Ovation: The Zambezi River Hippos Of Memphis.
I’ve always enjoyed a trip to the zoo. Growing up in Chicagoland, trips to the Brookfield Zoo were something that I could never get enough of. I’d look forward to family outings, class field trips and any opportunity to tag along with anyone that was going to the zoo. I would stand and watch each of the animals until someone had to physically move me along. Some animals fascinated me more than others but the opportunity to see creatures from all around the world was never taken for granted.
Being an avid animal lover myself, I appreciated from an early age the amount of time, money and effort that is required to keep a healthy pet. I wanted to volunteer at a zoo and study to become a zookeeper. I realized, of course, that volunteering at the zoo was essentially the equivalent of scooping tons of kitty litter and mucking dozens of stalls, but I loved the idea of working with the animals and being allowed to enter their habitats.
Since those days when most of the zoo animals were kept in cages, zoo habitats have evolved to more closely replicate the natural surroundings in which the animals would be found. Zoos around the world have spent untold millions of dollars creating enclosures that will make the animals “feel at home” and allow them to be presented for viewing and study in their natural environment.
The Memphis Zoo, for example, is closer to raising the money it needs to complete a Zambezi River Hippo Camp exhibit. Thomas Garrett, former president of National Bank of Commerce and his family have reportedly committed to giving $500,000 toward the zoo’s $17 million goal for the project. The Garrett family had limited donations to education and the arts, but decided to give to the zoo because of all that it has done for the city of Memphis. The zoo is not only good for tourism and business development but the family finds it “inspirational”.
The new Hippo Camp, once completed, will become the home of the zoo’s two resident hippos … 54-year-old Julie and her offspring, Splish, 24. The new exhibit, also a home to flamingos, African crocodiles and other birds and fish, will feature a waterfall, man-made rivers and underwater viewing areas.
It sounds to me like a trip to Memphis might be in order once the new Hippo Camp is complete. Visiting a zoo as an adult brings me just as much enjoyment as it did when I was a child … as long as my fellow humans have better manners than the animals that they come to enjoy.
Do you love a trip to the zoo as much as I do?
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