Monday, September 12, 2005

Awesome is one way to describe it

This weekend was fantastic. I had no idea I'd love volunteering as much as I did. Of course, it probably had a lot to do with the fact that I was volunteering for something I'm excited about and the people I was volunteering with were awesome. It's excellent finding a group of people you feel at home with because they have the same passion you do (incidentally, finding knitters is this way for me too). One of the kids is not only into animals and has had a lot of experience with them, but we got to talking and it turns out he spins and knits!!! How crazy is that?

So my volunteering duties came down to manning the mountain lion exhibit. Everyone, I'd like you to meet Boo. She's one of two mountain lions they have there. At the time of this picture Boo was watching the elk in their enclosure that's directly opposite hers. Apparently she also likes to stalk children as they're walking by. I didn't see her do it, but that's what I was told.

My job was to talk to the visitors about her and mountain lions in general. Oh, and I had to keep the red wagons that people like to pull their kids along in away from her enclosure. It turns out she really doesn't like red wagons at all. Again, I didn't experience it, it's just what I was told.

It was sometimes more interesting watching the people react to seeing the cougars, especially seeing the kids get all excited. Though the kids that liked to scream and yell at them were a bit obnoxious. Sorry kids, but you were.

What was great about being at the mountain lion exhibit was that it was right next to where they had the stage set up for presentations. Here's where one of the zoo staff was giving a presentation on the otter. The zoo has two otters but at this point it's in the process of raising funds to build a new otter exhibit for them. It definitely helps to have some cute and cuddly (or so they seem) otters to make people feel generous!

There was also a group that brought exotic animals to the zoo to raise awareness. The kid I was talking about earlier (you know, the one who knits) worked for them for a couple of summers so he introduced to me to a couple of really cool animals.

For instance, the binturong . It's also known as the asian bear cat, even though it's neither a bear or a cat. My friend is the one holding the leash. A really cool thing about binturongs is that their natural smell smells just like popcorn. Bet you didn't think I was going to say popcorn did ya? So cool. At that point I already thought I was lucky for even getting to see something like that. But that wasn't even the beginning of it.

Here's the African serval that they brought along. Later in the day I actually got to pet him. Talk about an experience only two months ago I never thought I'd ever do! These cats are described as minature cheetahs. The thing is they don't hunt like cheetahs. Their prefered method of hunting is to jump and pluck their prey right out of the air. Can you imagine being able to jump up and catch a bird in mid-flight? Amazing stuff.

Later on in the day, after my mountain lion watching duties were over, I went around to some of the booths that were set up, one belonging to the group that brought all the exotic animals.

My friend was there and he showed me all the different animals that they had like a juvenile alligator, a coatimundi, a chinchilla (which, by the way, is the softest thing ever), lots of different reptiles and rodents, the binturong and serval from the show and probably some other things I didn't get a chance to see. But I did get to play with the bearded dragon and the macaw they named Sunkist.

To say the very least I had an excellent time and I'm really looking forward to all the other awesome things I'm going to do!

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