerging from the feed-the-animals enclave. B/c of my kidney tplant, I kept my hands in my pockets so I wouldn't be tempted to pet the beautiful goats with their full billy-goat beards, quite beautiful. Almost as nice as mine.
Did you know I B Singer wrote a story called The Woman with the Beard?
Cheryl told me that the two male peacocks that live at the zoo roam freely around the entire zoo, but sleep high up near the zoo entrance. Peacocks usually sleep in trees or on high perches. Is this b/c they are birds? Or so they can see their enemies?
Just called the zoo to ask a couple of questions.
What animals breed at the zoo?
Curator Dave Wood told me the zoo has had success breeding big-horn sheep. They got a new male last year who successfully bred with the female.
Elmwood is part of a breeding program, as are other zoos, to see if the Peccaries, a type of pig, will procreate. They are highly endangered, so they're hoping for a successful mating season.
Then they must find accredited zoos to find for the babies.
Dave's been a zookeeper for 21 yrs - including the Phila Zoo and a Florida zoo - but has been the chief curator at Elmwood for the past 7 yrs.
Hey, this is a good place to put my poem about the tragic death of some primates at the Philadelphia Zoo.
Since I organized all my poems in the accordion file, I found it. Now I have to figger out what category I put it in. Animals, I spose.
I found it under the category Death.
The poem is entirely my imagination.
THE DEATH OF THE PRIMATES BY FIRE AT THE PHILADELPHIA ZOO
Dec. 24, 1995
Bob, we imagine, got wind of it first,
ordained as he was in the art
of leadership among apes,
his senses still intact,
though he was only small
when they lowered him,
a polished black diamond,
down carefully fashioned ropes
from the tribal branches
he clung to that day.
decided to, anyway,
watching with calm eyes
his manhood rise about him,
ready for the brides
a quick tour of duty
and it was done,
not much fun,
showing him, in the end,
this junior Bob,
with a different crowd.
Other things prevailed.
Memory and sensation keen.
Who could sniff the blood
of a visitor's shaving cut
quicker than he?
Or lean with curiosity
toward the exposed pink flesh
of a passing family?
It was smell that teased him
from his sleep,
He searched his manifold layers
a match-up that would
explain for godssakes the
roasting of hot dogs' smell
in the middle of the night.
Wobbly, he lifted his head from sleep
dreamt that a small version of himself
snuggled near the hot shaggy body
of his mother
who wore an apron and
called him something other than Bob.
She roused him, dammit,
as mothers will,
wanting only the best for their sons,
she and that apron stitched with
"World's Greatest Mom"
bidding him from her
in the leaves
to see why hot dogs roasted
in the night.
He obeyed, a tactic
he found useful
in the Cage.
Limping over, his hip had hurt that day,
he saw the ice-clenched moon
through bars that demarcated
who he was and
who he'd never be.
Saw then the low-riding
gliding in like a ruffle
on a dancer's skirt
and knew the flame
Could they mount a defense?
Could they blow with a thousand breaths
and chase the invaders from their midst?
Bob, in his years of favor with
the captors and visitors alike,
drew a blank.
Finally, there was only his mother,
old and snoozing in the cool bower
of the tribal tree
She felt a might itch
surge through her flanks,
seared as if invaded by marauding ants,
breasts hanging low,
she scratched with both hands,
her belly's unquenchable itch
and saw once more
his perfect baby face.