Today we spent most of the day at the National Zoo. I realized that my younger daughter (nearly three) had never been to the zoo, and hoped that having her see and hear the animals in person would correct some of her misperceptions (for example, whenever she sees a bird – any type – she shouts “Whoo-whoo!”). Some re-education was in order.
By far, the biggest hits were the “misters” (showerheads scattered throughout the zoo which generate a cool mist on hot days) and the hyperactive meerkats. We set up the stroller in front of the meerkat exhibit – with the thin glass separating her from the animals by only a few inches – and let her scream with glee as they zipped back and forth. (Predictably, she then spent the rest of the day saying “Meerkat, meow, meow.” So, more corrections needed.)
Our one disappointment was that the sea mammal display was closed; we’ll go back this fall when the renovations are complete. On this hot day, I was reminded of the cool, wet imagery in Seamus Heaney’s “The Otter:”
…You are my palpable, lithe
Otter of memory
In the pool of the moment,
Turning to swim on your back,
Each silent, thigh-shaking kick
Re-tilting the light,
Heaving the cool at your neck.
And suddenly you’re out,
Back again, intent as ever,
Heavy and frisky in your freshened pelt,
Printing the stones.