Posts Tagged ‘wild animal park’

Queue Quota

15 May 2011

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Dear J-

If you go to many of these tourist attractions you’ll soon grow to dread the lines and the testing of wills and patience. After a few times through the lines you find out what kind of person the kids are made of: are they stoic sufferers, voluble complainers, comic geniuses, or some kind of sociopath? The longer the line the better an opportunity. No one likes having to wait but is there anything you can change about it? Think about the difference between action and reaction. We can coach and cajole but there’s only so much learned personality you’ve developed at four and if it’s not happening right now, figgy’s not going to listen to your rational explanations in lieu of wish fulfillment.

She passed by the carousel initially and said she wasn’t interested but as the day wore on we kept circling back in decaying orbits until she declared that she just wanted to watch. Watching turns into wanting and two minutes (and two bucks) later she’s on a zebra ready to ride in circles. Glad times indeed; after a day that starts off extra-early thanks to Calcifer’s inconsolable fuss, she finally brightens the day with a smile and the sun comes out after a brief drizzle. Longer days lie ahead and more dramatic lines — we plan on hitting up the big theme parks in SoCal later this year — so the lessons won’t go unlearned.

We had a recurring zebra theme today in fact. The moment we walked in we watched a show put on by an animated zebra who explained that zebras were black with white stripes — you can tell because the nose is black. After she rode the zebra we got back in line for the tram to see more ill-tempered beasts (cape buffalo and zebra outside, figgy within) and eventually we came upon a baby zebra lying at its mother’s feet, either too tired or not able to stand, and it reminded me that no matter the sophistication of her speech or the depths of her tantrums she’s four and it’s too easy to start concentrating on the black and white of actions leading to consequences leading to reactions leading to escalations. Gotta nip that in the bud.

Mike

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Zoo Revue

3 September 2008

Dear J-

We spent four hours sweating it out — we’re a family of sweaters, it turns out — in the Wild Animal Park today.  If you stretch metaphors as badly as me, the San Diego Zoo is concentrated animal goodness; everywhere you turn, bam, another animal to peek at.  Every single place where you can put something in, there’s some occupant peering back at you.  Plus, as it’s close to us, we’re there often enough that it’s become pretty familiar; we’re at the point where we know most of the Children’s Zoo animal names, having surprised multiple keepers cooing out in the course of their rounds.  The Wild Animal Park, run by the same folks, is more like beef jerky — it takes a long time to get through, and by the time you’re done you feel a bit obligated to keep chewing.

The downside to being an urban zoo is the sheer number of folks who show up — this last Monday, Labor Day, the crowds around the tiger cubs at the main Zoo were thick and showed no signs of dissipating.  I disagree with the folks who spend tons of money on photographic gear and then test their skills out in the zoo, which to me seems a bit like buying a multi-kilobuck gun to shoot fish in a barrel:  pretty much anything with sufficient isolation will do.  You don’t need a San, Ni-Ppa mounted on a tripod and better yet, don’t occupy the viewing space as though your money buys you more time in front of the subject.

In truth, there were several factors going for us today at the Wild Animal Park — it was a weekday, after Labor Day, and we got there bare minutes after they opened the gates.  It wasn’t crowded, and (as long as we were walking downhill in the shade) it felt like a private park, just the three of us.  Clearly, though, there’s room to grow out there; even though there was tons of open land, the gorilla enclosure was rather penurious, and the signs around them stated that direct eye contact with them was considered rude.  I appreciate the different experience, and enjoyed my time out there today, but it’s an occasional-visit sort of place, I fear.  It’s not just the distance, it’s also the heat; with only a handful of months where the weather doesn’t conspire to kill you, and the exhibits spread so far apart (you can’t get there early enough for crepuscular activity), unless you opt for a pricey up-close package or the sleep-over camp, it’s difficult to soak it all in.

Mike