When I was almost six until I was barely eight, my mom used to work in one of the biggest zoos in America. A kid's movie was filmed there, while she worked there. No, she wasn't in it. I think she was too busy hiding in the gift shop that she worked in because she hates camera and she hated that particular show. I'm going to tell you her top three favorite zoo stories, with my own added things.
3) Momma had a friend who worked at the zoo, thanks to her friends who were in security. The friend was a biker dude who worked in the animal hospital at the zoo. Every time there was a new baby born, the gift shop cashier who wasn't supposed to be around them, got to sneak in and hold all of the babies. One of the first African elephants born in captivity (that lived) was on that list. I knew about it before the rest of the world did, because Momma came home and bragged that she got to see the elephant within two days that it was born, before it was announced to everyone else.
Siberian tiger cubs were also on the list of animals that she got to see before everyone else (which I'm still jealous about). So were baby American alligators. Momma got to hold them when they were still newborns. A couple of weeks later, there was a big Halloween event at the zoo that I got to go to. The lady working asked kids to go up from the crowd to prove hold the alligator baby. I was the only one without my hand raised. Momma had it set up so not only was I picked, but the photographer took a picture of it, all without telling me until after the fact.
2) Momma would take shortcuts through the exhibits to get from each gift shop, or the various food stands, or where ever else she needed to go. One short cut that she took every single day was through the monkey and gorilla exhibit. When she worked there, there was one silverbacked gorilla. Every single time she walked through the exhibit, he was up at the glass, waiting for her. He would put his hand on one side of the glass and hold it there until he did the same. But he never did it for anyone else.
We moved when I was eight and since I wasn't in town, I wasn't able to go to the zoo until we moved back. My friend and her family invited me to go when I was ten, so of course I agreed to go. Her brother played catch with a baby gorilla and then we went inside, where we could see them up close instead of from above. A silverbacked gorilla was sitting in there. Kids were screaming everywhere and trying to get to him. He walked over to where I was and put his hand on the glass, and left it there until I did the same. In the summer of 2009, I went back with my cousins, and the only silverbacked gorilla followed me around every time I walked within view. They didn't want to stay inside though, so I never got to know if he really remembered me still.
1) Every day at lunch, Momma went to the restaurant there (at the time there was one, now there are several). A little squirrel became her friend. She went and sat at one table in the back, facing the forest. The squirrel sat and just stared at her, until she tossed over a piece of her cinnamon roll. The next day, the same thing happened, and every day after that. Not too long after, the squirrel was waiting at the edge of the forest and would race Momma to the table. Eventually, it would take the cinnamon roll right out of her fingers, but Momma never pet it. They just had lunch together every day.
When I went to the zoo with my friend and her family, there was a squirrel sitting in the trees and watching us. It kept inching closer until we tossed some fries to it. My friend tossed chicken nuggets to it, which it ate as well. I know that it's probably not the same squirrel but I'd like to think it is.
That's it. The A to Z Challenge is officially over this year! I can't believe that I made it through with everything that's happened this month. Thank you for all of your comments and coming back every day to see what I posted. A big, special thank you to everyone who didn't ditch my blog after my two days of ranting and on my crappier posts. And a huge thank you to everyone who helped me pick my topics.
I also want to add, that my favorite stories are #2, #3, and then #1. Momma has it out of order for her favorites but oh well. If I go back to the zoo one day, I'll be sure to tell you all about it, and actually have pictures for you.