The Zookeeper

The Zookeeper

I returned from San Diego last Thursday. Had a good time with my buddy Nathalie, despite the fires. Yes, it was pretty surreal being a tourist amidst the natural disasters. Oddly, downtown operated almost as normal, save for a few shops that had shut down. The smoke, as you can see from the pictures, was uncomfortably close and after two days walking outdoors, I definitely felt the effects.

Surprisingly, the zoo was still open on Wednesday, so Nathalie and I braved the poor air quality. We had a nice visit and in fact, we wandered about the zoo all day. Honestly, I have mild ADD, and I probably could have left after a few hours, but since Nat is a vet, she had to see EVERY exhibit. We were there from 10am to 4pm!

But the zoo was very impressive. Now that I work for the Open Space peeps, I pay particular attention to signs, navigation, and overall information communication. It’s really kind of fascinating. The zoo was extremely navigable: there were easy paths for weaker folks and handicap access and then there were more challenging paths for others. And it was cool reading some of the displays… seeing what bits of information the zoo considered critical and then getting a sense for how they wanted to promote education, awareness, and action.

My favorite exhibit? The hippos. I know, hippos aren’t exactly known for their sunny disposition, but they are so cute! Their swimming pond jutted right up against the viewing glass, so luckily, we saw two of them up close. They really are massive beasts. 1500 lbs or something insane like that.

We also saw a 2-day old baby giant anteater– an odd looking critter but interesting all the same. Man, the zoo people. Crack me up. They totally reminded me of my coworkers. So into it. For example, when we got ready to board the zoo bus, the driver urged everyone to stop by and see the baby anteater first before getting on the bus and heading out of that area. Nat and I had already seen it, but no one heeded her advice. What did she do? As soon as everyone got on the bus, she got on the loudspeaker: “Normally the bus isn’t supposed to deviate off its route or schedule, but the baby anteater really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I’m going to drive you by the exhibit.” Yeah. Hard core. But I was happy to see her enthusiasm. All zoo employees should get psyched about that stuff.

I guess I was a bit of a zoo wannabe that day. I wore my big floppy hat. I didn’t see what the big deal was, but Nat and her friend clearly didn’t approve. They asked, “What’s the deal with the hat?” As if I were trying to be funny or something. Ah well. Didn’t bug me. I freckle like crazy, and if I were in Shanghai, I’d be carrying an umbrella. So sue me! 😉

But I got a good chuckle with it later that day: a couple came up to me asking for directions to the panda exhibit. Uh sorry, I don’t work here. I guess John’s right: it really is a ranger hat. Now he calls me the Zookeeper.

Now to really fit in with my new coworkers, I gotta get myself a scat book. Yup, our natural resources manager really does own one. No games, I tell you.

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