A Right as Inalienable as Free Speech

…it’s way cooler than FarmVille hahaha…

124 Days left until the Zombie Apocalypse…

I’ve been thinking about the Monterey Bay Aquarium a lot the past week–probably because of the sharks.  It made me think of all of the other really awesome zoos and aquariums I have been to as well.  A lot of people think that zoos are all the same–that they’re just a bunch of unhappy animals stuck in cages.  Maybe they’re partially right–I can’t imagine being very happy to live in a cage.  However, they are not at all “all the same”.  Each is unique and each offers a completely different perspective on the animal kingdom.  And I’m all for that.  It definitely serves an important purpose in our society.  It’s brilliant really.  How else can you entice a world full of individuals into caring about animals?  It wouldn’t make sense for them to all be alike.  Anyway, I’ve been to a lot of different ones over the years because I adore animals and everyone knows it.  Naturally, this means that they all want to take me to see them and of course I have no objections to this whatsoever.  I think I’ve been really lucky in being able to experience animals in a much different way because of it too.  It’s probably even responsible for why I love them all so much.  This is especially true for all of the zoos out there who let you get close enough to touch their animals.  There is nothing quite like being allowed to be that close to the wild to make you feel like you belong to the animal kingdom too.  For me, this could never ever be a bad thing.  Thus, for today’s edition of the “30 Things I’ve Done Before the Age of 30”, I wanted to share some of my favorite photographs of the times I have been lucky enough to get up close and personal with the Wild…

1. The Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo: This is a really fantastic zoo mainly because it is run by local people who have a genuine love for animals and for their community.  They make it fun for everyone and want people to be involved so that everyone else will love the animals just as much as they do.  One of the coolest parts of the zoo is getting to ride the Bison Bus.  They take you out into the pasture and let you feed the buffalo, water buffalo, various cattle, and the zebras!  In the regular part of the zoo, they always have all kinds of cool creatures for you to touch too!  I think that we probably aren’t necessarily supposed to…but they’re kind of hard to resist.  Besides, if they really didn’t want us to, they would stick them all behind moats and thick glass like so many other zoos do.  Anyway, it’s one of my favorites.  These are just some of the reasons why…

I so wanted to bring Peanut home with me!! For the record, baby Capuchin monkeys have the softest little hands EVER!

Water Buffalo are very slobbery…

…regular Buffalo are even more slobbery… =)

Tall Boy and Patches recently had a child. I wanted to adopt it too…if only I had thousands of dollars hahaha

The emu totally do bite hahaha…it never bothers us though!!

2. The West Coast Game Park Safari: This was a really neat zoo too.  They let you pet a lot of their baby animals and guarantee that you will get to encounter an exotic animal of some sort.  We went when I was really young so it seemed even more special to me–especially since a lot of places didn’t do things like that at the time.  When we went, they had a baby snow leopard for everyone to pet.  Since my sister and I were really short, they put the leopard on the ground so that we could pet him too.  They also had a young male lion that they were walking through the park.  My dad got to pet him and play with him a little bit.  He got bit for his efforts, but I think that only made him like it more.  We also got to pose with a cheetah.  That was my favorite part.  I was absolutely obsessed with cheetahs as a child.  Her fur was the softest thing I have ever felt.  It’s still one of my favorite experiences.  For the life of me, I can’t find that picture.  That absolutely breaks my heart.  However, I did find the ones of us with the snow leopard…

You have to love my spots haha…I told you I was obsessed with Big Cats…the spottier, the better =)

I’m a sucker for baby animals haha

3. Marine World…Before it became Six Flags Discovery Kingdom: I’m not a big fan of the park now that it is Six Flags.  I watched a news special on it during the changeover a long time ago and it made me resentful since they sold a lot of animals to make room for rides.  However, it was a pretty awesome place back in the days when it was just Marine World.  We went there so many times that I can still picture the original layout in my mind.  We loved going to see the butterflies–it was always a real treat when they would actually land on you.  We loved the Big Cat shows too.  However, there were two things that always really stand out for me.  The first is the Orca show.  I know that there is a lot of debate regarding captive Killer Whales these days, but I can’t help but love the shows anyway.  They were just so spectacular and agile considering how large they are.  We would always try to cajole our parents into sitting in the Splash Zone and we loved it even more when we were successful.  One year, I went on a trip with my Girl Scouts troop.  We got to sit in the Splash Zone too.  We also got to get a closer encounter with the orcas.  We were some of the lucky ones who got to hug them–and even touch their tongues!  I don’t think they let you touch their tongues anymore, so this always stands out as being a particularly awesome experience for me.  The other thing we really loved seeing was the elephants.  I think I loved them even more than the orcas.  I’m not sure why though.  My theory is that it is at least partially because you could ride them too.  There’s nothing quite like riding an animal that large and feeling the rough skin and scratchy hair brushing against your skin.  It’s totally incredible and I always really, really looked forward to it.

Elephant Rides for the win!

4. The Fresno Chaffe Zoo: There’s something weird about this zoo.  I always think I should hate it.  It’s kind of dirty…and Fresno is…well….Fresno.  However, it also has its own special kind of charm.  I think a large part of it is because of Stingray Bay.  I have a weakness for places that let you pet their fish–yet another thing born from my favorite aquarium.  This one was really neat though.  At the time, it was the only place I knew about where you can pet sharks.  They had leopard sharks swimming around in there with their rays and I thought it was just very, very cool.  My little niece loved it too.  Sharks are always a treat–regardless of their size.  The fact that we could touch them made this one of my very favorite zoos!

Feeding my niece to the sharks… 😉

5. How crazy would it be to omit the greatest aquarium ever?!  So, Monterey Bay Aquarium: I can’t even begin to describe how incredibly special this place is to me.  So I won’t even try.  All I will say is that they were one of the first places to let you touch things–whether it be sea stars or rays or abalone.  For me, they were the one of the first places to make me realize that by touching nature, we also allow it to touch us.  We allow ourselves to step into their world and to become a part of it.  It’s just an absolutely incredible feeling that is always a guarantee at one of the most incredible places in the world.  If you haven’t gone yet, GO!!  You won’t regret it.

So. I have to confess. The abalone have always really kind of creeped me out. I have two really lovely shells of theirs on my bookshelf…and I think they know…

There are so many other pictures I could put on here too.  It’s amazing how many of them I have.  It always makes me realize even more how big of an impact animals have had on me.  I adore them…not that you couldn’t already see that for yourselves considering how much of a nerd I am about them.  Really though, they’re all amazing…even abalone.  For me, I definitely agree 100% with Aldo Leopold that, “There are some of us who can live without wild things, and some who cannot.  For us of the minority, the opportunity to see geese or wild flowers is a right as inalienable as free speech.”  I certainly count myself as a member of that minority.  If you put yourself into situations where you can touch nature–and let it touch you back–then you most certainly will too…

Sincerely Yours,

The Butcher of the Bard

This entry was posted in 30 Things I've Done Before the Age of 30, Countdown to the Zombie Apocalypse, Day to Day Circumstances, Down the Rabbit Hole, My Bucket List and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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