On Thursday, I sent Steady an e mail. It said "I want to go to the zoo. This weekend, will you go to the zoo with me?" He doesn't actually write much e mail, so when I got home from work, he said we could go to the zoo on Saturday.
I immediately broke into the song that ran on the commercials for the Cincinnati Zoo when I was a child. ("We're goin' to the zoo, zoo, zoo. We're goin' to the zoo, zoo, zoo.") My singing voice is not so pretty, by the way. (Once, while singing as part of a group of 15 or so at camp, I was implored, along with two other counselors, by a ten year old girl, to please be quiet so she could hear the good singers.)
Saturday morning dawned, my head was a mess from the damage done Friday night, but we were going to the zoo! Steady even sang about it in the shower Saturday morning (an original composition, mostly). We were very excited.
I got online and researched our trip. I had read a bit about The Phoenix Zoo, mostly about how it was a terrible place to be an animal. You know, porcupines dying of starvation (uh, apparently, it's hard to tell when they get skinny, what with the quills and all) and shit.
I'd only been to the Cincinnati Zoo, which I am told (by native Cincinnatians) is absolutely one of the nicest in the country. I'd never seen any animals behind bars or anything. I questioned Steady about what I was about to see. He reminded me that he hadn't been to the zoo in the last fifteen years or so.
Then we compared a map of the Cincinnati Zoo with one of the Phoenix Zoo. We concluded that we had to stop that, because we were going to the bad zoo and we shouldn't torture ourselves.
We arrived around twelve thirty. Steady got his first dose of "what it's like when mary ann is overstimulated around animals" before we got to the gate. There's a lake that's, like, completely filled with turtles. It's so neat. There are islands with palm trees that haven't ever been groomed. They're all shaggy. (I looked at them and declared "I completely understand how someone could see that and think 'House. That is a great building material for a house.'") And all these turtles. So many turtles, just hanging out in the lake...
("Are you going to be like this every time we see an animal?" "Yes, probably." "This is going to be a long afternoon...")
We got into the zoo and immediately stopped for food. After a nice lunch, during which I incessantly marvelled at the pigeons, we were off...
Fortunately, almost the first place we ended up was the petting zoo!!! There were goats! And pigs! And sheep! And a donkey! Steady waited outside (the children were more of a factor than the goats). I petted all the animals and made friends with a nice goat named Daisy. I told her about Goatsy (my stepfather's goat that was aquired as a pet for my sister and me when we were children), and then she followed me around.
The donkey also liked me a lot. It nuzzled me several times. It could tell that I am a Democrat. Another possible theory was that he wanted to eat my hair (that sounds silly, but my ponytail has ended up in several horses' mouths).
After the petting zoo, we saw the whole zoo. It was very exciting. Many of the animals were very busy sleeping, what with it being the middle of the day in Phoenix in June and all. I think my favorite animals were the 125 year old giant tortises. Although I also felt a strong attachment to the rhinos, because the sign told us that they had once been at King's Island, so I'd met them from my seat on the monorail sometime before puberty. Steady doesn't know what his favorite animal was.
I was particuarly enthralled with the local wildlife... I got to watch a raven give itself a bath, and that was really fascinating. I also saw a bunny run across the path. It was tiny and brown and very cute. AND there were guinea hens all over the place. They weren't as pretty as Cincinnati's peacocks...
We also got to see the local ravens get into a pretty enthralling fight with the caged ones through the bars of the roof while the bald eagle sat peacefully on his limb looking for all the world like "That is completely undignified and I don't know why they can't behave themselves appropriately when we have guests."
Steady has good eyes. He managed to spot all the animals long before I did. He credits Highlights magazine with that skill...
Even after the Arizona section of the zoo, I still haven't seen a javelina. It's beginning to become a long term goal for me.
On the way out, he asked me how the two zoos compared. I let him know that there is some air conditioning at the Cincinnati Zoo, and I would have welcomed a nice indoor exhibit. Phoenix doesn't have a Noctunal House, a Reptile House, a Bird House, a Cat House, or an Insect House. That's a lot of animals to be missing out on. I mean, we saw one or two of each of those things, but not a whole bunch of them all together.
Also, no walruses or seals. My best memories of the Cincinnati Zoo are of the walrus that took some sort of personal offense at my sister's presense and could be counted on to drench her with all the water he could spit as soon as she got near the observation deck.
No polar bears either. Or penguins. Nothing that swims, but a couple of otters, actually. The otters were very cute though.
Cincinnati has that new aviary and completely renovated bird house that's so pretty and wonderful. Before that they had the moderately depressing Bird House featuring small displays. Phoenix has lots of birds in display in various cages...
So, yeah, Cincinnati has the superior zoo. Steady and I did thoroughly enjoy the Phoenix Zoo and want to go back to it. I missed one tiny spot near my left eye with the sunscreen, but otherwise I managed several hours out there without sunburn, and we were out walking around for several hours. We live so close now, I'm considering a membership... I mean, how could you not love the zoo?