It seems that Denver is known for the outdoors, and on a bright and hot Sunday afternoon I decide to experience life outside with a visit to the Denver Zoo. The tall metal giraffes greet me and my friends Caitlin, Anne Marie, and Elizabeth as we make our way past booths of umbrellas of animal heads and stuffed hanging monkeys. Upon entering, we glance at the map and based on our fears rule out a visit to exhibits of snakes and birds. Despite our cancellations, there is still plenty for us to see. We anxiously anticipate anything from wolves to tigers to Dippin’ Dots.
One observation I’m pleased to note is that most of the animals we encounter are awake and roaming throughout their habitats. The most entertaining zoo resident is a trio of tigers walking about an enclosure of trees and rocks. One tiger with a face half-hidden by a branch gently peers across to observers while another heads to a small pond and rests in the water to escape the heat. The third tiger, however, steals the show as he rolls on the ground like a dog who rolls in the grass after his owner has laboriously bathed and cleaned him. The tiger demonstrates his inner feline by clawing and scratching at an old stump he’s turned into a scratching post. I have to wonder if such behavior is what convinces some people to adopt and attempt to domesticate wild animals that should clearly be left alone to their own devices in the wild.
Just as impressive are the lions whom visitors anxiously stare at and press their hands against the clear plastic windows to see. Caitlin excitedly runs over to see the Otter display and enjoy her new found love of the mammal who swims deep into the water. Anne Marie is disappointed by the lack of wolves, but is happy to see an Orangutan and a small monkey, the Pygmy Marmoset, chew its afternoon snack as it quickly darts across its branches. A less welcomed visitor seems to be the geese that run around various zoo paths. One visitor seems determined to chase the Geese from his lunch, all the while not bothered by the fact that Geese have been known to fight back at times.
Our main purpose, however, is a walk through the Toyota Elephant Passageway that may be short but provides plenty of entertainment. Anne Marie can’t help but anxiously watch a rhinoceros nudge a ball and we all eagerly peer through leaves to watch an elephant throw hay on his back to cool off from the heat. Everyone is excited to watch a pair of monkeys grooming in the trees while an elephant named Groucho glances at us in the distance. While animals may merely seem cute to most people, what’s more interesting to note is how important and respected they are. A display in the passageway illustrates how elephants are significant spiritual and religious figures whom various Asian countries focus on preserving. I can’t see who wouldn’t want to protect animals who are intelligent enough to have their own common saying: “A memory like an elephant.” Various advice has been give to improve cognitive memory, yet these creatures seem to have a way of understanding that shows through their large statures and flapping ears. We often treat humans as animals with possessing the smartest capabilities because of our ability to reason and contemplate. Unfortunately current actions and events begin to make me think otherwise. While these animals are thinking about survival and sustainability, my friends and I meander through simpler questions such as: “Do seals have skin or fur? If you rode a camel would you want one hump or two? Is Dippin’ Dots lactose-intolerant friendly?” Perhaps we ought to realize that we’re not the only ones with a great deal of knowledge and analyzing; there are others who have awareness and intelligence we seem to overlook.
This post is a part of ABC Wednesday.