On Friday, the conference was over at noon, so we had the afternoon to go explore more of Houston. We decided to go to the zoo. The zoo is surprisingly close to downtown (or maybe it was uptown) Houston. It is very well kept. The landscaping and grooming of the grounds is obviously a high priority for the zoo. Some parts of the zoo were just breathtaking...
Like these clumps of Bamboo that grew well over 25 feet tall.
And this reflecting pool in the middle of the zoo was a nice serene spot to sit in the shade on a hot day.
And these towering oaks with massive branches that would be perfect for climbing or building a tree house.
We saw many animals that were common to any zoo, like this guy. Seeing him made me think of the last time I was at the zoo with the Zeigler family. We had so much fun that day. Click here for the video of that fun filled day. Nathan...is this an ape or a monkey? :)
As the day progressed, we began seeing some very funny sights at this zoo. And, of course, it all started with fornication. It makes for a pretty funny trip to any zoo when you happen to stumble upon some of the zoo inhabitants 'gettin it on'. We just happened to be there during what must be mating season for fruit bats. Every bat in the entire bat house was paired off and clinging to each other in there upside down dance. They were even rocking back and forth...they looked like they were literally humping. That, as you can imagine, set us all into a frenzy of giggles that didnt seem to let up for the rest of the zoo visit and set the pattern for the rest of the day.Just as we were noticing how well cared for all of the animals seemed to be, we came across this bird floating morbidly face down in the pond in the hogs tank. I dont think this little guy was an actual zoo resident. More likely, he just happened to fly into the glass too fast and knocked himself out. Poor guy...but because we had already started with our fit of giggles, it was kinda funny too.
The elephants gave us many minutes of laughter while we watched this momma elephant pull repeatedly on her tit, trying to get the baby to suckle. The baby groped a few times for the tit, but missed each time and gave up. Then another female walked over and we were astonished when we noticed that her teets were actually engorged with milk. She actually looked like she had breasts! I was shocked (which may be why I dont have a picture of that particular elephant). I didnt know elephant could actually have full fledged breasts. The things you learn when you go to the zoo!
BTW...this is the same herd of elephants which recently lost a baby to the herpes virus. This incident was all over the news. There was a little memorial for the elephant outside of the enclosure. It looked like several people had brought flowers to morn the baby elephants passing. Apparently the herpes virus has become an epidemic among asian elephants bred in captivity.
As I was standing between the elephant and giraffe enclosures looking at the giraffe, I heard a massive fart from behind me. The other teacher I was with was standing there looking shocked and asked if I had heard it. It was the big male elephant.
The giraffe was amazing. The enclosure was a wide open space with just a small, shallow moat and a short fence separating him and his spectators. I've never been this close to a giraffe before. He was beautiful with spots that look to me more like the shape of leaves than spots. His head was covered in big bulges and his snout was strangely shaped like a cross between a horse and duck. And I couldnt help but notice (now that the X-rated theme has been established) how huge his testicles were. When he turned and walked away, they were right at about the same height as me and I lost it to another fit of giggles. Immature, I know, but so much fun!These fish had four eyes, a pair below the water and a pair above the water. 4 eyed fish...who knew?
Then we say this statue which was titled 'Bear Cubs at Play', but I couldnt help but notice that it looked like they were involved in some other activity...
Then, we approach the Jaguar enclosure and this little sign is the first thing you see. As you read this sign, you begin to create an image and gear yourself up mentally for what you are going to see...
And then you walk up to the Jaguar and what you've geared yourself up for...A HEALED INJURY...is actually...
AN AMPUTATION. I was so taken aback by this that I lost it again, but this time the giggles were left behind to be traded for full blown laughter. Of course, I was not laughing at, nor did I find it funny, that this animal has lost its paw, but (to me) this is not what a person thinks of when they think of a healed injury. I mean...HE'S MISSING HIS ENTIRE PAW! Of course he's limping! He also looked thoroughly dejected and pretty much moped around the tank. He certainly didnt look like he could jump 20ft. He eyed the rock that was about 10 feet up and then laid down on the ground looking fairly disgusted by the situation. Once my laughter subsided, I really felt bad for the big kitty.
And then just a few minutes later, we found ourselves staring at another animal missing its claw and started to wonder what the heck was going on around this zoo.
And then there were really cool animals, like the one below...
Can you find it?
Next time, my final Houston installment...Part 3:NASA. I have to get it all blogged before I head out for my next adventure. We leave Wednesday for Fairbanks and I cant wait to see another part of Alaska!