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We're Goin' to the Zoo!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

We went to the Columbus zoo on a winter Saturday in celebration of Liam's tenth birthday.

Phoebe and Liam, with dear friends Kelly and Anna, fell into line behind a little girl who was carefully stepping along a raised curb, as little girls will.

She was so intent on her balance that she didn't know she had an entourage.

When she discovered that she'd been leading the way for our party, she was delighted.

And just a wee bit smug.

As an Ohioan since 1992, I am proud to say that our Columbus Zoo kicks zoological park derriere. It is a wonderful place, staffed by people who really understand and dig the animals. It's beautiful and spacious and anything but antiquated. You might think I'd be the kind of person who declares, "I hate zoos." You hear people say that, but not me. I suspect that folks who feel that way haven't set foot in a zoo since they were small. Those people need to visit the Columbus Zoo. So much has changed for the better, for the animals and for the people who look at and care for them. And the Columbus Zoo does a stellar job of highlighting the vital role of zoos in endangered species stewardship.

Where else can you see Fluffy, probably the fattest python in the world?

Fluffy's coils look like Spin-Art.

Where else can you get eye-to-eye with some fabulous flying foxes, which look something like winged Pomeranians?

Stretching a wing, showing a band on his odd hooked forefinger. What a miracle bats are. A collection of bones and skin, formed into something wondrous, something DaVinci might have invented if it did not already exist. The blood vessels, supplying all that membrane with life. The membrane, stretched between fingers of a huge bony hand. All of it, bearing the animal aloft in the only true mammalian flight.

From wing to blanket. They fuss and vibrate and scratch and preen, rarely still, looking like a bunch of itchy umbrellas hung from the ceiling.

Lighting wasn't fabulous in the monkey house, but I caught a baby golden langur in flight.

He pushed pretty much all of our buttons at once.

Barely the size of a squirrel, he clung with authority to the narrow limbs, a 20' fall awaiting if he slipped. He didn't slip. Still, it was hard for Liam's mama to watch him cavort so high above cruel cement.

Give me a tail, willya, huh?

Adorable, that's all.

So. How's the twice a week thing treating you? I like it. But I spend four times as much time on each post. Oops. Still wobbling a bit in the new orbit, I guess. There are paintings coming out of it, however, which is the whole point.

By Monday, January 11, the kids will have had one day of school in the last 19. We will have enjoyed a peaceful Christmas, a wildly fun New Year's onset, and lengthy visits from acute viral pharyngitis and pinkeye, the guests who wouldn't leave. Hackahackahacka. We will have taken the sleds down the Bowl many times, and the Wii, which is worth its weight in gold, will have had an obscene amount of use. So far, we still have heat and power and I have not had to cook everything in the freezer at once, and for that I am abjectly grateful. As country denizens, we tend to associate this extreme cold and prolonged snow cover with the loss of electricity, heat, or both.

But the snow is light and fluffy and the winds are calm; no branches breaking, no powerlines snapping; and other than Liam's losing his glasses on a sled run, and our finding out that metal detectors can't find titanium frames, no matter how dear, it's been a pretty good run. We hope the same for you.


What a delightful visit to the zoo and what an awesome way to celebrate a birthday. It was almost as good as being there in person. Except I didn't get to eat cake!

Heaven. Zoo photos at last. Funny how zootrends run: our flying foxes live right next door to a python, too.
Glad to hear you are on the mend. Send Offisa Pup out to fetch them glasses once the snows melt down a tad.
Twice a week is better than no blog, and I like the more immediate posts (grasshoppers) better than the ant-y canned ones. But I'm in no position to say a word, I don't keep a blog at all.

Posted by Anonymous January 7, 2010 at 2:38 PM

ahhhh... "true mammalian flight"... if there is reincarnation I think I may want to come back as a flying fox (...I mean just the name is so cooool and daring!)

Oh, glasses must be like cell phones for boys. Always lost and expensive to replace. Do they make insurance for eyeglasses? A certain young man who lives in my house used up all his free phone replacements in the span of a month. They don't swim well. I guess glasses don't ski well either. Hope the eyes and throats get better soon.

"Goin' to the zoo..." [/Bill Cosby voice]

Twice a week is good; every day, though, was awesome. You spoiled us.

Must add: a Chet Baker book would be the greatest thing ever. Sheesh, I'd buy several if "all" you did was a grand compilation of every blog mention and photo.

You painted a beautiful picture with fluffy pythons and itchy umbrellas along with adorable babies. Twice per week is marvelous. Just don't give up. I always wondered how you did it all.

Twice a week is just fine.
Especially when time away allows a life you will share with us--in sweet baby faces, both human and animal.

