Friday, May 25, 2007


We're in Colorado for the annual Boss Family Reunion, and it's a zoo. Really: Ten adults, seven kids, and two more on the way. It takes us four (full) cars to go anywhere. So today we took all seventeen people in all four cars down to Colorado Springs, had lunch at a picnic area in the Garden of the Gods, and spent the afternoon at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

Wow. Wow.

This isn't a huge zoo, and it's probably under-funded. But it's a great, great zoo. The animals look healthy and well cared-for, and they're so close to visitors! Bethie got to feed a giraffe, which alone would have made my afternoon. ($1 for three giraffe crackers, walkways right at the giraffes' eye level, so they're up close and personal for kiddies. And adults.) I remember briefly petting a giraffe once at Hogle Zoo when I was a kid. The long tongue! The long eyelashes! Today we stood and talked with one, and felt its horns (they're called ossicones — I looked it up), and petted its nose. Such a treat. We took Sarah out of the stroller to have her meet one of the giraffes too. She's about as big as its head.

There were great signs up to tell about the animals (I've been looking at the spectacled bear at the Pittsburgh Zoo for a couple of years now, but just found out today he's native to South America), and zookeepers who stood and talked with all of us about the four 19-month-old mountain lion cubs, and gorgeous peacocks strutting around. I wasn't about to do the petting zoo with Beth (she's terrified of the big old mangy goats in Pittsburgh), but her cousins were doing it, sooooo...we washed her hands and I went in with her. Two clean, dainty pygmy goats — not much bigger than Beth — were in there with a keeper, and when I held my hand out they licked it and nibbled curiously. I held Beth's hand in mine and they licked her hand, then tried to nibble her sleeve and raincoat. Instead of freaking out (this is the third day this week she hasn't taken an afternoon nap) she took it all in stride. "Again, Mommy! Do it again!"

My favorite moment, though, was walking through the wallaby enclosure and getting to pet a motherless baby wallaby that a zookeeper was carrying in a denim pouch. (I have neither the vocabulary nor the italics to describe this.) So little, so soft, and when it curled up its big legs and feet wrapped all the way around to its little head. I thought: This is like carrying Sarah in a sling, or in her Snugli, and right now she is just as little and soft and vulnerable as this baby is.

(I'll get pictures up, I promise. I'm blogging in the dark while the girls are asleep back at our hotel. But in the meantime, you can check out the zoo's giraffe cam.)

Later this evening, headed north on I-25, in the past-bedtime dark, we heard Beth murmuring something to herself. I turned around. "What's that, Bethie?"

"Goat eat my shirt. Goat eat my shirt."

"Yes, Bethie, the goat tried to eat your shirt."

From the back seat, a moment later, a giggle. "That's funny!"

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