Saturday, April 24, 2010

A dingo ate my baby!


After spending the previous day at the Smithsonian oogling over all the stuffed mammals we decided that a day at the Smithsonian National Zoo would be a perfect compliment.

The girls were so excited. Especially Mia. Her love and curiosity for animals always makes me smile. Which is why we let her lead the way. Not kidding, look



Our first stop was the elephants. And I think Mia about lost her mind in shock because (aside from the circus when she was REALLY young) she has not seen an elephant up-close before. She held out her pocket sized magnifying glass to examine them but obviously, that didn't work out so well.



Next up, the gorillas. Which I gotta say, I could have spent the entire afternoon just observing them---but believe me I'm no Dian Fossey cuz even the mere glance at the size of their palms scared the shit outta me.





I don't know....somethin' about him doesn't give off the "come over and snuggle" with me kinda vibe.



Next up was the tigers. Unfortunately, they were too far away to get any good pictures--which I guess, in hindsight, was a good thing.

But can I just say that the fluctuation in my estrogen levels from this pregnancy resulted in me spending most of the day having CRAZY, PARANOID, TOTALLY DILLUSIONAL thoughts running through my head. Like for example, Bella and Mia getting kidnapped by the afore mentioned king gorilla. Never mind the 6 inch thick plexiglass barrier, or the laser alarm system. Oh no, not in my mind. In my mind, somehow they magically apparated inside the Gorilla cage and NO ONE was able to retrieve them. And there I was pounding on the plexiglass....

Or how about the one where Mia wanted to pet the pretty little kitty and somehow went face first into the Lion's den and Bella, being the big sister that she is, went in head first after her. Yeah, that was a good one. I mean, shall we compare and contrast for a minute?



my darlings wouldn't stand a chance!



I figured it was time to observe animals that couldn't pose any threat to my mental well being, like the reptile house. Ahh, yes. This was better. Aside from you know, poison, I'd like to think that in a fight Bella could totally take down one of those tree frogs. In fact, we actually had fun in the reptile house. Although hoisting two kids up to EVERY SINGLE HABITAT became a little annoying but it was worth it. They loved spying on the reptiles. And holy cow, I think Mia can speak parseltongue!! I'm not kidding!! The snakes were coming out from under logs to see her--it was totally that scene in Harry Potter. A frog even kissed her through the glass. This girl's got some wicked powers goin' on....



They were having so much fun together!



Who knew drying your hands could be such a party?



One of the reasons I was so excited about visiting this particular zoo was because we'd get the chance to see pandas. To me, it's like seeing a dinosaur--that's how rare they are. Only a few zoos ( I think only two) in this country have them. Years ago I was let down at the San Diego Zoo when the pandas began walking away just as I arrived at their exhibit and they were pretty far away too.

But this time was going to be different. I looked forward to it for weeks and totally hyped it up to the girls. When we arrived at the exhibit--they were only allowing a certain number of people in at a time and your visitation was limited to ten minutes. My anticipation grew. In fact, I remember noticing that my heart was racing a little, that's just how excited I was. When it was our turn to enter, the guide at the door said "we are asking that you remain quiet while visiting because the female, Mei Xiang, was showing signs of pregnancy." I have no idea why I reacted the way I did but I started tearing up right there just hearing those words--before I even saw her. Pregnancy can do that to you--somehow I found a common ground with this precious endangered animal. But tearing up, really Gina? That's going a little overboard.

Hmmm, now that I think about it, I really like that rule, think I can adopt it?

Bella and Mia, we are asking that you remain quiet because you're mother is showing signs of pregnancy!

It's genius!

When I entered the indoor exhibit, my breath was taken away when I saw her. In all her rare beauty, merely five feet away from me. There she was.



Mei Xiang was totally relaxed. She just sat there eating bamboo. Eating a lot of bamboo. Eating a shit ton of bamboo. I felt even more in common with her :)

video

You would be shocked if you saw all the security that was in place there.

video

I'm jealous of the zoologists who get to watch her round the clock. What a great job! Visiting her was the best way to end to our day. After a quick stop at the souvenir stand, Bella and Mia got little plush pandas to remind them of our perfect afternoon in D.C.

And perfect it was--well--despite that fleeting moment when the dirty warthogs tied us up and dragged us off :)

4 comments:

  1. Love your blog and Neil Diamond!

    I'm so glad you had a great time at the National Zoo. But I'd like to clear up a very common misconception about the Panda House. The cameras and monitors you saw are not for security but for research. Those are volunteers watching the Giant Pandas collecting data for scientists and keepers. But the good news is that they also operate the Pandacam, a live 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week, web feed. Just go to nationalzoo.si.edu and click on "Live Cams." You can't get close to the animals, but you can follow Mei's pregnancy and see what Tian Tian (a.k.a. Pappa Bear) is doing!

    Enjoy!

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  2. The Pandacam is the best! My daughters love it. And you're right, I should have stressed that it is more for research than for security. But to think that those are volunteers observing them---well that makes me want to move to D.C. in a heartbeat! I saw the other day on the zoo website that the exhibit is closed off because Mei has entered her second phase of pregnancy. I am so thankful I saw her when I did. What our zoos are doing to save and further the panda population is remarkable! Thank you!

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  3. I love that the pregnant panda made you cry-- totally awesome.

    Also, Mia is adorable with the map!

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  4. Oh, wow. That panda really is something amazing, huh?? I have never seen one in real life either. I think now a new dream has been birthed in me. Among my other dreams: photographing a bald eagle. Photographing a whale (both in the wild). And sleeping 8 consecutive hours.

    Oh, and touching Robert Downey Jr. I don't even care if it's intentional. I just want to be close enough to touch him.

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