Monkey, Er, Ape See – Ape Do

Posted in animals on February 16th, 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , ,

To take a break from the vacation unpacking, I took the little ones to the zoo a few weeks ago.  We had a great time – oh how I love winter zoo visits!  There aren’t many people around, and the animals can act like the animals they are instead of worrying about the hoards of visiting humans.  Well, most of the time it’s cool to see the animals acting like animals, unless they are doing disgusting things like the gorillas last week – don’t watch this if you are squeamish, but I have to publish it because of how embarrassed the gorilla seems about her behavior.  I felt so badly for filming her after she tried to hide that I turned off the camera, and that’s when she got up and went and sat behind a post – out of my view.  Why would she do something so gross if she is embarrassed by it?  WARNING: it’s VERY gross!!!

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The chimp was another story!  His name is Harvey, and he is a senior citizen chimp – he just had his 52nd birthday, which is quite a milestone for a chimpanzee.   Despite his age, Harvey is quite playful and has a penchant for young kids.  When we walked over in front of Harvey’s window, he was sitting in the corner wearing a sparkly lei, presumably from his birthday party which had just taken place days before.

When he saw us, he pulled off his lei and came over to his window to see the kids and play:

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These videos were taken  almost a month ago, and I’ve been trying to get back to the zoo, but my oldest child has decided that the zoo is “boring” – her words, NEVER mine.  In fact, I’m wondering if I need a DNA test – how could someone with my DNA find the zoo boring???

During the week, I’m so tired and have so much to do that just writing this blog post is quite a challenge – I’m having a towel  thrown over my head by my 2-year-old as I write!  I think I fell in love with Harvey that January day, and I miss him!

EVEN BETTER THAN I IMAGINED!!!

Posted in animals on October 13th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We are back from Illinois; actually we got back a few days ago, but things here have been so non-stop that I’m not even unpacked from the weekend trip yet – working on that this week.  But I had to take a break and write about the super fun Jack Hanna show that we were able to see while in Illinois – after all my anticipating, it was somehow even better than I had imagined!!!

We were the first ones to arrive at Aurora’s Paramount Theater (a lovely old-fashioned theater with beautiful architecture – in fact, it was chosen  to be the setting for a few scenes of the Johnny Depp movie about the mobster John Dillinger called Public Enemies that was recently released), so we opted to stand in line rather than wait at the bar.  This way, we were first upstairs for our “Jamboree Lunch” and got first pick of our seats.  Seeing as how there were only two ways that Jack could get up to the second floor – stairs or elevator – we chose the table nearest both entrances.  We went to go pick up our lunch – peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cookies, fruit snacks, and chips situated in a safari hat – and came back to our table which had a bunch of little animal toys on it: lion rulers, a finger puppet zebra, coloring pages, and a parachuting tiger (oh how tempting it was to let him loose over the railing to sail down into the lobby… but Jack was due to arrive, so we were on our best behavior).  Once we saw that all of the kids at the event were going to be seated elsewhere, I scooped up all of the jungle paraphernalia and put it in my purse.  We put on our safari hats and ate our PB & J – did I mention that this event was designed for kids?  Had we known before we got there, we would have brought our kids, but it wasn’t very well organized and so we didn’t really realize it until we got there – oh well.  All was forgotten once Jack Hanna arrived!!  If you don’t know who Jack  Hanna is, here is a brief synopsis:  Jack Hanna is an animal guy, and he was the director of the now world famous Columbus Zoo from 1978-1992.  In that time, he put that zoo on the map; it went from being a place that even locals didn’t know existed to a world renowned animal facility, and attendance at the zoo increased by 400%!  He now travels the world visiting endangered species, zoos, and making live show and tv show appearances (his monthly appearances on David Letterman’s show are always entertaining!!), all in the name of bringing awareness to wildlife conservation.

So anyway, at the Jungle Jamboree lunch, Jack goes from table to table (preceded by a woman carrying a baby wallaby in a pouch and a man with a fox), and he comes to our table first!!  He had limited time at each table of course, but he autographed a little picture of himself, and we did have time to tell him how we saw him at Sea World on our honeymoon in 1999.  He asked if we liked animals, and my response went something like this: “Duh, huh huh huh”.  As much as I had been thinking about what to say to Jack, it happened to me again.  When I finally met him, I was dumbfounded and couldn’t think about the most important things to talk about in such a little time.  No matter; we would be meeting him AGAIN later that same day!!

