A Day At The Zoo

I came home from work yesterday at 10:00 am.  Friday is my short work day.  Husband asked as I came into the house “How about going to Bismarck to the zoo today”? I said yes, and off we went.

We haven’t been to the Bismarck zoo for years, not since our daughter was little. It was a fun day made really special by watching a zoo keeper train bobcats. They are trained, with raw meat treats, to follow verbal commands like sit, paws up, follow the target, and go in your crate. She also exposed them to sprays from a bottle of fly spray so they would tolerate the spraying. Raising one’s paw above one’s head allows zoo keepers to check paw pads for cracks or injuries, and underbellies for impending kittens or too much weight gain. Rufus, the bobcat male, loves being trained and is really good at all the commands. Ginger, the female, is a bit stubborn. Rufus hates the spray bottle. He very willingly went in his crate, an important skill to have if you need to go to the vet.

What a fun job!  The zoo keeper paired the command and its successful completion with a loud click and a morsel of raw meat. I don’t fully approve of zoos, but I see their purpose in protecting endangered species.  I would love to train bobcats! I wonder how they train the primates?

How do you feel about zoos? What are your experiences in training animals?

81 thoughts on “A Day At The Zoo”

  1. i’ve been to the zoos here in minneapolis with my kids and withheld my opposition to holding animals captive for our entertainment.
    when i was little we went to como zoo and seeing the lions and tigers in their little cells with a bowl of water on the floor and hot sweaty smelly animals laying in the corner or walking in a circular loop with pathetic tedium looking defeated rather than like a regal example of wildlife. the minnesota zoo is lots better but the idea is still similar. a herd of zebras in a 3 acre fenced pen is better than the 100×100 pen at company but it still feels like jail.
    san diego zoo is an effort at making people the visitor and animals the dictating consideration where a vehicle is required to cover the grounds because area is so large it is possible to miss the critters completely hiding in a back corner
    people and animals have such an odd relationship
    people have odd relationships with everything i guess animals shouldnt be surprising but at least they are getting better
    i’ve been back to como and visited the zoos in chicago milwaukee and maybe another spot or too that i find depressing. the practice of catching and transporting animals to be exhibited for our enjoyment is not my cup of tea. gorillas and orangoutangs are pathetic, lions and tigers are pathetic, otters and seals and sloths and pandas are interesting to look at but you gotta feel sorry for them getting stuck in a life of limited scope. looking into an animals eyes tells the story of the soul and i don’t think there are many strong stories at the zoo.
    the zookeepers wife was an outstanding film if you get a chance to see it. an interesting view of zookeepers in the 30’s in germany with a good storyline
    i love the collections of plants gathered together in a conservatory for a nice afternoon of humid aromatic commingling with nature.
    animals don’t leave the same joy at the end of the visit.
    the circular paths that are every critters fate in a zoo maybe remind me of how limiting life can be. seeing them in yellowstone is wonderful. africa with protection for rhinos and gorillas difficult to enforce and poachers reminding me that mankind has an ugly underbelly takes the fun out of celebrating our place in the cosmos

    geeze i am a downer this morning. wanna talk about the prison systems and what’s wrong with humanity?

    i used to think spacemen were going to come and snatch me to be studied for human specimen diagnosis wherever the spaceship dropped me. i was sure i wouldn’t like it. maybe that’s my problem. i always get into the animals moccasins and don’t like it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Zoos are probably a pretty good life for the species that are prey animals. The herd of zebras, for example. If they have three acres, they’re probably pretty content, and they don’t have to worry about being ripped to shreds by a lion.

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        1. No but there’s little doubt that his dad could get away with gunning you down in broad daylight and get away with it.

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        2. He said he could do that on the street in New York. I think you are safe on the streets in ND. However, your handbell trip to New York—be very careful!

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  2. I’m somewhat ambivalent about zoos, and I certainly don’t consider them just places of entertainment. Surely there’s a lot of learning, education, and preservation going on as well.

    I, too, recall the old Como Zoo, and indeed, the building that housed the big cats was awful. The stench was terrible and the cages small, truly a depressing place to visit. It has been much improved, but still too small, in my opinion, to house some of the animals they have there.

    The Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley is much better, though the last many times I’ve been there were for concerts, and not to see the animals. I wonder how much loud music bothers the animals? Likewise, when fireworks are set off, I ponder wild critters of all kinds, both captive and non, scared out of their wits.

    As a child, I loved going to the small zoo in Nykøbing. I was especially fond of the sea lions and the monkeys, but was frightened of their white pelican which roamed the grounds freely. He tried to eat my dress once. Later on, when we moved to Copenhagen, I went to the Copenhagen zoo which was much larger. That’s where I saw my first elephant and giraffes. I remember being particularly fascinated by the Emperor penguins that would walk right up to you and peer into your camera if you bent down to photograph them.

