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» Saturday, April 19, 2014We Belong in the Zoo
So we had a fun late morning and early afternoon with some guests! Jen Waters' sister Meggan, her husband Jason, and their little girl Jonna (turned a year old two days ago) were doing a quickie trip to Atlanta over the weekend to attend a wedding on Saturday night. They got in late last night and I got a message to call them when we were up.
To cut to the chase, we drove down to their hotel (they are planning to take MARTA to the wedding, so didn't rent a car) to pick them up; they shared the backseat with Jonna and her car seat. Then it was off to the zoo, right past Turner Field. It was drizzling and grey, but it hadn't kept out the families. Price sure has gone up since the last time we were here, though, which I think was when Jessie and Aubrey were babies (they're both turning 21 in the fall; you do the math)! Plus they added sales tax! Luckily we had a coupon from the Entertainment Book.
To answer what I'd wondered before we got there, yes, the flamingos are still at the front gate. Behind them, we didn't even need a sign: it was the budgie free-flight cage—you could hear the noise all the way across the flamingo pond! But at the point we arrived it was still too chilly for them to be let out, so Meggan suggested we go the other way, which worked out well.
I think what I remember most is the birds; we saw all sorts of birds, from huge eagle owls to vultures (they had an artificial zebra carcass to eat out of), a lovely golden pheasant and a sleeping whistling duck, a dour kookabura, a big flock of different birds in a flight cage. We saw ring-tailed lemurs and greater lemurs, including a greater lemur who posed very nicely for us. We did see the bongo [a large, striped antelope], but the legend said they were very shy, and sure enough, he wandered off out of sight. The giraffes, elephants, and otters were not on display, but we saw a beautiful Sumatran tiger; a trio of lions including a young one; gazelles, ostriches, and zebra; a rhinoceros and her baby; the reptile house (I skipped most of the snakes, but I had to laugh when I saw a rattlesnake about two inches away from the heat lamp; he must have thought it was chilly even in the overwarm reptile house); and a lone red panda asleep in a tree (the new giant panda cubs are nine months old now, but all of the giant pandas were sacked out by the time we got there). We arrived at the orangutang enclosure just as the zoo attendant was trying to get him to do some of his exercises on the computer. The orangutang evidently figured it was Saturday and he wasn't going to do any "schoolwork." He'd click the green button and put the exercise back up on the screen, and then go sit in his hammock!
Early in the circuit we also stopped at the children's zoo. Jonna is fascinated by goats and she spent a happy fifteen minutes in the goat pen patting them. We also ate at one of the cafes, but I wasn't impressed. The hot dog was okay, but my milk had a skin on it (like you might find on latex paint—ugh!) and the fries must have had my maximum amount of sodium for the day on them. James' cheeseburger was cold.
So by the time we reached the budgie enclosure (and you can hear the budgies all the way back into the African section!), they were all outside. It was lovely! I want to live there! They give you a little stick with some seed and fruit on it, and, if you're patient enough, and hold the stick up, sometimes the birds will come to you, but it's easier if you find one perched in reach and offer the stick to them. They're not exactly tame, but not exactly wild, either, because they will eagerly feed on the seed—until a warning scold or a shadow sets them off, or if they're eating grass. They were especially flighty because it was quite obviously mating season, and on branches, in corners (the "exit" sign seemed to be an especially coveted perch), upon the netting, there were pairs billing and cooing at each other. Except for one little bird who was trying to sleep in all the racket! They're not all green and yellow like wild budgies in the outback, either, but a rainbow of budgie colors: blue, white, green, chartruse, yellow, purple. One was mixed pastels just like my little Pip, who only lived five months, and there were birds who looked like Merlin, or Bandit, or Schuyler, and even Pigwidgeon.
At last it was time to get the Padvoracs back to their hotel to get dressed for the wedding. Having found lunch unsatisfactory, we had an early supper at Panera and returned home for James to relax his aching knees.