Thursday, June 26, 2003

Lions and Tigers and.. ok, no Bears

27 June 2003 – Lucky us (that would be mom and Jonathon) joined the Camp Critters crew once again for their Friday field trip. This time it was off to the Money Museum including a video of how money is made (rather than going up to Quezon City where the mint is). I think the kids were fascinated most by the early forms of cash in shells and jewelry but I think that the mint and reserve would be a great trip for us to take-on in a few months.

But there was one old piso design that looked just like Ian’s bus token from Woodbridge. Katherine thought that was great. On the whole though, it wasn’t an interesting collection for so many little kids to walk through. Jonathon figured the bathroom was most enjoyable as we made several stops there, some with more success than others. Thankfully, this trip was in conjunction with a visit to the zoo so it wasn’t too long and the kids were all wound up and ready to spend some energy. Of course, my camera batteries were dead.
We arrived around 10 a.m. and left about 12:30 and in that time we saw a wide variety of animals. I was actually surprised with some of the animals that they did have including an Asian elephant, multiple tigers and a lion. There were a multitude of crocodiles, and one that comes to the forefront of our minds was simple giant and floating in a pool. As we Jonathon, Ms. Nympha and I stood there, it turned its head toward us, moved it up along the barrier so that its snout was pointing up, and slowly opened it mouth to a gaping maw directly at us. OK, -that- was weird. We figured it was too big to make a great leap, and the fence was probably strong enough to hold it in, but we weren’t going to hang around and see what it did next. No, we continued on, down rows of cages containing monitor lizards, red-faced macaques, birds of all sizes and plumage, and pythons among others. Jonathon’s favorites were the birds. Some were really noisy, I think one was called the Philippine Eagle and with a big aviary (housing too many birds), they put up a holy squawk that truly fascinated the little guy.
The zoo was broken into two sections, one with animals to see and the other with animals to touch. We entered the latter through a butterfly zone that housed no butterflies, but only after the kids were invited to interact with some big white cockatoos and a baby crocodile (with snout appropriately taped shut). Onward we came upon little red parrots that the kids could hold on their fingers, and one was quite spunky, crawling all over Mr. Weston’s neck and backpack (Weston is a new arrival to Manila and is a camp leader) and pecking Katherine’s finger. There was a 13’ foot python that was quite impressive as it curled its tail around Weston’s leg. The ostrich was so soft, and there were the typical rabbits, ducks, chickens, pot-bellied pigs, pony and obnoxiously loud roosters.
I must interject here and say that Jonathon wasn’t afraid of anything but the hyper monkey, and honestly that monkey freaked me out a bit too as it raced around it’s little cage with arms and tail flying, grabbing bits of fruit being fed to it. He touched the Burmese python, the crocodile, the pony, and wanted birds on his arms just like all the other kids. I hope to get some photos e-mailed to us.
Katherine’s favorite portion was touching the snakes, crocodile and birds. Nicholas’s favorite was touching the pony (no big surprise there! Him and his “ruh-rums”)
OK, so my impressions. As is a fault of just about every zoo, the animals were kept in areas much too small for them. When we were driving there, I wondered aloud how there could be room for a zoo in metro Manila and as it were, there really isn’t. One cage after another, some were enclosures, many were wire boxes. One held two black birds that looked remarkably like ravens (I never did get a map of the zoo, and a majority of the cages just had numbers on them so you could refer to the map), with a branch affixed to one end and another branch to the other end. That was the extent of the interest for the animals. No greenery, no dirt on the ground, just wire and concrete and two branches. The fact that most of the animals were bored was no secret. Several of the cat like creatures were simply laying in wire cages, with an open box their only source of miserable privacy. I think that the hardest situations to digest related to the animals we all know have a brilliance to them, and that would be the monkeys and their relations. The gorilla especially looked so despondent. In a cage not much bigger than an 11’X11’ room, it just sat there with unseeing eyes and no movement. It wasn’t asleep in the sense of achieving rest, but seemed to have simply turned off.

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