    I visited the Dublin zoo once when I was eleven years old. The only thing I remember from that excursion was sitting in a fancy seat atop an elephant while he strolled leisurely about. Which reminds me, the local Saint George Antiochian Orthodox Church has a festival each year that features camel rides. For a while I contemplated going for a ride, but so far I haven’t out of fear of making a spectacle of myself getting on and off the beast.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. If it was me, the camel mount/dismount would require a ladder at this point in my life. My uncle taught me to leapfrog over a horse:s rear end onto an unsaddled horseback. At this point it is not even possible—even a horse requires a ladder.

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      1. It most definitely requires a ladder, and they do provide one with a platform on top, but I’m still hesitant. You don’t really realize how tall a camel is until you stand next to it, and from what I understand they are somewhat temperamental beasts. I can just see it contemplating my approach and thinking “she looks heavy, let’s not give her a ride,” and walking away while I’m in the process of mounting him.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. They can train the animals to do this. However when you are on top of one of these large animals such as a camel, and they start to stand up the angle that you end up at is not an angle you want to be at.

          Liked by 2 people

  3. Rise and Shine Baboons—well maybe. I don’t know for sure. Do I want to get up and out?

    Ambivalent is the word of the day. I also am ambivalent about zoos. Some zoos procreate endangered species—that could be a good thing. The old zoos with the mangy animals and depressed cats and apes. Uffda. I avoid them because I feel depressed after being there. Yet I do think it is good to expose people to animals that are cared for adequately. Some animals are abandoned or injured, and without a zoo, they are prey for something else. But then there are the clueless people who are so deluded they try to pet the tiger or crawl in a cage, not understanding the nature of the beast.

    I like the San Diego Zoo or the Minnesota Zoo with the broad spaces and generous living conditions for the animals. That I can tolerate and even enjoy. There is a debate among environmentalists about whether you consider humans A PART of the ecology or APART from the ecology. Is human predation a predatory factor. I am in the camp considering humanity a predatory factor that changes the environment, not apart from it. That view of humanity accepts the fact that we keep animals for our enjoyment and it is, in a way, predatory behavior. Pets, hunting, animal skins displayed, and on and on.

    Later today I am trimming and weeding my garden. So is my garden a zoo for plants?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. PS. There is a mountain lion running around a popular park in Eden Prairie. Near a dog park. And has been seen on the walking/biking path. HMMMM. We are going to another dog park today with my captive, pampered dogs.

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      1. On my way home from the dog park, right by the city police station, a Bald Eagle flew low in front of my car and assumed a hunting position on a light pole. I wondered where the local rabbit population had gone. 50 years ago, at age 16, I did not envision living in a suburb with a mountain lion and bald eagles as part of the community.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. You two must have cursed my tomatoes. One of the plants had collapsed its cage and it fell over in the garden today. I will have to add a large stake to hold up the cage, then find the bunge cords.

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  4. How could any thoughtful person simply be “for” or “against” zoos? They seem irrevocably connected to ethical compromises. Zoos allow children to experience animals, even if it is under artificial circumstances, and that has to be a Good Thing. And yet poorly designed zoos or those that encourage animals to beg for food are degrading and inhumane.

    Animal-friendly zoos often let animals hide from visitors, while people-friendly zoos give animals no privacy. That would seem to argue that animal-friendly zoos are inherently better. But if zoo visitors can barely see animals, they won’t return, which defeats one of the major reasons for creating zoos.

    I resolved my discomfort with the idea of zoos when I concluded they offer a unique (albeit distorted) way to introduce children to the natural world. If kids have no contact with animals whatsoever, they don’t necessarily feel they are missing anything. I am sure it is good to help youngsters care about animals, which means I am glad there are zoos. I need only remember what zoos meant to my daughter when she was little. She is passionate about animals now. Zoos helped foster the reverence for wildlife she feels.

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  5. Terriers are a challenge to train because they are bred to work independently, and the are very emotionally sensitive. You have to convince them that what you want them to do is fun and will work to their advantage. They are the oppositional defiant characters of the dog world.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I too am one of the conflicted, can see pros and cons to zoos.
    I am searching my memory for when I first experienced a zoo – there were no nearby zoos in my childhood, and the first zoo memory I can find is taking the kindergarteners on a field trip from St. Anne’s of the Sunset to the South San Francisco Zoo. (And there is precious little memory of that – I was probably trying to keep track of the 40 kids, though I’m sure there must have been parent assistance.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s pretty expert level cat training, I’d say.

      I trained Gizmo, our late parrot, to say “I love you.” Thought I was pretty clever, but Gizmo outsmarted me. From that day forward whenever we’d try to teach him a new phrase, he’d simply tilt his head to the side, look at you and say: “I love you.” He knew that would get him the desired treat. But parrots are always listening, and you never know what they’ll pick up. They’re wonderful mimics.

      Liked by 5 people

  7. OT – Went to the tiny, but mighty, local farmer’s market this morning. There’s one African grower there who always has interesting stuff for sale. This morning, while I was picking up a baguette from his neighboring vendor, he motioned to me to come on over; he had something new to show me: fresh Mississippi pink-eye peas. I bought a whole mess of them, and have just finished shelling them. These had better be good, that was a lot of work. While i was in the Southern mode, I also picked up some okra. Yum!

