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Thursday Thirteen, Ed. #142: Zoo Snooze

April 23rd, 2008

Thirteen Things I Loved About Sleeping at the Zoo

My little Girl Scout and I spent the night at the Oregon Zoo awhile back — they have these overnighters called “Zoo Snoozes.” There were a few things I didn’t like. Sleeping in a conference room, aka Cold Concrete Bunker, with a bunch of Girl Scouts and their mommies who we didn’t know from Adam; the cold (it was early February), the rain (this being Portland). The “continental breakfast” — fruit loops and donuts. Yick. But mostly? It was a blast.

1) We got to walk around. In the dark. And say hi to the animals.

2) The giraffe? The giraffe is such a sweetheart. They let us go into the keeper’s room — he stuck his head through an open window so he was eye-level with us. Big purple tongue, big sweetie of a beast. He is lonely for attention — he lost his partner and doesn’t have a friend anymore. He seemed to really like the kids, and the company.

3) We made “cookies” out of meat for the Sun Bears.

4) We went into the icy-cold freezer to see all the zoo food, and they gave us a nutrition lesson in the zoo kitchen. Monkey chow? Zebra chow? Lorikeet nibbles? I had no idea how much prep time went into feeding the staff’s “babies.” (And they really do consider the animals to be family. I was impressed with their courtesy, their respect for the animals, their enthusiasm in talking with the kids about their jobs. A couple of them said, “When I was a kid, I always wanted to work with animals — and now I do!”)

5) We learned a lot about elephants. Elephants, one of the most popular zoo animals, are the one animal you should truly not, never ever, cage. (Ditto jaguars and cheetahs.) They need to walk for miles and miles to keep their feet and legs healthy, and what zoos — even the best zoos — do to elephants is criminal. (Also monkeys. Monkeys at the zoo break my heart.) (I don’t really do so well at the zoo — I want to free all the animals.) (Except the snakes.) (Sorry, snakes.) (And I would probably leave the tarantulas and hissing cockroaches alone.)

6) The kids got to carry around clipboards and do “research” — it was educational for them, observing the animals, trying to guess what they were thinking, about to do next, wanting, etc.

7) The farm animals were fun, especially the little goats and bunnies.

8) I liked having some time alone with my daughter. We try to do one-on-one with the kids as much as we can. It was fun staying up late in our sleeping bags, after a late-night snack of hot cocoa and popcorn, working on our knitting, giggling. She had a lot of fun, and appreciated doing something completely out of the ordinary.

9) The guides (teenagers) were goofy and thoughtful and knew lots of facts. They were great with the little kids.

10) The zoo at night is the perfect place to let your imagination run wild. I jotted some things down in my journal — observations, ideas — it was good.

11) I wanted to bring a hedgehog or monkey in to sleep with us, but no go.

12) In the morning, we found out it had snowed overnight. It was fantastic. The kids were giddy and the grown-ups were, too.

13) We hiked up and out of the zoo, and along the way saw a peacock, feathers out, happy and proud, strutting along the main path. Then we got to see one of the Siberian tigers we hadn’t seen the night before. They like the snow — it’s in their blood. He was so gorgeous and quiet — he lay staring at us for the longest time, as if to say, “Beautiful day here, isn’t it?” It was perfect. I’ve never had eye contact with a tiger before. (I was glad he was waaaaaaaaaay over there and not, you know, right up close.)

Happy Thursday, everyone!



That’s right, they haven’t come back yet
But when they do, they say they are
Going to free all the animals from their cages
No matter how new or modern
Even some pets, too
So if on your way home today
You happen to find…

A baboon basking in the balcony
Or a lion licking a lemon in the lobby
Or a python perched in the pantry
A wildebeest in the W.C.
With a turtle twirling in your tub
Don’t be afraid, just say you’re a friend
Of their friend

Joshua Giraffe, Joshua, Joshua
Joshua Giraffe, Joshua, Joshua
(woo hoo!)

— Raffi


  1. Giraffe Parade says

    Is it bad that this: “He is lonely for attention — he lost his partner and doesn’t have a friend anymore. He seemed to really like the kids, and the company.” made me cry? Life has been hard for me lately, but thinking about a lonely giraffe? Kills me. I’m going to try to go to the zoo soon to see him.

    April 23rd, 2008 | #

  2. The Happy Housewife says

    That sounds like a lot of fun! I wonder if our zoo does this?

    April 24th, 2008 | #

  3. Qanzas says

    I just loved reading this. Now I want to spend the night at the zoo and hang with the giraffe, poor guy.

    April 24th, 2008 | #

  4. Chris says

    That sounds like so much fun. My oldest niece would have loved that.

    April 24th, 2008 | #

  5. JaniceNW says

    How very fun! I do not think my 17yo son would want to do it with me though. :( I think I need to find some younger kids to play with! :)

    April 24th, 2008 | #

  6. Elizabeth says

    Trippiest childrens song ever!

    April 24th, 2008 | #

  7. nan says

    Hey! Hey! We have lost our raffi CD, and couldn’t remember all of the words to that song… Especially the end bit. You just made my day!! My husband plays and sings any goofy song he can come up with, he’s such a rock star. Joshua Giraffe is one of the reasons we’re still married, in fact! Honestly! Is there a website with all the lyrics? I couldn’t find one anywhere when I looked.

    April 25th, 2008 | #

  8. WackyMommy says

    Best lyrics ever. Nothing can go wrong-o, I’m in the Congo…


    April 25th, 2008 | #

  9. JaniceNW says

    Hey, I still love Raffi even though my boys are 17 and 19 and I still know all the words to Baby Beluga and Jump Your Jiggles Out. :) Yes I am silly, very silly.

    April 25th, 2008 | #

  10. Chelle Y. says

    My son loves the Zoo. His favorite is the Zebra.

    April 26th, 2008 | #

  11. mia says

    We have a similar event here, maybe I could make it an evening of fun…..on second thought, perhaps not.

    April 27th, 2008 | #

  12. Cathy says

    I also can’t stand to see animals in small spaces — just breaks my heart. It doesn’t matter how humane the zoo is, how much room they’ve tried to give the animal, it’s still awful. I want the perfect world, where animals are not endangered or threatened and they can fight back.

    April 28th, 2008 | #

  13. Barb says

    I would love to do #1. Just walking around the zoo and spending time with the animals when no one else is around. You’d get to see them in semi-true form. Nice post. I did 13 things of the alpabet.

    May 2nd, 2008 | #

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