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Bottoms Up! February 25, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Animals, Humor, Nature, Travel & Leisure.
32 comments

IMGP1216bWe ended the last post, Sarasota Jungle Gardens, with our arrival at the Ring-Tailed Lemur pavilion  housing three adults (Paul-a, Ringo, and Jude) and twin babies, about 5 weeks old.

Weighing about 3 ounces, Yoko  and Ono (our nicknames for them)  bounced around the enclosure like kangaroos on cocaine.

“Bing-Bing-Bing, ricochet rabbit!” 

These two little guys would hop on pop, hop off pop, climb the cage, descend down a tree branch, jump into the air, give themselves a mutual belly butt, then race over to mom.

Reaching mom, they would hop on her back, slide around to hang upside down – bottoms up! – from her belly,  and wrestle and tussle each other to the ground.

With seemingly inexhaustible energy, they ran circles around big brother while bouncing up and down and side to side like boxers getting warmed up for the big match.

We hummed “I like to move it, move it” as they climbed and jumped and pirouetted about their habitat.

And then the show got really interesting.

One of the babies climbed up the cage and slipped through a gap at the door, into the vestibule used by the keepers to enter the enclosure.

All three adults showed their maternal and paternal instincts by racing over to figure out how to rescue the little guy (who had quickly learned that the grass is NOT greener on the other side of the fence).

He scurried up and down the side of the cage trying to figure out how he ended up on the wrong side of the mirror, much like Alice Through the Looking Glass.

Wikipedia ~ Alice Through the Looking Glass (in Public Domain)

Initial concern flowed into increasing consternation at this unexpected  separation.

Mom looked like she was going to have a stroke when she realized that she could not get through the gate to save the little tyke.

Since we had been the lemurs only visitors for 20-30 minutes, BFF headed off to find a keeper to rescue the baby lemur, while I tried to calm the parents and older brother by singing, “Hang on, help is on the way ~ they’ll be here as fast as they can . . . “

Assured by my words, Ringo put his arm around Paul-a and pulled her head to his chest, in a gesture clearly designed to say, “It’s going to be all right.”

Then, Ringo climbed up to explore the cage entrance where he discovered how Yoko (or Ono) had reached the other side.  He slipped his paw through the gap and reached for Junior.

Junior, a quick study, latched onto his father’s arm, and climbed out of the vestibule into the cage proper, as if  following a trail of bread crumbs.

Just as he reached safety, three zoo-keepers crashed through the jungle foliage and raced towards the cage to perform a (now unnecessary) rescue.

Full of admiration for the lemurs, I told the keepers how Ringo had figured out how to save his wayward son without  waiting for assistance.  The keepers  found the offending gap (almost as quickly as Ringo), and held an impromptu conference to decide how best to prevent future escapes.

At that point, a fourth docent arrived bearing brown paper bags filled with treats for the relieved lemurs.   The adult lemurs reached for their grab bags, with obvious delight, and started stuffing their mouths from the portioned  sacks like hungry movie-goers inhaling popcorn.

Reaching the bottom  of the bag, each lemur would turn it over . . . bottoms up! . . . hoping they had missed a morsel.

IMGP1221Yoko and Ono, exhausted from their recent adventures and morning’s exercise, curled up on mom’s back for a time out while she snacked.

They happily abandoned their plans for a nap  when one of the keepers reached down with a tasty treat for them to nibble on.

Before we left, we checked back on the lemurs.  The gap had been closed off with foam edging wrapped around all four sides of the cage door.

Delighted that Yoko and Ono would not end up in the Snake Pavilion, we vacated our role as  temporary guardians and left with a spring in our step . . . “I like to move it, move it . . . we like to move it! “

No rules.  Just write!

What about you?

Are you amazed by the energy exhibited by baby animals and human toddlers?  Do you think we’ll ever figure out how to bottle that energy to infuse elders with similar enthusiasm for life and zest for living?

* * * * *

Posted in response to Sidey’s Weekend Theme . . . Reaching the Bottom (or as I like to say . . . Bottoms Up!)

Sarasota Jungle Gardens February 25, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Animals, Nature, Travel & Leisure.
29 comments

Sarasota Jungle Gardens, one of the oldest tourist attractions in the area, called our names one day ~ we packed a picnic lunch and headed down the Tamiami Trail to visit with a few four-legged and feathered friends.

The barren American Alligator exhibit didn’t impress us much ~ just a concrete pool,  three enormous  banana leaves floating on the surface, and the resident gator, “Attitude.”  

I sighed, thinking that the rest of the Gardens would be the same. 

Not so.

Around the next bend, we saw crocodiles in enclosures with grass and palm trees to frolic on and under. 

While admiring their toothy grins, we heard a cacophony of sound.

We wandered over and found 20  delightful jeweled-toned parrots  hanging around . . . nibbling on sponge cake, watching the sun bake, and posing with tourists covered in oil. 

Did I pose with a parrot?  Of course!

I held out my arm and a gorgeous red and yellow parrot – an obvious parrothead – grabbed my shirt with its talons. 

Eye to eye, up close and personal, we engaged in a few pleasantries:

“Hello.”

“Hello,” replied my feathered friend.

“You’re a pretty bird!”

Nodding in agreement, he replied, “Pretty Bird.”

I encouraged Pretty Bird to sing “Cheeseburger in Paradise” with me.  No luck. 

He demurred ~  jumping onto the waiting docent’s arm, rolling on his back, and waiting for his belly rub! 

Too cute!

Around the next bend, we were surrounded in a sea of pink . . .  Flamingos that were almost, but not quite, as tall as I am. 

The flock wandered in and around camera-toting tourists as if they owned the place. 

Oh, wait, I guess they do.    

The path continued through jungle paths filled with hundreds of species of palm trees ~ pygmy palms, date palms, coconut palms, and even majestic Royal Palms, with trunks so smooth they look as if they are made of concrete.

During the course of our trek, we saw turtles, and lizards, and snakes.  We admired screech owls, and barn owls, and great horned owls. 

We watched a bird show, complete with a 73-year-old cockatoo riding a bicycle on a “high wire,” and another playing “Three Card Monty.” 

We sat in the front row for a reptile show, during which Attitude the Alligator demanded R-E-S-P-E-C-T and displayed A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E  when her trainer slipped a noose  past her nostrils and around her jaws for her weekly scrub down:

Splish Splash . . . we all got a bath! 

The trainer used a long-handled brush to scrub algae off Attitude’s hide.  In the wild, the algae acts as camouflage. 

After the show (and communal bath and shower), we had a chance to pet Crank ~ a four-year-old alligator with a belly as soft as a baby’s butt.

The best part of the day arrived when we stumbled upon the Ring Tailed Lemurs ~ three adults (Paul-a, Ringo, and Jude) and twin babies, about 5 weeks old. 

As soon as we saw those rascals in motion, we started singing the theme song from Madagascar . . . “I like to move it, move it.”  

Next Up . . .  Bottoms Up!

No Rules.  Just write!

What about you? 

Are you a fan of zoos that keep animals in captivity for educational and recreational purposes?  Or do you want to fling open the gates and cry out, “Fly, my pretties!  Fly!”

What is your favorite animal to watch in the wild or enjoy in tamer surroundings?  {Hint:  my favorite starts with the letter “Z”}