Thursday, January 10, 2008

Goin' to the zoo, zoo, zoo

You know the Raffi song, everyone sing along...

The one thing my youngest wanted to see at the zoo was camels. He's been talking about them for the last two days, and I've used the promise of him seeing them as bait to get him to settle down for naps or bed. But after a full tour of the Doha Zoo, we left without spying a single one. He was fine; he didn't even notice. He was happy with the lions, tigers (no bears), zebra, elephant, hyena, baboons, chimpanzees, etc. We'll have to make a trip back to our friend's neighbor's house or out to the edges of town where I imagine plenty of camels can be found.

I told a friend here that I felt like we were at the zoo where Curious George got in trouble for feeding the animals but then saved the day by finding the parrot that had escaped through the hole in the netting of the new rain forest exhibit. (If you know the Raffi song I was talking about earlier, you know the book I'm talking about now.) The animals were all right there, virtually at arm's reach if you dared. Only 3 or 4 feet, a low fence, and a wire cage kept me from the lions and tigers. I had visions of Ivan climbing over that fence to pet them while my back was turned and was glad, if only for the few minutes we were near them, that he insisted on me carrying him most of our visit.

The geese are allowed to breed as they wish and there must have been at least 100 or so of them. My first thought was how ridiculous it seemed to have that many geese at a zoo--strange to have geese at all, really, when you consider how plentiful they are in the States. Then I realized (a) we have camels at our zoos, so why shouldn't there be geese here; and (b) of course, they should be allowed to go forth and multiply. You want a natural habitat? Let them lay those eggs by the dozen if they want to, as long as its their idea.

But then we got to the baboons and it was like that scene in "Tarzan" where Jane is attacked by an entire troop of them. (Forgive the allusions to all things children.) I don't think there could have been fewer than 60--babies, adolescents, adults--dozens upon (sometimes literally) dozens of them. And with swollen rumps galore. It's easy to feel like the superior primate when you're watching these animals. But then I read this this evening (from Wikipedia):

"Baboon mating behavior varies greatly depending on the social structure of the troop. In the mixed groups of savanna baboons, each male can mate with any female. [okay, still feeling superior]. The mating order among the males depends partially on their social ranking, and fights between males are not unusual. [hmm... getting closer to us in the evolutionary chain]

"There are however more subtle possibilities; males sometimes try to win the friendship of females. To garner this friendship, they may help groom the female, help care for her young, or supply them with food. Some females clearly prefer such friendly males as mates." [clever little things, huh? more clever than a lot of men I dated]

But, you know, at least we can say we don't fling our poo, right?

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