Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

Zoo Nooz

Now let’s go back two nights ago, when I drank in the sight of light. Zoo Lights, to be exact: the taking over of the Oregon Zoo by the psychedelic glow of many, many, oh so gloriously many Christmas lights. Lights as plentiful as leaves on some trees; veritable curtains of bulbs marking off walkways; lit-up representations of animals (because no one at the zoo’s evil enough to put the lights on something living); animated displays of butterflies fluttering or bears bobsledding or penguins diving or – and this may have been the cutest – an inchworm inching, complete with eyes and even a smile. And winding around the zoo were the Zoo Lights trains, giving us a wider view of the dreaminess of these luminous displays. Over there, a crocodile flexes its jaws and grins; to that side, see a giraffe lift a heart-shaped ornament to the top of a Christmas tree; over that a’way, a parent gorilla catches a baby gorilla falling from a tree.

There have got to be people who’ve seen the Zoo Lights on acid. Just sayin’.

Other coolness was there, too: artists were selling goods in one building, and one room was half-filled with a toy train set. Chug-chug-chug…

I giggled and goggled at all these sights. The children attending reacted in their own ways: some laughed and happy-screamed, like when running to a playground or getting tickled by a loved one; some peered shyly at the costumed zoo workers wandering the park, especially one dressed as an eagle; one poor guy needed to be comforted by his mom when a small train passed under the bridge he was on, belching steam and woo-wooing at close range. I hope he’s OK.

All of them will remember this well. Good for them. Good for the Zoo workers, too, for putting this on each year. And thanks to the animals, the regular residents, for not minding our presence.

Or, at least, some of them didn’t mind. I saw an otter blissfully asleep, floating in a corner of its pool, looking enough like a log to fool any natural predators (which makes sense, though thank goodness that’s not an issue at a zoo). A tiger had crashed outside, its breathing visible as its torso rose and fell and as tendrils of condensed moisture wafted; those creatures look powerful even when they’re asleep. Some elephants were awake, as the lights in the main room of their habitat were on – a zoo rep told me that generally those big guys would stay awake as long as the florescent lights are lit. And on the far end of the tolerating-us spectrum: the chimpanzees, who had privacy behind a wall that is rolled out at the end of the day.

Chimps understand the concept of “business hours,” one woman explained. They know when the zoo’s supposed to be closed, and don’t like odd visitors at odd hours. If they do see unknown people, she said, they misbehave.

Poo-throwing? I asked.

Glass-breaking, she said.

Oh, I said.
Tags: creme de la chris, peregrinations, portland

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