Labor Day Weekend 2013: The Zoo Scavenger Hunt

We passed the zoo on our way to the Okinawan Festival on Saturday and Madison let it be known that she might like to visit. Since our planned beach day had been torpedoed by Madison’s runny nose, we made a deal with Madison on the spot. If she behaved for the rest of the weekend, we would go to the zoo. Purple jack-o-lantern episode notwithstanding, Madison held up her end of the bargain.

I should have included "Feed your father Chicken in a Basket." I wasn't thinking.I went back through the archives of this blog, and if the search function is correct, we last visited the zoo in February. In order to make today’s trip somehow different, Lynnette and I devised an 11-iten scavenger hunt for Madison. I randomly put this list together without any kind of consideration for the layout of the place. The pictures in this entry will be posted in the order they appear on the list rather than the order of accomplishment. Because everybody knows that the first thing one experiences upon entering the zoo is the wonderful aroma of flamingo feces, not the sight of 65 children climbing on a playground built for 20 at a time. I hope we don’t visit the zoo again for another year or so, just so that things fade in my memory a little.

21. Ride the playground slide. I don’t know how I came up with this one first, but when we read the list to Madison, Lynnette immediately put her foot down, probably for the good of our entire trip. “We’re doing the slide last,” Lynnette said. “But after that, I get to play, right?” Madison asked. “Yes,” Lynnette said. Apparently, that was all that Madison cared about. I was able to snap a picture of Madison for my Instagram collection of the Playground Tour 2013, but I got the hell out of there. The playground at the zoo is way too small for the amount of children that want to play on it. I feel as if the tiger – who has a clear view of the playground from its cage – must watch this happen every weekend and think to itself “Well, that’s crazy.” The birds love it, however, because kids=dropped food. Parents also love it because of the copious number of benches surrounding the play area, which are fine for sitting and checking one’s phone for updates on social media. Maybe that’s just me. But I doubt it.

32. Surf the turtle bench. The turtle bench is situated near the tortoises. Luckily, the tortoises were not mating today, so that’s one less thing Lynnette and I had to explain to Madison. We were also at the zoo somewhat early so this time Madison didn’t have to wait to take a picture on the bench.

Once I got this shot, I took a picture of Madison flying off the bench. The zoo is like one of Holden Caulfield’s museums, a stagnant location that never changes. As such, it is a great way to measure Madison’s development. There was a time when Lynnette and I could squeeze Madison between the two of us, but there’s no shot of that happening now unless Lynnette and I have one asscheek hanging off apiece. Both Lynnette and I might have been able to take a really cute picture together, but that would have necessitated Madison to take the picture. There’s only so many times once can be told that “this one is a little bit blurry” before one just gives up on that particular dream.

43. Stick tongue at the monitor lizard. I made a mistake. I couldn’t remember whether the komodo dragon or monitor lizard had its own display. I typed out monitor lizard, so of course it’s the komodo dragon. I know you can’t really see Mr. Monitor Lizard in the shade of his exhibit, but he’s there. I have always loved the komodo dragon since it appeared in a wrestling ring as Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat’s answer to Jake “The Snake” Roberts’ python Damien, which he kept ringside in a burlap sack. But anyway, I am sure many of you have seen the footage of a group of komodo dragons ganging up on a yak. Their poisonous bites slowly sap the life out of the yak, at which point they take bites out of the yak’s flesh with frothy mouths. You’d think such frothy mouths and unethical tactics would turn me off to the komodo dragon, but it’s kind of endearing. Watching them waddle-run then bite the ankles of taller animals is hilarious. But I suppose I would feel differently if I was that taller animal.

54. Wave at a swinging monkey. The spider monkeys weren’t up when we got to the zoo, so Madison had to settle for these bad boys. Madison was excited, but had nothing to do with the lemurs or monkeys situated on the islands in the middle of the pond. Madison was thrilled that she is now tall enough to see over the embankment while standing on that little built-in faux rock stool. “I can see!” she said, excitedly. It gave me flashbacks to last night when she was screaming “I CAN SEE HIS EYES!” about a toy that she was all of a sudden terrified of, even though it had been sitting in her room for the longest time. The monkeys did not wave back and the lemurs were still shaking themselves from slumber when we walked past. Also, those loud monkeys that swing around appear to have left the zoo. Not too broken up about that.

65. Pet a goat. The goats were on a break from 10:30 until 1 or something like that. That seems like a really long break, but the more I thought about it, the more I sided with the goats. If my day revolved around sitting in my home and being touched by strangers, I think I might need a pretty long break, too. It might lead me to smoking goat cigarettes or doing hardcore goat drugs. Instead of petting a goat, Madison had to settle for having a brief conversation with one through the fence. The goat was gracious, answered all of Madison’s questions with silence, and did not move – except when Madison extended her finger through the fence slightly. The goat moved its head, then decided against it. I get it, goat. I hate when people bother me during my prep periods, too.

