Hello. My name is Mike. I’m thirty years old and a native of West Virginia. Like many of you gathered here today, I have an issue. They say that the only way to get over your problems is to admit that you have a problem. Well folks……. I really really like animals! haha
It should be no surprise by now to hear that Brittany and I spent a full day at the San Diego zoo. The nations best! If not for my passion for MX I’d surely be in some sort of animal related career. Being at the zoo brings out the kid in me like no other. Several times, while standing on the edge of an exhibit, I found myself competing for the best view of some four legger with people half my height. Most folks my age seem to have grown out of this fondness for nature and its wonders. Not me though. Not even close. I fully appreciate the other species that we share this small planet with whether they be plant or animal. Many of their jobs in nature is what makes our existence possible. Sure, a few lesser known species have unfortunately made the extinction list in the last few years, but now, due to our toils across the planet, larger more well-known species, have their existence teeter tottering on a non-renewable edge. The African lion, or king of the jungle as we know it, is one of those species. I heard a statistic from a documentary not long ago that stated 60 years ago there were more than 400,000 lions left. Now, due to mans impact, there are less than 5,000 alive today. That is just plain scary. I couldn’t imagine a world without lions. Thanks to places like the San Diego zoo for tirelessly working to raise awareness about our non human neighbors. Without zoos, parks, and designated wildlife reserves we may have already lost animals like the lion.
Our little journey at the zoo started out with a loop that led us to a giant male African elephant. The biggest one I’ve ever seen and the closest I’ve been to an elephant. He was impressive, from the dexterity that his trunk displayed, to his prehistoric looking toe nails. Next we were on check out the big white polar bears. These guys, like the lions, are in a ton of trouble due to habitat loss. This was my first time seeing a polar bear and boy are they big. Their cuteness is almost enough to fool you into thinking that they are nothing but gentle giants. To survive in the conditions that they call home, these bears have to be undeniably accurate hunters. One slip with an opportunity to snag a seal and they may not see another one for a week. From the polar bear exhibit we meandered through the zoos many twisty little jungle trails to the gorilla pen. I could have spent all day just zooming in on these guys facial expressions. Their hand similarity, to ours, is so peculiar. The zoo is huge and on we went. Aviary’s full of exotic birds, reptile exhibits galore, cats of all shapes and sizes, and crazy little monkeys kept us entertained for hours. I could write a post on each creature in the park if time allowed. We wrapped up the hike around the park at a section called the urban jungle. This is a loop near the entrance and exit gates where the massive rhinos and giraffes can be found. I couldn’t help looking at the giraffes and thinking that they look like a hairy Brontosaurus and the rhinos seem like the modern-day mammalian version of the long extinct triceratops. Powerful to the tenth degree and with horns that can make your knees shake. The last exhibit that we passed, before leaving, was perhaps the most unexpected. It was a long narrow pen with a cheetah and a golden retriever in it. At first I thought that the golden retriever was in there for food. (just kidding). It turns out that this exhibit was full of domesticated animals, even the cheetah, that the zoo keepers take to local schools or walk around the park to help kids gain a fondness for wildlife. That’s where it all starts. If you don’t gain a healthy respect for our planet and its non-human inhabitants as children then, odds are, you won’t gain one as an adult.
Brittany and I were wiped out from the miles of trekking around the zoo, so we grabbed a bite to eat at a Mexican restaurant and called it a very early night at the good ol’ Motel 6.