On Sunday, I met a friend and her sweet lil’ rambunctious 2-year-old at Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia. Hoping to get plenty of entertaining monkey shots for the blog, I took my trusted Nikon with its FABulous zoom lens — only to realize, AFTER I’d arrived of course, that I’d forgotten to insert the memory card. Geesh. But I had my iPhone!

At left is my favorite animal-shot of the day. The blur was not intentional, but I’m glad it happened. It sends my imagination to a happy place. In my head, I’m lying down, looking up, a slight fuzzy-around-the-edges inebriation kickin’ my consciousness…ocean waves and soft, lyrical reggae melodies are bouncing in the background….a warm, not-too-hot breeze moves over my skin. Perhaps I’m just waking up, wondering why pretty parrots are squawking at me…..

That could easily be a dream scene from an episode of “Lost,” don’t you think? Until the birds start using my eyeballs for target poop-practice, at which time it morphs into a Saturday Night Live skit. Ha!

I was expecting the zoo to depress me a little because I hate to see animals in cages. I hadn’t been to a zoo in years and years, back before natural habitats became the thing. I’d been to rodeos and B&B-type circuses more recently, and couldn’t take my eyes from the sidelines where the animals were penned in tiny areas and, from my point of view in the stands, treated unkindly. A rodeo that came to Greenville about 10 years ago was my last. Ugh! I came away from it very sad.

But, for the most part, Riverbanks was happy. The animals are obviously well cared for, and their areas are well maintained. Some habitats appear too small, but rarely do you see something that looks like a “cage.” A lot of the animals really seemed to enjoy interacting with their visitors!

The only experience that bothered me significantly was the gorilla exhibit. You go in a building, and there’s a large viewing area to the outside where the animals are. As I approached the glass, I noticed a large, soulful gorilla sitting on the ground, leaning against a corner where a glass panel met a wall. He was just sitting, listless, gazing at whatever happened to be around him, nothing seeming to really register with him. He’d look over to his right where children and adults were smashed against the other side of the glass beside him….then he’d look to his left toward the bland landscape. Both scenes seemed to hold the same amount of interest for him — or, rather, non-interest. I couldn’t get close enough to take a picture of his eyes, beautifully brown and full of raw intelligence. But I don’t know if I would’ve taken a picture, anyway. It would’ve seemed like an imposition, I think.

Sigh…

After a few minutes, he seemed to show a bit of bored, mild disgust with the crowd, and slowly rose and ambled away.

Double sigh…

And, gosh darn it, I missed a ‘neverdone’! I could’ve fed a giraffe. Oh well.

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