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3:33 p.m. - July 30, 2006
The Zoomobile
It was a big day on Saturday here in BFE land. Well, at least for the kids in the summer reading program at the Library.

The theme of the summer reading program was a Reading Safari, and to celebrate the end of the reading safari, for all of the kids in it, they brought the Indianapolis Zoomobile to the library for a program.

Space was limited, but we did snag tickets for everybody. So, yesterday, the four of us went down in the heat of the day to the brand new library in town to see the animals.

Katie was excited for the past few days since she found out we were going. She was hoping they’d bring elephants or giraffes on the Zoomobile. We had to tell her that the Zoomobile really couldn’t hold a big animal like that, but I’d bet there would be a lot of fun animals on the Zoomobile.

She’s been a voracious reader this summer, and not just because of the prizes involved in the summer reading program. She really loves books, and is proud of herself when she can sound words out herself. She even ‘reads’ her favorite library book to us every night, but that’s because she’s memorized the story of “Chocolatina”.

This was, believe it or not, the first time I have been in the new library. Yeah, I know, but I’ve been a busy boy, and Liz has a chance during the day to take them down for stories, etc. I tell you what, it’s an impressive facility. I took some time to scout around, and I scared myself because I remember the general Dewey Decimal System classification for music books and sports books, and I haven’t had to look those up in over 20 years. Eeep!

All of the kids were gathered in the kids’ room, which is a room of pretty good size that includes a kitchen area that’s tiled. There were over 100 kids and parents there for the Zoomobile, and they ranged from Kristin’s age up to about 12 years old. And for a while, they were the typically loud group of preschoolers, pre-teens and adolescents.

Kristin was wandering around, since she’s now a total walker, and just burbling out words faster than anything. Of course, even one or two of her words make sense, and she repeats those over and over again!

Kristin also liked to wander over to Katie’s chair and try to give her a hug. Awwww….

But when the zookeepers arrived and started to bring in the animals in coolers (!!) and covered cages, the room got quiet pretty quickly. The zookeepers told the kids they needed to stay still and be quiet. Then they brought out the first animal, a baby alligator.

I’ve never seen Katie so still and intent.

The next animal was a very impressive desert hawk. This hawk was a female hawk, and was quite a majestic animal. A few times some of the kids got loud and the hawk looked like it was trying to fly away. Of course, the zookeeper had a glove on that tethered the hawk to it.

This was an impressive hunting machine. It had grace and beauty and even, dare I say, elegance. To live in the desert and try to capture enough food to eat must be tough, but somehow these hawks do so.

It was also funny that on Monday night, during my softball game, a hawk flew over our diamond and toward Sugar Creek, which isn’t that far away from them. So I just recently saw a hawk in full flight, and now seeing one really close was awe-inspiring.

Well, until the hawk relieved herself on the carpet.

The next animal was a big ol’ boa constrictor. Now, they said that a boa constrictor couldn’t possibly eat any of the kids in the room, and I believed the zookeeper, though Kristin was the smallest one. I made sure she didn’t get close to the snake!

Katie was still rapt with attention, and Kristin still a bit squirmy when they brought out the next animal, which was a serval.

A serval is a small African cat with long legs and big ears. It’s a lean, lithe creature that hunts by jumping in the air and snagging birds. The zookeeper was guiding it around, and had a clicker that he then would dispense a treat after the click when the serval performed the maneuver he was supposed to.

They are shy creatures, so the kids were told to be quiet and not move, because it would spook the serval. Katie did just that, and Kristin was pretty quiet and non-squirmy as well.

Katie and Kristin were both wowed by the serval. Kristin thought it was another big kitty, and Katie just loves cats.

The final animals were two Madagascaran Hissing Cockroaches. Oh, joy. They were cockroaches the size of a human hand, but they seemed to be fairly docile and useful animals. The zookeeper explained that they were the garbage collectors of the jungle. Hey, everyone has a role, don’t they!

That was the end of the program, and with Kristin past her nap time and getting quite cranky we headed home. On the way back, Katie explained how we couldn’t have a pet serval because they’re shy and could get scared around our cats. Well, good.

Even though we have a big enough house to keep a cat that can jump 10 feet in the air, I just don’t think we have enough birds around for one to keep fed.


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