76. Find a chicken with furry feet. This was Lynnette’s most specific contribution to the list. I suspect that she was thinking specifically of this chicken or whatever it is, because it was all alone in a cage. It was unusually puffy and feathery; Madison was confused as to where the front of the bird might be.

I don’t know what Lynnette’s fascination with this bird might be, but I did ask for her help. Besides, these things can’t be too complicated for Madison, lest she lose interest. I’ve put together scavenger hunts for both Lynnette and Madison during Christmas, but the next one I do for Lynnette on our anniversary next year will take place in Waikiki and feature items such as: 1) Kiss Phil in front of Forever 21. 2) Cup Phil’s right butt cheek in the Halekulani courtyard. As long as I take her to a fancy restaurant, it’ll be win/win.

87. Pretend to be a flamingo. We crossed this one off the list early. Madison delights in telling me that flamingos are so pink because they eat lots of shrimp and suggesting that their feet must be tired because that’s why they rest one at a time. While the peacocks at the zoo have the market cornered on avian arrogance – they go wherever they want – the flamingos might be the birds that give the least you-know-what’s. They don’t care if you come near. They don’t care if you speak to them kindly or obnoxiously (we tried both). They just stand there on their one leg and pick at themselves like the rest of the world doesn’t exist. The pigeons are the least considerate of personal space. The birds in the aviary are the prettiest, and ones in the small cage with the tail feathers twice the length of their bodies  are the coolest in-flight. I am not a bird expert, these are just my opinions.

98. Knock on the orangutan’s bedroom door. One of the highlights of the day was Madison’s attempts to put herself in the places of some of the animals we saw today.

On the rhino drinking from an opaque stream: If I was a rhino, I would drink human water.

On the hippos swimming: If I was a hippo, I think I would swim in water without all the yuckas inside it.

On the elephant reaching for grass under the electric fence: That’s a long trunk, if I had a nose like that, I would smell from far away.

On the orangutan in this picture playing with a bucket of water and other things: The water’s playing with dirty water, mom. If I was an urangutang, I would only play with clean water because he’s getting dirty!

109. Count the zebras and giraffes. The grassland exhibit with the zebras and the giraffes is the best because those guys are always out in the open. I guess it might because their area is far enough away from humans for them to comfortably go about their lives without having to worry about chubby Asian men swearing at them under their breath because they aren’t hitting the right poses or something equally as inane.

Madison’s facial expression does not scream happiness, but that’s because I made her take this picture while she was in the middle of jumping on those rocks near the exhibit. It’s one of her favorite things to do at the zoo. When she could barely walk, I held her up from beneath her armpits and let her walk across them. Later, I held one hand as she cautiously made her way across the tops of the rocks. Now? She doesn’t need me at all. She bounds from rock to rock. “Do you want to go on a hike next weekend since you like to climb so much?” Lynnette asked her. “Yes!” Madison shouted. I guess she’s forgotten about the “I’m never going hiking again” proclamation she made on the way down from the Makapuu lighthouse. Well, in a week, she’ll be reminded.

1110. Find an animal that reminds you of Mom and tell her why. We were walking on a concrete path when we came across of family of peacocks. “That’s the mommy one and the baby one!” Madison shouted when she saw the first pair. Madison approached the couple and they calmly altered their direction up a hill. They were almost over the summit, but I was still able to snap this picture before they disappeared.

“Why did it remind you of mommy?” I asked. “Oh, because the mommy was taking care of the baby, and that’s what mommy does,” she said.  A fine answer. Further along the path, we came across five more peacocks of varying sizes. “That must be the grandma and grandpa and all the grandkids!” Madison shouted. There were other children just as excited as Madison was. The peacocks know all the tricks, though. They scattered into bushes, beneath fences, or up hills – places they know the humans won’t follow.

1211. Find an animal that reminds you of Dad and tell him why. The petting zoo was the second to last stop on our tour. Madison still had to ride the slide, but we knew that would happen easily. “Okay, you have to find an animal that reminds you of daddy in here,” Lynnette said. Madison was hot, tired, and hungry, so she basically picked the first animal she saw. She picked this mini-horse and said “it’s like you, daddy, because it’s taller and bigger than all the other animals.” Now, this was all true. The animals near the mini-horse were all smaller. When I asked Madison if there was anything else that reminded her of me, she shook her head. “It’s stinky over here,” she said. “Let’s go some place else.” So we did.

Hello, September.

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