Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Make A Wish with Riley

Today was another Make A Wish day for Riley. Erin and Lindy with the MAW organization were able to pull some strings and get Riley some special time at the Woodland Park Zoo. All we knew was that we were going to go see some monkeys. Luckily the weather cooperated and we got a great day for some sight seeing.

Hay and Rye monkeying around before the primates.

We met up with Lindy and Erin at the entrance and were soon met by Lorna, who volunteers at the Woodland Park Zoo and would be our chaperone for the trip. We got to go on a little cart, the 7 of us, and we headed for the silverback gorillas.

Did you know that apes don't have tails (gorillas, orangutans) and monkeys do (monkeys, lemurs) and that when you pluralize monkey, you don't do monkies? That is just plain weird.

From the ground, as usual.

So we saw the silverbacks like the general public does, from the ground. Then we met up with Tracy, who took us backstage. It was kind of like Jurassic Park, only smaller, and with apes. We got to go into an "employee only" area, then behind a gate, then into the innards of the gorilla area.

Tracy told us to not stand on that yellow mat. Apparently LIONS live in there and can be grumpy. We went up the stairs to the right there and headed above the gorilla area, where we (Haley and Rye and the zookeepers) were going to feed the gorillas snack.

There was something very cool about being able to look down upon these gorillas. It was open air, of course, and it was kind of ripe. Apparently the alpha male, Vip, gets a little agitated when there are new people around and he smells pretty pungent. Here's Vip. Catch a whiff.

Vip is a big boy.

L to R: Tracy, Marci, Lindy, Riley, Haley, Stephanie, Erin, Lorna

We watched the zookeepers Tracy and Stephanie toss carrots, apples, celery, lettuce and broccoli down to the gorillas. They each sat in their spots and porked out. All the gorillas seemed to have these cool African names, except Amanda, which is a cool name, but not African, of course. She did have a baby gorilla, though, but the baby's name escapes me. Check them out.

Look out below!

After the gorillas, we headed back on the cart and went to see the orangutans. Though me and everyone else wants to call them orangutangs, they're called orangutans. True! These guys were big, orange, a little spitty, and very cool. Inside their habitat music was played. I think it was Smooth Jazz 98.9, but I'm not entirely sure. Evidently the animals' skin gets dry, so they had dozens of buckets of water in the room to try to keep the air moist. Interesting, huh? I suppose. Riley liked his mask better.

We got to meet a super nice zookeeper named Felicity. She had an accent I couldn't place, and I forgot to ask about. But she took us around the facility (say "Felicity facility" fast) and showed us these orangs who were huge, mellow and just intelligent looking. One of the females on the outside kept blurping her lips at us and spraying spittle everywhere. Better than having feces thrown at us, I suppose.

Caution, indeed.

We finished up in the orangutan kitchen, where Felicity and a co-worker prepared a few gifts for Rye. There was a framed canvas painting that one of the orangutans had made, some pictures of him painting it, and a bent spoon to show Rye just how strong he was. Riley loved the spoon and here's a picture of our new friends.

L to R: Marci, Haley, Riley (bent spoon in hand), (didn't catch her name!), Felicity, yours truly

From the orangutans, we jumped back in the cart and headed up to the lemurs, where we met Nick. He was a pretty cool dude and he showed us the lemurs, which had tails, which meant they were related to:

a. apes
b. monkeys
c. raccoons

Well, they were related to monkeys, of course. They were quite cute, even with their intense, piercing eyes, but due to the fence they were behind, the pictures weren't all that great. I tried my hardest with our new camera, but I think overall, my pix were so-so. Anyway, here's a lemur.


Riley was feeling a little spent by now and you could tell.

After the lemurs, Nick took us to see the colobus monkeys. I'm from Columbus, but there's no relation. These monkeys looked like monkey sized skunks. They kind of smelled like them. In fact, they smelled worse than Vip from earlier. It was nasty.

Anyway, Nick and the other keepers were training these monkeys. Nick worked with Morgan the monkey. He was getting Morgan to give high fives, show his ear, shoulder, nose, chin, etc. The reason for that was to get the monkeys used to doing it so when a vet had to check them out, the monkeys wouldn't need to be sedated. It was kind of cool. Just a simple command/reward system.

Nick and Morgan

Interestingly enough, there was another monkey being trained named Haley. Needless to say, my monkey Haley had to check it out. Not surprisingly, Real Monkey Haley wasn't a fantastic listener. In fact, she kind of jetted out of there and went to inspect another monkey's tail when we showed up. Luckily, My Monkey Haley doesn't smell nearly as bad as RMH, so I guess she has that going for her.

My Monkey Haley

Once we finished with the colobus monkeys, it was time to head out. We caught our little cart back to the entrance and took one more picture with the ladies who made this possible for our little boy. They even gave him a goodie bag with books and stickers, stuffed animals and antenna balls. It was so much fun to get this tour and we are grateful for it. Now get out there and support the Woodland Park Zoo. Them's good people!

L to R: Lindy, Hay, Rye, Lorna, Erin

Thanks again to everyone involved! We are grateful for the experience and hope to come see the zoo again soon!

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