I’ve always loved animals. Some of my fondest and earliest memories revolve around them. My first puppy, Corky (no relation to Cornelius “Corky” Whittenberg in The Saga) was given to me on Christmas of 1968. He was a pedigree Cocker Spaniel. Just like Lady in Disney’s Lady and the Tramp. Did I mention I was a big Disney fan too?
That’s Corky in the picture at the right (Yes, those are fuzzy pink bunny slippers. I’m sure my brother felt like Ralphy from A Christmas Story, only not so horrified. At least it wasn’t a full bunny suit).
When I was little, we made frequent summer trips to the Catskill Game Farm in Upstate New York. I still remember standing at that lion fountain, totally fascinated with it. I think I drank a couple gallons of water that day in between feeding the goats, llamas and sheep.
Several years later when we moved from Yonkers to the Westchester ‘burb of Somers, Muffy came into my life. She was the runt of the litter and the best dog ever! We got her from a family up the street. Dad named her Muffy because the markings on her head made it look like she was wearing ear muffs.
I still have that red ball. All the white is long worn off and it has a big hole in it from where Muffy chomped on it too hard, but I can’t get rid of it.
Later on while going to college at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, I spent a lot of time at the zoo there, sketching the animals. The zoo and the wolves even had a cameo in Loyalties. So did the horses for that matter, I did a stint as a carriage driver for a couple of years too.
A Trip to the Zoo!
This past weekend I had the opportunity to re-visit this childhood joy. My friend, Diana, had two tickets to a private tour of one of Las Vegas’s best kept secrets, the Roos ‘n More Zoo. If you only think of the Strip and casinos when someone mentions Vegas, think again. We have so many off-strip treasures here it’s worth it to drive out past the neon glitz and glitter.
Roos n’ More was an incredible experience. I got close up and personal with lemurs, Fennec foxes, Capuchin monkeys, camels and of course, kangaroos!
On the left is Remington. He’s a lemur and he loves grapes. He had a bit of a confusing moment when Diana offered him a cherry tomato. He put it in his mouth, made a face and spit it out. Sorry, bud, I know it looks like a grape, but no matter how many times you taste one, it’s not going to change.
Then we had Jellybean, the Fennec Fox. She was an adorable little critter. She patiently endured all the petting and attention. After the “show” was over and she was put back in her pen, she got her reward—which consisted of a game of tag with her keeper and excited little squeaks when he scratched her butt. Apparently, this is Jellybean’s most favorite thing in the world.
Oh, and I can’t forget the owl. I purposely took this picture just for Wendi. True, she’s not our Olivia, but she was still as beautiful and impressive.
Although the keeper did admit he wasn’t one of her favorite humans since he never brings her food, just people to look at her, so she gets a bit of an attitude with him. She did come out and let us all admire her before she flew back into her shelter.
Still, being this close to a bird of prey like this was a treat and an honor.
I can’t begin to say how much I loved it. In addition to the interaction, I came away with a lot of inspiration for future shifters.
Roos n’ More Needs Your Help
But the zoo is in trouble. Here’s the story taken right from their site:
Due to some changes with structural use at the zoo and permitting problems we are currently unable to host any onsite events including public zoo days and private tours.
In order to gain the new permits needed to re-open to the public we must raise approximately $100,000 to install a new commercial septic system and some paved walkways. We are trying to contact some resources in the community to raise the needed funds as well as finding contractors that may be able to help with the labor.
What? No! We can’t have this! The zoo is doing such good work, everyone needs to know about this place and visit it. Before we left, Diana told me the zoo was holding a silent auction to raise money. Well…there’s something I could help with. I grabbed a copy of Loyalties, signed it and brought it with me.
I just wish I could do more. And I can, by telling all our Packmates about it. We want the zoo to thrive. The animals are well cared for, they’re very happy. The whole vibe of the place was upbeat and friendly. The kids on the tour were a joy to watch and made me want to make sure every kid could have this kind of experience.
How Can YOU Help?
Even if you don’t live in Vegas, please visit their site and check out their donation page. Aside from monetary donations, they need a lot of supplies for the animals. Simple things like blankets, ziplock bags, food…a donation doesn’t have to be complicated.
And if you do live in Vegas? The restaurant Diana works at, Macayo’s, is holding a fund raiser on Monday, March 24th at each of their three Las Vegas locations. Help the zoo and get some great Mexican food at the same time!
Did you like the zoo as a kid? Share your fondest memories here in the comments, we’d love to hear from you.
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