So, I am sitting at my desk when a bird flies into the window. I felt sorry for him until it occurred to me that the little bastard was aiming for me.
In my ongoing series about our recent vacation in San Diego, I would be remiss if I did not cover our trip to the San Diego Zoo. Clearly, the reputation as one of the world’s best zoos is well deserved, this is place is phenomenal.
We have a really good zoo in Toledo, Lil Mayhem practically lives there in the summer because they offer camps for kids and I think she has attended them all. In fact, she is designing new zoo habitats at this very moment. The number one attraction for us at San Diego was the panda exhibit, but I approached the Panda Trek with some trepidation, Toledo hosted the pandas from the National Zoo a few years back, they were a really big deal.
The day I went the line was ridiculous, but I patiently waited to see these rare creatures. The line moved surprisingly fast, when I got to the front I realized why. The panda had been asleep in the far back corner of the exhibit for hours, so basically I saw an immobile spot of black and white fur. The experience was not unlike driving past a dead skunk. Needless to say, I was a bit underwhelmed.
The San Diego pandas were amazing. The exhibit allowed you to get really close, they had three different sections so the line moved along, there were a lot of bears and they were very active. But the cherry on top was the baby panda, he was adorable. Now this is what a panda experience should be.
They also have a huge koala exhibit called Koalafornia. It was right across from the giraffe exhibit which we exited quickly as one of the male giraffes was feeling particularly randy and I felt at any minute it could turn into a scene I would prefer my kid not see. So, thank God for the koalas!
The koalas are really cute, part of their charm is their sleepy, sloth-like attitude. This seems less adorable when you learn their lethargy is caused by malnutrition. Yep, as it turns out, the eucalyptus they are always eating has zero nutritional value. Makes you wonder why they don’t feed them supplements, maybe an active koala would present a danger to the public so unfathomable, they don’t dare. Reminds me of a line from Burn Notice, “I like my psychotic killers a little sleepy, thank you.”
Finally, our favorite story comes not from the animals, but the people on display that day. When we arrived at the park they were doing a demonstration featuring a real live Cheetah. They gave all kinds of interesting facts about the Cheetah and described how the Cheetah hunted and why the Cheetah is endangered. After the demonstration the women asked if there were any questions. This kid raises his hand and honestly asked the following “Is that a Cheetah?” This, of course, became our catch phrase for the day, because even my 10-year-old immediately recognized the comedy gold in that one.
This is not a question I ever thought needed to be asked, but I pose it now, who takes their dog to SeaWorld? While in San Diego, we did what most families would, we went to SeaWorld. As a member of the animal welfare community (I am on the Board of a low-cost spay neuter clinic), I suffer a bit of a moral dilemma when it comes to attractions like the circus and SeaWorld, but in the end, let’s face it, those whales are super cool.
But back to my original query, why would a person take their dog to SeaWorld? I saw it with my own eyes. This was not a service dog, it was a small, white fluffy creature, if I had to guess, I would go with Bichon Frisee. It had no orange vest or other visible credentials which would lead you to believe it was on the job. Frankly, it looked just as confused to be there as I was seeing it.
Of course, I irrationally obsessed on the dog all day, it was at the Shark exhibit, which could not have been pleasant. I was uncomfortable around all those sharks, but the dog was even lower on the food chain than me. I saw it at the Penguin Encounter, it was still not impressed, probably because it was dark, people were almost stepping on it, and it couldn’t see the penguins over the wall. All in all, I suspect this dog did not have the great time that I was most likely promised by its owners that morning.
We had a few other observations about SeaWorld. First, it is apparently a must see destination for Swedish people. I don’t know why, but there were a lot of Swedes there. Attractive, fit, healthy people, I couldn’t understand a word they were saying, but they seemed nice. I wonder if it is the fish theme that draws them.
Second, the sea-lion show was fantastic, it made me forget I was sitting in the unrelenting southern California sun for an hour. Third, the Blue Horizon show was strange, almost like watching a live version of a David Lynch film, it did not make me forget about the sun.
Lastly, the whales were amazing. There was a young whale that swam along with two adults in the show and while I won’t kid myself into thinking they were having a great time entertaining us, they were truly awe-inspiring to see. A few years ago, one of the trainers was killed by a whale, it was a big deal here because she was originally from Sylvania. It was tragic, I heard someone on the radio questioning the propriety of training these animals, he said one thing that stuck with me, “they are not called Tickle Whales.” Point taken.
This is GG, she is the latest addition to our domestic zoo. I know you are thinking, oh God, not a story about how much this lunatic loves her cat, but I think you will find her story inspirational, or at least be glad this happened to her and not you.
GG’s story is a classic rags to riches, fish out of water irony rich tale. GG was a “hood cat” living on the mean streets in a seedy part of town. My husband’s fire station was in this neighborhood and GG (then going under the handle, Princess) found her way to their door begging for food and attention.
She was small, skinny and pathetic but exceedingly friendly. My husband, being the big softy that he is, took pity on her and gave her food and water so she stayed. I serve on the board of a low-cost spay neuter clinic, so he decided to get her spayed, because we are responsible people and that’s what we do.
This is the point in the story where my daughter, Lil’ Mayhem gets involved. They go to the station, package up Princess and take her to the clinic. We thought she was a kitten, turns out she is 4 years old, has had several litters of kittens, survived broken ribs and is full of worms. In short, she’s the total package.
Because our intent was to take her back to the ‘hood, they took the tip of her ear off, this is how they mark wild cats as spayed. But, since they took her in on a Friday they made my husband promise to keep her in overnight before he released her in order to let her get her faculties back in order. This is where I enter the story.
I get home from work to find this pathetic creature in my garage. She was a mess scrawny, bloody ear, drunk as a sailor on shore leave. But even in her stupor she found the quiet dignity to use the tiny litter box in her pen. I could totally relate.
Of course, I could not allow this cat to go back to the ‘hood, she had clearly used up at least 6 of her alloted lives so I and Lil’ double team the husband and convince him to let her stay and be our outside cat. He reluctantly agrees, silently hoping she runs away as soon as we open the garage door. His only request is that the name has to change, so we rename her GG which stands for Ghetto Gato.
It didn’t take long for GG to take up residence on our front porch, I suspect the pillows, blanket and endless supply of canned cat food had something to do with it. Before you knew it she was part of the family, following us around, stalking our chickens and bringing home dead animals and hiding them under her pillow.
All was well until one day when GG was missing. That night I found her in the shed and clearly something was wrong. She was in shock and holding her front leg awkwardly. We rushed her to the 24 hour vet clinic to be told her leg was broken and because of the nature of the break she will probably have to have it amputated. YIKES!
Luckily, our regular vet just happens to be the only vet in the state who is a specialist in orthopaedic surgery. What are the odds. So $1,200.00 later GG still has her leg although she walks with a limp and of course she now lives in our house. She does not comprehend the concept of free choice food and eats until the bowl is clean, therefore GG now stands for Gordo Gato.
The cause of the broken leg you may ask, she was shot. So to summarize, we take a cat from the mean streets and relocate her to our suburban home as an act of kindness. Over the course of the next six months she proceeds to lose her ovaries, part of an ear and full use of a limb. Oh the irony!