Yesterday we took a trip to the Sacramento Zoo. A small zoo by world zoo standards probably, but a nice way to wile away a rather balmy early summer afternoon. Though arriving just as the zoo was to open, the parking spaces close to the entrance were already full save one, naturally facing the opposite direction. Rick decided we could still grab it if he maneuvered around. Putting on his blinker a white mini-van pulled up close behind us. Looking in my rear view mirror I could see a woman with her mouth moving wearing a lime green visor seated behind the wheel. Purposefully she blocked our way not allowing us to back up far enough to execute a u-turn. Honking her horn as we moved back Rick uncharacteristically obliged her and moved forward parking several blocks away. Stories circulating about road rage make it not worthwhile to argue over a spot or desired lane change these days. On the way back approaching the same spot on foot we encountered the white mini-van now parked in “our spot”. The woman in the visor was barking orders at six or seven screaming out of control kids pouring out of both sides of the vehicle. A miniature platoon with their drill sargent’s orders rolling off them like melting ice off hot pavement. The only other adult evident was a well wizened woman probably hovering around ninety. The older woman appeared unnaturally short in stature due to legs so bowed a water buffalo could have easily passed through them without making contact with skin on either side. Standing in the street she was wandering about muttering as though praying for someone to come and rescue her from all the noise. Looking up at Rick who was still fanning a low burn about losing his parking spot I whispered, “give the woman a break, she’s going to have a busy day”. Thankfully we went on quietly on down the road.
At the entrance we purchased our tickets from a friendly lady behind the glass and were handed a map. Gray haired docents in safari hats and bright yellow polo shirts greeted us and asked if we had any questions. The canary shirts were to become a familiar sight as we traveled through the maze of paths leading to each destination. Taking the path to the right we gathered with a group watching a flock of beautiful flamingos grazing by a pond. Birds are incredible creatures, these in particular fascinate me. Their brilliant pink feathers are a result of the algae and brine shrimp which are part of their diet. I must remember to check my cheeks next time I make a pot of gumbo.
Each cage following had placards in front describing the birds living inside. Birds with oversized colorful beaks, and geometric feather patterns could be seen pecking along the ground or perched on branches. A docent explained the birds with the spotted backs were pheasants. Yum. Oh, sorry.
Moving past the bird section of the park we came on the African cages. First in line were the giraffes and it was feeding time. A line of excited children had formed up a set of wooden stairs beneath a sign reading, “Feed the Giraffes – $3.00”. Sign me up. Rick just laughs at me. Happily I took my place in line behind twenty other children and waited my turn to feed the giraffe whose long neck and curious face could be seen moving in and out of one side of the platform. “Grandma what big eyes you have”, I found myself thinking. And what long eyelashes. I would have killed for those in my twenties. A hungry type of beastie his long tongue extended as each person paid their money and got their two pieces of tree to offer by way of sacrifice to the long-necked god. My turn, I took my bits of trees and waited as he moved in towards me. Commenting on his appetite, the trainer explained he was the only male in the compound and considered a bit pushy by the females in residence. So, unable to do anything else with his time he’s content to eat at feeding time to the delight of the crowd. Poor guy.
Next to the giraffe compound were the zebras, and after that a lone orangutan sat on a perch looking rather miserable. When I see the animals behind bars, if you will, a twinge of guilt pinches that my pleasure on watching them there comes at the expense of their freedom. To assuage this nagging feeling, I would like to think if we are aware of what wondrous creatures are roaming our earth, we will be more careful about keeping them here. At one point the large orange creature turned and looked straight into my eyes. “Sorry”, I thought. “Wish I could help.”
As the temperature rose it got fairly warm along the trails. We stepped into a shaded corridor with a sign reading “Veterinarian – Zoo Guests Welcome”. Inside the cool open ended corridor was a line of windows with people peeking inside. A doctor in full surgery garb and one assistant were performing surgery on a snake. Who knew? A docent told us they were tagging the snake to track it in the wild. Wild? What wild? Are they going to let it go? I need to go. No really, I need to go. In spite of my dread of all things slithering and poisonous, I watched fascinated. A tube was inserted in the snake’s mouth which was, I assume, anesthesizing it. The vet worked on one side while the assistant manned the mask and whatever was in the tank keeping the Snnaaaaake, ewwwww, asleep. They’re not so bad when they’re asleep. Maybe I should carry a syringe of antesthetic when hiking?
We went from Africa to Australia and viewed kangaroos languishing in the sun, Mom and Dad from the looks of things and any manner of wild pigs with long snouts and homely faces only a mother could love, or perhaps another wild pig.
All in all it was a great day. I didn’t get my cotton candy and passed on the stuffed animal, but thoroughly enjoyed sharing space with the animals at the zoo.
This is a great side for burgers or grilled meat of any kind. It’s good hot or cold.
Southwestern Grilled Corn
3 ears sweet corn
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 orange bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper chopped
1/2 red onion, sliced thin then halved
2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
3 Tbsp. hot chunky salsa
Salt and pepper to taste
Pull all the husks off the corn and remove the “silk”. Place whole cobs completely covered in cold water to soak for 30 mins. Remove from pot and pat dry with paper towels.
Rub each cob with butter and sprinkle with garlic salt. Roll each cob individually in tin foil. Place on preheated grill over medium heat for about 20 mins. Remove foil and allow to cool slightly. Using a sharp knife cut corn from cobs.
In microwave safe dish place all three peppers and red onion. Toss with olive oil. Cover and cook for 6 mins., stirring once. Transfer to bowl with corn. Add cilantro and chunky salsa. Season with salt and pepper to taste.