Today was a nice unschooling day. We went to Mass at our parish at 9:15 a.m. Then we stopped at Dunkin' Donuts to eat breakfast. While we were there we ran into another family that used to homeschool from our parish. This was lucky because we had been planning on meeting other homeschooling families at the Zoo and we were running late. So they gave W a ride home for me. Being 16, I guess he didn't feel like going to the zoo. He wanted to stay home to read and practice on his guitar. He's writing songs for his band. H was at home; she'd slept in this a.m. She's been working the nightshift at Starbucks and closing the store.
Anyway, the rest of us (me, J, S and B) headed into town. We got there just a couple minutes after the 11:00 Octopus feeding which was a bit disappointing but the octopus was still very cool! We only stayed in the invertebrates section for a short time. It was dark, crowded and humid and B really wanted out! She kept saying she wanted to see mammals! We ran into only one family that had signed up for the fieldtrip.
The thing that really interested us the most was the Orangutans. They swing on 'o-lines' across the zoo from the Great Ape House to the Think Tank. The Think Tank is an exhibit that all about the brain and if animals 'think' like humans etc. Orangutans are incredible! We were fascinated. They have volunteers walking around the zoo, hanging out in front of certain exhibits and they have little items to help explain the different exhibits. One lady showed us plastic replicas of an organatans hand vs. a human hand. They have such long fingers! But other than that the skeletal structures are the same.
After the Orangutans we wandered over to look at the big cats. We saw two female lions, one gorgeous male lion (huge head!) and one tiger. Tigers scare me for some reason (I mean why don't lions scare me as much?).
We also saw in no particular order (because I forget now what the order was!) lemurs, prairie dogs, zebras, Przewalski's horses, and tortoises, seal lions and seals. We were focusing on North American mammals to tie it in with our American history studies, so when we went into that area of the zoo we saw Bald Eagles (had a very nice film about DDT and the recovery from the that). We saw the Bald Eagle feeding which we thought sounded like it would be neat but really the zoo keeper just tossed a couple of dead rats out and the eagles kind of half-heartedly pecked at them. The eagles made me sad because their wings are clipped (or maybe they are eagles who have been injured) and they can't fly. They probably aren't hungry because what do they do all day but sit around with people staring at them.
We went over to see the beavers across the pathway. The beavers were tame in that they'd get really close to us. They look like big rats with comically stupid faces! Their tails are otherworldly! They are just so weird looking. We also saw some otters frolicking. Next to the beaver exhibit were Mexican wolves. Apparently these wolves are almost extinct and they are working to bring them back. They were shy and liked hiding up among rocks at the very top of their area. But a couple times they got up and trotted around. Big, beautiful species. Oh, at the beaver exhibit there was another zoo volunteer with plastic skulls of otters and beavers. She also had pelts of beaver and otter that we could feel.
In the midst of all this visiting of animals we had to walk clear across the zoo (no mean feat) to get to a money machine because yours truly had forgotten to get money out beforehand. Then we walked all the way back because we decided we really wanted hot dogs for lunch. We kept running into the other homeschooling family, so that was nice.
Rick joined us after we'd done the North American mammal part. His office is just a short subway ride away from the zoo. He hadn't had lunch and it was 3:00 o'clock already. So he stopped to get something to eat and we walked toward him from the opposite side of the zoo. A very nice feature they have at the zoo are sprinklers that spray a mist at you as you walk through. The weather today was wonderful; mid 80's and not humid at all. But still it was hot enough that walking through the cools mists was very refreshing. B went wild and got herself drenched and then complained about not having a towel.
After meeting up with Rick we decided to go to the Great Ape House. More orangutans and gorillas too. Watching them was fascinating and also sad. They look so human and so imprisoned. The gorillas were shy and had their backs to us. The orangutans weren't shy and came right up to the windows and looked us right in the eyes. We saw a gorilla using a tool! The Think Tank exhibit made a big deal about how we used to think only humans could use tools. But this gorilla had dropped some food in a spot he couldn't reach and so he got a stick and scooped the desired object out and popped it into his mouth!
Rick didn't want to stay any longer so he went back to his office, taking J with him. I took the other two home with me in the car.
Once home, we all decompressed. Didn't get home until around 4:30.
Over dinner I read an article about unexploded bombs in Vietnam from MaryKnoll magazine. They have a little educational supplement to help you teach different age levels. We looked at Vietnam on the globe and noted that it wasn't that far from Borneo, where the orangutans are from.
Now I'm going to read Homer Price to B.