So after that, we went back downstairs to the merchandise table, and Hubby bought me Jack’s new book (My Wild Life – it’s kind of a re-write / update to my favorite book, Monkeys on the Interstate.  But I didn’t have this new book yet, and needless to say now that I have it, my reading of the Harry Potter series has taken a backseat!), and we waited for Jack to finish at the lunch tables upstairs.  He came downstairs, there was just a few minutes wait, and then we met him AGAIN and he signed my new book, plus ALL of the books of his that I had brought along – and I had a huge purse full.  We explained to him that he is our favorite celebrity (“Oh, I’m not a celebrity!”  he said.), and the nice guy behind us took this picture (note that Hubby still has on his safari hat!):

Not sure what to do with ourselves after our autograph session, we were SO tempted to get back in line.  After all, Jack  Hanna, our favorite celebrity animal conservation personality was sitting within 10 feet of us!  But we wanted to give other people a chance to meet him, and I’m glad we chose to just stand there and gawk at him from the sidelines for 25 minutes rather than getting back in line – turns out that some people didn’t get a chance to get his autograph since he was whisked away to get ready for the stage show.  It just wouldn’t have been fair for us to be in the line twice.  He announced later that people who didn’t get a chance to get his autograph could just email his website and an autographed pic would be sent out.  No offense, Jack, but that’s just not the same as meeting you in person!  I am SO thankful that we got to meet him, and he is even more humble and down-to-earth than he seems on tv!!

Well, this blog post got lengthy, and I haven’t even talked about the stage show yet, so I think I will cut this into multiple posts as my little guy is finished with his ‘quiet time’.  Unfortunately for me (and my ever-growing list of housework), my 2-year-old has outgrown his naps so I don’t have nearly as much free time during the day as I need to get everything done.  So you’ll have to wait until my next post (or two or three) to read about the actual Jack Hanna stage show (best show I’ve EVER seen!!!) and the other stuff we crammed into our jam-packed super-fun Illinois weekend.  Until then…

Jack Hanna!!!

Posted in animals on October 7th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

While my girls are counting down the days until they get to go to their Grandma’s house, I am counting the days until I get to see a LIVE JACK HANNA SHOW!!!  Don’t get me wrong, I’m really excited to see family too, but I’ve been waiting to see a live Jack Hanna show for over a decade!!!

I’ve had the show tickets in the car for about two weeks now, since I was so sure that I’d forget them.  I’ve already packed my glasses too, so I can actually see Jack and the animals from my seat.  And I’ve been “cramming” all week – trying to quickly re-read my favorite book, Jack Hanna’s Monkeys on the Interstate.  If all goes well, I should be finished with it by Saturday when I see Jack.  Because we have tickets for a pre-show event called a Jamboree Lunch, I’m hoping for maybe an autograph or even an opportunity to chat with Mr. Hanna!  I know it’s a shot in the dark, but I’ve made a mental list of things I’d bring up just in case; many of them are from the Monkeys book.  Even if I don’t get an opportunity to talk to Mr. Hanna, I am ecstatic just to be able to see his show!!!  I really enjoy his appearances on Letterman every month, and I’m beyond excited to see Mr. Hanna live!!  Just in case, I’m bringing an array of my Hanna collection in case I get a chance to seek an autograph, but I’m not expecting it or anything – don’t want to be disappointed.  It would be nice, however, to replace our autographed Jack Hanna honeymoon memento.  Now I have to tell that story…

