Why I Need to Wear Earplugs to the Zoo

On Black Friday, we opted to avoid the shopping malls and instead spent the afternoon walking around the lovely Phoenix Zoo.  The orangutans were out enjoying their enclosure in defiance of all the signs claiming they were off exhibit.  A new habitat for them is currently under construction, which will be lots of fun.

However, as much as I enjoy zoos, I have a problem where I seem to overhear every single incorrect statement about the animals made by other zoo-goers, causing me to become increasingly frustrated as the day goes on.  Examples from Friday:

  • Outside an enclosure housing flying foxes: “Huh, I don’t see a fox in there anywhere.”  That’s because you’re looking for a canine with a bushy tail.  A flying fox is a bat.
  • Overlooking the island where the siamangs live: “Ooh, monkeys!”  Monkeys have tails.  Siamangs do not have tails.  Siamangs are lesser apes.
  • By the cheetah habitat: “No, these aren’t jaguars, they’re leopards.”  Well, at least you’re on the right continent, but there’s a sign right there
  • And also: “Pumbaa wasn’t a wild dog, he was a wildebeest.”  Um, what?!  Pumbaa was a warthog.  A warthog.  This is an offense against not only zoology but Disney as well.

You get the idea.  Anyway, my favorite animals at the Phoenix Zoo aren’t actually any of the captive animals on exhibit, but the wild birds who hang out on the duck pond during the winter.  On Friday I counted Mallards, Northern Pintails, Northern Shovelers, American Wigeons, Ring-necked Ducks, scaups (don’t ask me which species), and Ruddy Ducks – seven duck species in one afternoon, right in the midst of a busy zoo.  Even better than the ducks, though, are the moorhens.

Because they’re members of the rail family, I always think of Common Moorhens as being secretive, standoffish birds.  Not so at the Phoenix Zoo.  They patrol the picnic areas looking for crumbs, so bold that I could easily get great photos of them even with my little camera.

“Whatchoo lookin’ at?” he seems to be asking.

Hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving!  I’m on my way back to Georgia for three more weeks of work before Christmas.

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