This Sunday, Baby Harbat (daughter), wife, our friends’ 2-year-old daughter and I all went to the zoo. First half: dozey-eyed staring at every exhibit of birds, monkeys, and sleeping pandas. Middle: lunchtime of either frightening continuous consumption (my daughter), or flighty dismissal of all snacks and entrees (friends’ daughter).
Then came post-meal comas by the lucky young girls who got to snore away in their strollers while my wife and I pushed their deadweight up the zoo’s steepest pathways in search of turaco feathers and bonobos. Incidentally, you can keep any exotic colorful feathers you find at the zoo. This was confirmed by the zookeeper at the Scripps Aviary.
Baby Harbat awoke as we arrived at the Bactrian camel enclosure. Complete and utter rapture. She strained at the shoulder straps on her stroller, while huffing and pointing at the two-humped exotic beast about twenty feet away. When I held her and came to the edge of the enclosure, the Bactrian strolled over, looking like a Dr. Seuss creation, all floppy tufts of hair, paddle feet, and swoopy curves.
More huffing and now BH was bucking her legs as if she could leap from my arms, across the fence, and into a full-body embrace of the heavy-lidded camel. I think this is the most excited I’ve ever been about a Bactrian too.
Then we came to the elephants. Huge bags of skin and curling trunks, enormous even from a distance, they have her in rapt attention. As I’m pointing out the trunks, tusks, and steel playtoys the size of small houses, a flock of crows settles into a nearby tree. Now BH swivels in my arms and is pointing and huffing at the birds.
Now I understand. For Baby Harbat, there is no normal, no banal. This makes every zoo visit much, much more fun. Maybe on our next visit we’ll see guanacos. And pigeons in the parking lot!