When my husband and I took our honeymoon to Florida in 1999, we were driving from where we lived in Illinois to Florida (which is a very LONG drive…  but for some reason, I cannot remember exactly what it was like to do that WITHOUT KIDS along…), and we were talking about all the things we would do.  One of the things that came up  was celebrities we would like to run into, and Jack Hanna was the only one we both decided we would really care about running into.  Once in Florida, we visited Sea World, and we were going to go into the underwater viewing area for  the dolphins, but it was roped off – “TV show taping in progress”.  Just before we turned away to head to something else, a worker lifted the ropes, so in we went, and the crew was packing up the cameras, and THERE WAS JACK HANNA!!!  And we were all alone since the area had just been closed off – no mob of fans to compete with.  Ok, so maybe Jack  Hanna isn’t the type of celebrity to have fans mobbing him wherever he goes, but to me, he is an animal hero.  His Monkeys on the Interstate book chronicles his creativity, his strength through adversity, and his triumphs (and failures!) he went through as he was building the once unheard of Columbus Zoo into the world famous, state-of-the-art zoo facility it is today – a fascinating read for anyone who loves animals, zoos, Jack Hanna, or who just likes funny stories!!  Jack Hanna is a marketing and animal genius!  But I digress – back to my story…

So we got to meet Jack Hanna, right there at Sea World.  I was not expecting it, so I gummed up and let my husband do the talking, and Jack whipped out an 8×10 glossy picture and autographed it, putting our names on it and everything.  Unfortunately, this picture was one of a few irreplaceable items that were entrusted to so-called “friends” during a move we had, never to be seen again…  but that’s another story and nothing I want to dwell upon now.

So yeah, IF I actually get to talk to Jack again this time, I have my list of things I want to talk about…  though it’s quite lengthy, and my brain will be swimming with basically EVERYTHING from the Monkeys on the Interstate book, as well as things I want to know about starting my own zoo – hey, that shouldn’t come as a big surprise to any of my readers, so lift your dropped jaw.  Those of you who know me realize that I have a pretty good start on one already, don’t you?  🙂

This is Jack at one of his Letterman appearances.  Each of his appearances on Letterman has moments of hilarity as Jack tries so hard to get in his animal facts while Letterman is busy making jokes and heckling him.  After decades of monthly appearances, the two have built a relationship of sorts, and Jack now brings animals that sometimes shock, awe, and even scare Letterman!!  Never a dull moment when Jack’s around…

Fun At The Jubilee

Posted in animals on June 21st, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

For the life of me, I could not think of a creative title for this blog post, so I just went with a logical one.  Our town has an annual Jubilee – a little carnival on the town square that comes once a year.  For all but 1 of the 7 years that we’ve lived here (we were out of town during that missed year), we’ve enjoyed the Jubilee, especially now that we live within walking distance and don’t have to worry about parking – we can come and go as we please, and it’s especially nice to spend a night at the Jubilee and run home for potty breaks rather than using the disgusting Port-O-Potties.  It’s fun to walk around the square and soak up the bustling atmosphere while chatting with familiar faces among the crowd.  Although carnival rides are quite costly these days, we are lucky that my husband’s birthday always falls during the week of the Jubilee and that we have some generous relatives who send him much-appreciated birthday money (which my husband is always more than happy to spend on the kids at the Jubilee).  The kids had a night of fun on the carnival rides, and there was an extra treat at the Jubilee this year –  an animal show!!!

I, like many of my friends it turns out, was thinking that the animal show would not be anything spectacular – a few snakes, a parrot, and maybe a jumping dog or two.  But this was more like a traveling zoo – in my backyard!!!  First, a disclaimer – I love animals.  But I’m not one of those PETA activists – I find most people like that over-the-top; you know, those people who spend their time protesting the “horrible” conditions of zoos, blah, blah…  that’s not me.  I won’t go into too much detail, but basically I believe in taking good care of animals.  I believe that most zoos accomplish that, and overall, I believe that zoos are a great way to educate the public about animals and get people to care enough to want to take actions that will stop the destruction of wild animal habitats and the killing of species throughout the world.  That’s it in a nutshell, and I’ll stop there since that isn’t really what this post is about.  My point in bringing this up is to say that when I first heard there was going to be an animal show at the Jubilee, I wasn’t going to go, much like when I refuse to attend circuses (I’m not an extremist, but circuses ARE bad for animals!!  But that’s a whole ‘nother post…).  So we were at the Jubilee, and there was a huge crowd over by the animal stage, and my curiosity got the better of me – so we checked it out.