Isn't Jack Hanna the director of the Columbus Zoo? I love that guy and I'd like to visit the zoo some day. From what I see on his shows, they do great conservation work there.

We are most thankful to have your posts twice a week for reading pleasure. "Thank You" ♥
I'd always wondered how in the world Julie made time for all she's "does". You are human, correct?
Expecting a daily post was expecting far too much from anyone, even Julie Zickefoose. !
Chill, take time for yourself & to relax.
Most of us "4 eyes" have a lost a pair in the past, most often when we were growing up.
Looking forward to the book after you've had enough time to complete the artwork.

winged Pomeranians and itchy umbrellas...the word pictures are even better than the regular pictures, which by the way, are way cool!
is there much on the Planet that is more appealing to a human than a baby monkey?

This post was worth the wait. The smug little girl first in line made me giggle and I'm so happy you enjoyed her enough to take photos! The zoo. I've loved the zoo since I was a child but unfortunately haven't been to one in about fifteen years! Thanks for the reminder...

Get your painting done and hug sweet Liam. Poor guy. I hope you all shake those hackahackahackas.

We've got a cool zoo too. I spent a long time looking at bats. Know what else they do? They hang in more ways than one. Dave was scandalized. He pulled me out of the building.

We will survive on your twice a week post. Glad the painting are getting done. The trip to the zoo looks like fun. (If only I could get my husband to go.) Love the zoo pictures.
Lynda in Michigan.

Posted by Anonymous January 8, 2010 at 6:37 AM

AH, that beautiful bat--amazing--with worthy prose to describe him--lovely. Thanks.XXM.

Posted by Anonymous January 8, 2010 at 7:13 AM

Murr and Mimi know--bats are the ultimate sexy beasts!

Yes, but flying foxes pee on their wings to cool themselves off! Blecch!

Am filled with gratitude for the twice a week posts. Thanks Julie!

Shrieking with delight over the kid and critter pix; love the smug human and simian babies! Twice a week works for me; now if I could just get up to one post a week...or month...or year....

Wonderful post in every way! My husband grew up on Columbus and last summer took me back for a trip to the Columbus Zoo. I thought it would be quite superior, based on watching Jack Hanna and amazing animals on Larry King Live from time to time (I think Jack Hanna is the Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo) -

We had a wonderful informative time!

Truly appreciate the posts - so happy that you have a schedule that works for you, Julie. It works for me, a grateful blog reader,


For a history of the Columbus zoo, read Monkeys on the Interstate. I forget who the author is, but is an old book. It is a great book and tells the story of the rebuilding of the zoo.

Posted by Anonymous January 8, 2010 at 1:34 PM

By the way -- is the Flying Fox not the cutest winged mammal ever?!?

Ah, Molly, I hadda go back and find the red bat post just to make sure there was one winged mammal cuter than a flying fox. I mean honestly. Go look at the little face on the red bat from November 2008. I am Ohio Proud to say that THAT is the cutest flying mammal on earth.

Yep, twice a week is just fine.... as long as your still here in some fashion!!

Cincinnati zoo kicks some awesome butt too... I haven't been there is a gooooooood long time though. Saw the manatees last time I was at the Columbus Zoo. Are they still there? (I'm thinking that was a special exhibit?)

Had to go to Ohio to finally see my first pileated woodpecker. I've wanted to see one for over 25 years now.... (A male, spotted in Lancaster, Oh.) I am still over the moon about it.

Happy new year. Enjoy painting and blogging twice a week.

Julie, you have some amazing animal photos. I am particularly intrigued by the Flying Fox. Enjoyed your descriptions also, i.e. comparing them to umbrellas!
Happy New Year to you and wish you a fruitful productive 2010!

May I add my vote that twice a week is fine. Especially if it means you get more painting done (and perhaps share it with us?).

Love "Fluffy", and the flying foxes are awesome. I'm with Murr about their fascinating, um, skills. And I have to agree that red bats are way up there on the cuteness scale. My in-laws had one get blown into their shrubbery during a storm many years ago. We took a ton of pictures and ooohed and aaahhed until it got its wits about it and headed off to complete its batty business.

Julie, We will take your posts as often as you can write them. Twice a week is amazing! I love the zoo photos. I am now motivated to take the family there in the coming weeks. Winter at the zoo is great. There are not as many visitors, but the staff is still around and lots of the animals are more active than in the hot summer months. Thank you for sharing.

I love zoos, even though I don't visit as often as I would like. I'd love to visit this zoo sometime. Nice photos.

Loved the commentary on bats, was
Ike poetry! Linda

Posted by Anonymous January 24, 2012 at 11:00 AM
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