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2009-06-11 digital edition

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2009-06-11 / Community News

Are We Having Fun Yet?

The North Carolina Zoo has a program called "Snooze at the Zoo." It sounded innocent enough. It sounded fun. And I suppose it would have been, if I was not the one who had to go. My husband thought it would be fun to spend some time with my twelve-year old while chaperoning for the school group that used this program as their field trip.

If my husband had not hurt his leg, and if the trip did not include a 6-mile walking tour of the Zoo, it might have been fun - for him.

My older son volunteered to chaperone in my husband's place and he probably would have had fun - if he hadn't been called into work.

I might have had fun if the trip had not included an overnight stay on a cement floor with 17 coed middle-schoolers; all in the same room. Fun was not the word I would have used to describe the feelings I had when said middleschoolers insisted on making hand-puppets on the ceiling with their flashlights until 2:00 in the morning.

Before that, we had learned about all the different kinds of bats and made bat houses so that we could harbor our very own family of bats right in our own backyard. We learned that bats aren't really blind which wasn't very reassuring. I kind of liked the idea of flying rodents not being able to see me.

When I was able to sleep for a few seconds, I dreamt about bats in my belfry. Very not-blind bats.

We met an opossum named George. George was creepy. He looked like Rat-zilla and had a set of teeth that could have belonged to a Tyrannosaurus. Add to that the fact that they only roam at night when you can't see them, and you've got a real live nightmare. I could have skipped that bit of fun.

Of course, it's never fun to wake up at 7 a.m. on a good day, let alone waking up with those same 17 sleep-deprived middle-schoolers. We had breakfast and then proceeded to dissect owl pellets. I really would have preferred to do that on an empty stomach, but my son was fascinated by the pieces of rodent bone and fur that he dug out of his owl regurgitation. Not fun. Definitely not fun.

Next was the "tour" of the zoo. Did I mention that it was 35 degrees and pouring rain? Does that sound like fun? If it does, you are demented. Even the animals were smart enough to stay hidden on such a day. In fact, from their little hidey holes, they probably had a great view of the insane humans wandering around in the freezing rain.

Said the baboon to the giraffe, "And they say humans have evolved."

I looked like a giant Sponge Bob in my yellow plastic poncho over layers of sweatshirts and jackets; all of which kept my torso reasonably warm if not precisely dry. The poncho turned out to be the perfect conduit to dump the buckets of rain directly into my shoes which made me feel as if I was walking around in an Alaskan swamp all day. Yeah,still not having fun.

The Sonoran Desert display? Now that was fun! It was an indoors display. It was 80 degrees. It was dry. In fact, the Sonoran Desert was the most popular place in the Zoo that day and not because it displayed the most skincrawling animals in the world. would have gladly shared space with the tarantulas, snakes, lizards, and scorpions if they would have just let me stay.

The bone-chilling rain never let up and so it was that I commented to my son on the way out of the park, "Good thing we're leaving or we might be required to start building an ark."

He replied, "Yeah, but at least we're in the right place to get two of every animal."

Ever practical, I said, "Right! We could build it in the polar bear pond. They're not out today because it's too cold."

Laura Snyder is a syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at lsnyder@lauraonlife.com Or visit her website www.lauraonlife.com for more info.

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