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ALL THE MONKEYS AREN'T IN THE ZOO
30 April 2006
The title doesn't really teem with hidden meaning, except it's the first thing that came to mind when I began writing the text here. It's from an old Bing Crosby song ("Swinging on a Star").
The "monkey" analogy was because today we were left to our own devices (Ned, Marta and Phil went downtown; Jeri had rehearsal) so we went to the Franklin Park Zoo here in Boston.
I really enjoy going to zoos in other cities to see how they display the animals. Today was the first warm day in a long time, a Saturday, and the zoo was having its "spring fling," with lots of activities for kids, so I expected that it would be mobbed, but actually there were times when we had parts of the zoo almost entirely to ourselves. Parents were too busy playing with their kids.
It's a surprisingly small zoo, given the size of Boston, and there are not a lot of animals, but this is actually good because the animals that are here have lots of space. Also, some animals, like the giraffes, are not on display yet because the temps are still too cold (they don't release them into the enclosure unless it's >65�), though they could be spied over by the giraffe barn, where it was warmer.
The star attraction was unquestionably the new baby gorilla, Kimani, born November, 2004. This was the only place in the zoo where we had to compete for viewing space, but it was worth it.
You got a feel for kids who don't get exposed much to things like this. There were two high school aged boys there at the display. If I were to stereotype them, it would be as punks--but they might have been quite nice kids. Anyway, one of them watched the mom and baby gorilla for a few minutes and then asked his friend, "is that all they do? sit and eat all day?"
The friend said "well, there's not much else for them to do."
The first kid replied, "well, I thought they tore each other's heads off all the time or something..."
He was very disappointed to find these gentle giants instead of some raging monster, I think!
Near the gorilla enclosure is an "outback walk," which was more interesting for me now that i've been to Australia. Somehow it's not quite the same seeing kangaroos in an enclosure rather than sitting next to them in a cemetery or having them climb up your back trying to get treats out of your hand! There were two kookaburra, who were behind so much mesh that you could hardly see them. It was almost like they expected them to escape if they put them in a regular cage.
And watching the emu, I was reminded of the emu who ran in front of Peggy's car when we were driving to Kalbarri.
But it's definitely not the same in a faux outback environment.
We had made the tour of the zoo--no monkeys, no bears of any sort, no big cats except one lion, no elephants (which I was happy to see), no rhinos. Lots of animals not found in normal zoos, but on the whole I was happy to see that. I always have mixed feelings about zoos, realizing that there is value to them, but it always comes at the freedom of animals.
We stopped for a typical zoo-fare lunch and then watched a bit of the festivities of the "spring fling," which had more child interest than the animals.
We finally made our way back to the car and to Jeri's. she had returned from her rehearsal and we were waiting for the others to come back from downtown so we could decide what to do about dinner.
I'm ready to go home. This trip has been a nice balance between "family togetherness" and "touristy stuff." The kids are getting their alone time without Mom and Dad tagging along, and together time with us at night. But I'm ready to get back to what I hear is the heat of Davis, to pick Sheila and Kimba up on Monday morning, and to start looking at all the photos and see if I had as good a time here as I think I've had!
Boston is an interesting town. The influence of the Catholic Church is inescapable, as there seems to be a Catholic church every couple of blocks. Front page news (and headline news on TV) was that the Catholic Church, which runs the largest adoption agency in the city, is turning over all of its adoption files to some overburdened agency and shutting its doors because to stay in business they would have to consider gay people as potential adoptive parents, which the Church finds "immoral."
What I find immoral is that the church which hid pedophile priests for decades and which turned over ownership of most of its major financial holdings to the Vatican to escape paying off the children who were harmed by pedophile priests is now again putting the children in its care in jeopardy by overloading the system, which will result in slower adoptions, less oversight by case workers, etc. It's a good thing I don't live in Boston or I'd be having serious blood pressure problems much of the time.
Another hot button issue here is that parents are suing the school district because a teacher read her 3rd grade class a book about what makes up a family and one of the "families" was a two-Mommy family. So now there is a lawsuit. What makes this lawsuit more ridiculous is that it is being filed in a state where marriage between two people of the same gender is legal so kids will be seeing children from same sex families all the time, yet they aren't allowed to be told that this constitutes a "family." And how are the children from those families feeling now to be peripherally in the center of this battle.
When are people going to realize that people are just people and that it's not about sex--it's about love? I wonder if that will happen in my lifetime.
(I must be ready to go home, if I'm already crawling back up onto my soapbox again!
PHOTO OF THE DAY