Sunday, September 16, 2007

Day Fourteen -- More apes

Towns are closer together in the midwest and east compared to the west -- but they're not THAT close together. Ohio has quite a few big cities, and they are an hour or more away from each other. I took it easy this morning and didn't leave my motel until about 9:30. Was surprised when I realized that I wouldn't get to the Columbus Zoo until noon -- and the zoo is north of town.

It's kind of perverse that I spent yesterday (Saturday) and today (Sunday) at zoos. Those are the busiest days and here I am on vacation. Wish I could have worked it to visit the zoos on slower weekdays. And today was Jack Hanna day at the Columbus Zoo, drawing even larger than normal weekend crowds.

The new parking lot at the Columbus Zoo is HUGE. It appears to be practically as large as the whole Oregon Zoo. The zoo itself is also very big. Once inside the zoo, I found some staff people and asked about contacting some of the ape keepers. They radioed the keepers for me and I was directed to the gorilla & bonobo habitat, clear on the other side of the zoo. I got plenty of exercise today.

At the gorilla habitat I met Catherine, a docent who gave me lots of info about the many gorillas before Dan, the keeper, showed up. Dan took me all around the bonobo habitat and told me about the individuals. They have 17 bonobos, including several youngsters. All can be melded into a single group (sometimes) but they put them together in different subgroups. After the tour I spent quite a bit of time watching them.

Only six zoos in the U.S. have bonobos. I've visited three (now four) and two were less than impressive. I thought the Columbus Zoo set up was great.

Just as I was about to head out to see other parts of the zoo, I heard a loud noise coming out the the gorilla exhibit. The big male was racing around. He was being chased by the three females who were screaming. They didn't let him off easy but kept him darting around the fenced exhibit.

I spent maybe another hour and a half exploring the zoo before returning to my car way, way out in the parking lot. I decided to head for a highway exit just north of Cincinnati even though I wouldn't get there until about 6PM. Once again I quickly found a budget motel near several eating options -- and a supermarket so I could stock up on fresh fruit.

Not sure what I will do in the morning. I'm not supposed to get to the Primate Rescue Center until 2PM and it looks to be about 2 hours from here. Cincinnati Zoo? Maybe. Or perhaps I'll sleep in.

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