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      1. I’m going to try this recipe with the pink-eyed peas:

        Pink-eyed peas simmered with smoky pork

        Chop 3 slices of bacon and place in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once the fat begins to render, add 1 diced yellow onion and 3 crushed garlic cloves. Sauté for about 5 minutes, then add 1 quart pink-eyed peas, 2 bay leaves, 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, 1 tsp. kosher salt, and a pinch of black pepper. Fill with enough water to just cover peas and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until peas are tender. Strain and serve. We’ll probably have a small smoked pork chop and a caprese salad with this.

        With the okra I’ll try this chicken okra stew with African spices that I found on the internet:
        https://toriavey.com/toris-kitchen/chicken-okra-stew/

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I do too, Renee, and my hands are really sore this morning as a result of almost two hours of shelling the pink-eyed peas. But I can see where I could buy a whole mess of these, and go sit on Helen’s deck with two or three friends, and in no time we’d have them shelled. It’s one of those activities you can do while carrying on a conversation even if you’re not good at multi-tasking, which I’m not.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Today is very cool and rainy. We have new sour dough starter and malted wheat flakes, so I am making sourdough baguettes and granary-style bread. Husband is making sourdough beer bread with malted wheat flakes.

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        1. I make a whole wheat dough and roll it out, I use pesto in place of tomato-based sauce, then slice tomatoes that I place on top of it. Then I add all my other toppings and I grill-bake it. It is delicious.

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        2. You can bake it on a gas grill or a charcoal grill. You heat it up as high as possible (my gas grill heats up to about 600*) then either move the coals to the side or turn off the interior gas jets. I use a flat grill pan with the holes in it. I have used multi-layered aluminum foil). THen put the pizza over charcoal free space in the middle or the part where the gas jets are off. Then let it bake. I use a Weber grill or a gas grill with the cover which you must do to make this work so it bakes.

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  9. I am another of the ambivalent ones re: zoos. On the positive side are things such as captive breeding for endangered species and educational programs. Having been on safaris and game drives in South Africa, Kenya, and Tanzania, I have a very hard time seeing animals in cages – even f the “cage” is a large enclosure with trees, water, and room to roam. It’s not the same as being in their natural habitat. Seeing huge herds of wildebeest, zebra, elephants, etc. in the wild just can’t compare with seeing s few in a zoo enclosure. Nor can you see the predation that is a natural occurrence in the wild.

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    1. Another positive is that people who would otherwise never have had the opportunity to see such wild animals live, can do so at a modest cost. Not just children, but adults as well. After all, it’s precious few of us who would otherwise have ever seen a polar bear, a kangaroo, lion, gorilla, or koala in the wild.

      Liked by 5 people

  10. OT – It’s such a drab and soggy morning. Think I’ll whip up some Menemen (turkish scrambled eggs with tomatoes and pepper) to brighten things up a bit. I just happen to have fresh flatbread and garlic sauce on hand. Things are looking up already.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Wow!- Just half inch here.
        Got oats combined last week. It did not yield well, less than half of a normal year, but the quality was surprisingly good. 35 test weight surprised even the seed salesman and elevator guys as most oats this year was in the 20’s. (A bushel is supposed to weigh 38 lbs)
        I’ve gotten all the small bales of straw that I want for this year – 260 for the neighboring strawberry farm, and adding 100 bales to my left over 200 bales for all you gardeners.
        Some straw left in the field to make large round bales once it dries again.

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      2. About an inch and three quarters here. I’m very glad I had a pump installed in the basement this spring. It’s still kinda damp down there, but what an improvement over previous years.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Does that make a difference in how the county regards the situation? If there’s a child present, potentially social services could get involved.

      I just heard recently that Medicaid recipients are supposed to start receiving housing assistance from the county. The baby is almost certainly on Medicaid, and probably the mother as well.

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      1. I spoke too soon. Tina and the baby were there, and so were a lot of other relatives, including Jackie (the executor of the will), Pauli, and Bones (the youngest brother), plus lots of grand kids. It appeared they were having some sort of family celebration. While the adults were in the house eating cake, one of the grand boys evicted the Virgin Mary from her bathtub; she is now sprawled in the grass. Apparently none of the adults noticed. But they all left about half an hour ago, so whatever they were celebrating was short and sweet.

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  11. I’ve had a kitchen breakthrough. Cut up a lot of my little very hot peppers today to dry them in the oven. And I put on rubber gloves first. Whew. Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. I had a breakthrough of sorts in reclaiming my front sidewalk. After dousing yellow jacket nests a few times with castile soap and boiling water over the last week, I think they are gone.

    Yellow jackets are valuable pollinators, so I’m not really dancing a victory dance or anything. But if you have a situation where you’re getting stung or there’s risk of other getting stung, you have to weigh the costs and benefits of eliminating the nest. If you can do it without pesticides, that’s a victory of sorts.

    Liked by 5 people

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