Like I kept saying all weekend, it was like a zoo in my backyard!  They had a tortoise, a turtle, a huge python, an albino cobra, a monitor lizard (komodo dragon’s cousin), an eagle owl (largest species of owl in the world with striking orange eyes), a blue and gold macaw parrot, a binturong (rare mammal who is always sleeping every time I see it at the zoo – this is the first time I’ve actually seen one awake and in action.  They have an odd buttery popcorn smell.  I put a picture of one below if you’re curious.), a kangaroo, a monkey, a full-sized leopard, AND… a 4-week-old white tiger!  The animals seemed well-cared for and their keepers were caring and knowledgeable, so I was quick to become a big fan – in fact, I attended 3 of the 8 shows they put on while they were in town!  I would have gone to more, but it was tough enough to get my little guy to sit through the two we brought him to (especially when there were very rude kids standing in front of him – I was so mad!).

Saturday was one of my favorite days ever with me getting to take my kids to TWO animal shows and another one of my favorite things – a PARADE!!  I just love small town parades, and this one was especially great – the weather was perfect (in the 80’s, but with big puffy clouds and a nice breeze, humidity not too high for once), and two of my kids were marching in it!  PLUS, there was a vehicle handing out free stuffed dogs at the end, so we got one for each kid!  Best.  Jubilee.  Ever.  🙂  Even if I didn’t make my annual trek to the Dippin’ Dots stand this year – that should tell  you how much I enjoyed the animal show!

Awesome Octopi

Posted in animals on November 20th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , ,

While I’m on the subject of our visit to the zoo…  well, in some ways it wasn’t our best visit, that’s probably why it took me almost a week to get motivated to write about it.  A few of us were still recovering from the flu, while others in the family were coming down with it, so the lot of us that day were quite crabby!  But we did see some amazing animal action, including the often inactive octopus – he was moving all around his tank, which prompted many questions from  my kids, my husband, and myself.  I did a bunch of research when I got home, and I learned what I already suspected – octopi are awesome!  Here are some of the coolest facts:

•  The octopus has a short lifespan; varying among species from 6 months to 5 years for the larger species held in captivity.

•  Octopi are invertebrates, meaning they have no hard skeleton, and they are very intelligent creatures – considered the most intelligent of all the invertebrates.  They have been known to manipulate man-made objects, like opening jars or even solving puzzles and mazes.  Check out the following video – an octopus navigates a water maze by getting out of the water and going over the maze!  (The major action starts about 2 minutes into the video.)

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•  Because of the fact that octopi don’t have skeletons, they can squeeze their bodies (which is actually that bulbous looking mass most people mistake for a head – and it contains three hearts!) through extremely small openings.

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Taylhis’ Most Wanted

Posted in animals on November 4th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

During visits to the zoo, most kids will fantasize about which animal they would like to take home and have as a pet.  There are many reasons why exotic and wild animals should not be kept as pets, but being an animal lover, I guess I never grew out of the mindset of a kid at the zoo – I still think about which ones I would like as pets.  Well, actually, I’d like all of them as pets, but here are the top 10.  Since this is purely fantasy, of course I did not take rational things into consideration like cost or cleaning up after or housing the animals, where’s the fun in that?  While you’re at it, try putting your top few fantasy pets in the comments box below…  🙂

Taylhis Most Wanted:

African Grey parrot – Ugh, another large bird?  Do I really want more bird screaming to rile up the kids?  But this is a fantasy list, so I’m going to build a huge tropical aviary with a little river for my birds, no problem.  Members of this particular breed of parrot are incredibly smart, and their ability for exact mimicry is hilarious!  I once posted a video of a little African Grey character named Silvia who did an awesome impression of Desi Arnaz (Lucy, you got some ‘splainin to do!) as well as sarcastically (and hilariously) delivering the line, “Well loddy-frickin’-dah!

Manatee – My favorite animal; manatees are gentle and intelligent.  I find the manatee’s graceful movements relaxing and therapeutic.  Watching my manatee swim would be a great way to unwind after a stressful day!

Gorilla – Humans  have much in common with these intelligent primates.  It’d be incredible to get to know one on a personal basis.

Sea Horse – Well, these guys mate for life, so I’d like a pair of seahorses, which would then turn into hundreds 🙂  But many of their behaviors are truly fascinating to watch!

