There’s just something about a trip to the zoo that makes me want to spend a year in the rainforest or desert studying animals on the verge of extinction. But, then I consider I might miss my memory foam mattress and Keurig coffee maker and decide I should leave animal studies to the experts.

I will say after a zoo visit I realize how environmentally unaware I am. So many things are endangered and teetering on vanishing and the protected list grows longer every year. And walking among the animals makes me feel so small, like a tiny speck in a huge world.

I’ve never been on an African safari, but I’m quite sure zoo animals are different from those in the wild. The monkeys appear to enjoy performing, the lions don’t have to hunt for their food so they seem lazy, and the bison and rhinos look bored. When I was a kid there was a polar bear in the Little Rock zoo who even waved to the visitors. I wonder if, like in the animated movies, they long to return to the wide open spaces or if they enjoy the life of leisure.

Nothing is better than wandering through all the exhibits with a grape snow cone. I stood in awe and respect yesterday staring at the alligators when a mother stopped beside me and lifted her three year old daughter to sit on top of the railing. My knees went weak and I held my breath when one gator slithered over right below us and hissed.

What are people thinking? Maybe they just don’t. It was as if the mother came to her senses when she said, “Mommy better take you down from here. That alligator would make a chicken nugget out of you.”

A zoo trip makes for interesting observation of the creatures on both sides of the fences. After watching wild animal mommas take care of their young I wonder who is smarter, us or them.

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