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Sea Lion – Like an aquatic dog, sea lions are intelligent, trainable, and beautiful swimmers.  And so cute!

Goat – I’ve always loved goats; now that we live nearby many farms, this might be a possibility some day!

Huge Dog – Dogs are the greatest, and sometimes it seems like the larger the dog, the friendlier.  So for a dog-lover without limitations on house size, wouldn’t it be great to have a beautiful 150lb+ lap dog?  I was thinking St. Bernard, Great Dane or Mastiff type dogs.

Octopus –  A somewhat mysterious animal, though to be intelligent based in part upon its ability to manipulate items like jars and toys for food rewards.

Alligator – Huge reptiles with a bad rap; I would love the time to hand-raise and train a gator.

Tortoise – I really like tortoises, and it’d be really neat to create an exhibit to house one of those super-huge tortoises.

Honorable mention:

Marmoset – a cute furry little primate.  Cute as he is, smaller primates are known for being tempremental, so this guy is a runner-up.

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So there you have it.  My husband commented on my list’s lack of felines.  True, I always blog about how much I would like a cat, but in the real world, all that’s stopping me from getting a cat or two or ten is my cat allergy, so that’s not really the point of the list – it’s more about forbidden animals.  Big cats would be too scary to play with – I had a little cat who passed away, but after watching how suddenly and completely her moods could change, I gained a whole new respect for big cats, so no thanks!

And I Thought The Sky Safari Was Cool!

Posted in Travel on September 20th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , ,

The Sky Safari is an aerial ride at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  It’s like a chair-lift at a ski resort, but lose the snow and add views of zoo animals; including zebra, ostrich, wildebeest and lions.  I rode on it earlier this summer with my daughters, mom and uncle, and we all loved it.  Speaking of travel, I’ve heard from a bunch of my Ohio friends about how beautiful the Hocking Hills area is in the southeastern part of the state.  We probably won’t have a chance to visit this year, even though I’ve heard that it’s just gorgeous in the fall.  It might have to go on the “to-do” list though after I found out they have this; a 2-hour zip line tour through the treetops!  Check it out – the first part of the video is the training and orientation, they really get going around the two-minute mark if you want to fast forward.  But it looks like something I think I would try!

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Match.com – For Gorillas

Posted in animals, Current Events on August 30th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

See if you enjoy this as much as I did – a group of female gorillas is given posters of their prospective mate.  How did they react to it?  Read:

From cnn.com:
by Nick Hunt

So when three female gorillas at London Zoo heard that they would soon be visited by a brooding French hunk — well, they went a bit bananas.

The latest development in Anglo-French relations sees Yeboah, a 20-stone 12-year-old, leave his current home at La Boissiere Du Dore Zoo, Pays de la Loire, northwest France and head for the British capital by the end of the year.

There he will be greeted by gorilla trio Zaire, Effie and Mjukuu, who were given posters of their prospective boyfriend for the first time Thursday.

One female gorilla shrieked in delight, while another wedged the poster in a tree to stare at it.

A third, clearly overcome by emotion, held the photo close to her chest — then ate it.

Their reception was somewhat unsurprising. The zoo has been without a male gorilla since the demise of Bobby, a silverback, in December.

Tracey Lee, team leader at London Zoo, put in a good word for the hirsute lothario on the London Zoo Web site, saying Yeboah is “a very charming, fun loving and intelligent gorilla.”

But whom will Yeboah choose to charm first?

Zaire, at 34, is the oldest female gorilla and has been at London Zoo since 1984. The zoo says she’s “happiest when she’s taking down and rebuilding her nest in various spots around the island. She loves to play with fabric and often drags it around with her all day. “

Then there’s Effie, 16, who “enjoys seeing toddlers and often makes her way over to the glass when they come to see her,” according to the zoo Web site.

Finally there’s 10-year-old Mjukuu, or “Jookie.” Dan Simmonds, a keeper at the zoo’s Gorilla Kingdom, says she “has this ‘butter wouldn’t melt look’ to her, and she gets away with murder.”

“The other two females get along with her very well; she seems to have them all wrapped around her little finger.”

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Above is a picture of the gorilla who hung up the picture of her new beau.