Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Waking up with the animals.

This Saturday morning was a bit different to our normal Saturday mornings. Usually, I get up with the girls, whenever they are ready for their breakfast and I let Mr Foodie have a lie-on (before people say anything, he does return the favour on Sunday mornings).

But this Saturday, I set my alarm for 7 am. I got up while the girls were still asleep and got ready to go out. It was a lovely autumn morning, with a bit of a chill in the air, but the sun was shining and at least, it wasn't raining. I had to set off at 7h30 to make it into town for quite a special event: 'Waking up at Dublin Zoo'.

A few bloggers had been invited to go to the zoo, before the doors opened to the public and go around and witness the keepers waking up the animals, getting them out and giving them their breakfast. I had to get there for 8h15 so I rushed out and got on the road early.

We made our way into the zoo through the back door, the service entrance. After some tea and coffee, the big group was split into 3 smaller groups and we went off to different sections of the zoo. I got to meet Hot Cross Mum (whose TV appearance last year prompted me to start this blog!) and Eavan from Irish Moms. Since none of us specialize in photoblogs, you could spot us a mile away with our small (and in my case absolutely, completely outdated *hint hint Mr Foodie, Christmas is only a few months away**) digital cameras, amongst the 20 or so photobloggers with their paparazzi-like equipment. So I apologize in advance for the quality of the pictures!

Our group set off to the African Plains part of the zoo. We, first went to the chimps. The keeper let them out and threw them some apples. Although I had seen chimps before (dah!), I was amazed at how human like they were. They were gesturing at the keeper to throw them more apples and one in particular was clapping anytime one of his chimp friends caught them. The keeper told us all about the hierarchy within the group and also how aggressive they could be. Blogger doesn't want to let me upload my lovely pictures of the chimps, so unfortunately you'll have to do without.

We then moved onto the rhinos. While the keeper was talking, it sounded like he was talking about his pet dog. He was saying that they love being tickled and that they kind of rolled onto their backs too. Bear in mind that these are 2000 to 3000 kgs beasts, not a little chihuahua.
A baby rhino should be born soon in Dublin Zoo.
After the rhinos, we went to see the giraffes. The keepers had to let the zebras, oryxes and ostriches out first and while this is all happening, the giraffes were patiently waiting in a very orderly line in front of their gate. The keeper was explaining that they separate the male and the females at night so,  in the morning, they greet each other by rubbing their necks together. She was also explaining that one particular giraffe greets her in the morning by licking her forehead, same when she brings her back in at night.

The giraffes go through an incredible 160 trees a week!

Afterwards, we met with the other groups and went to see the elephants. The keepers had planned to wash them for us but since the temperature at night had gone near freezing, the water was too cold to do so and they wanted to make sure that the calves would not catch a cold.

The only baby elephant ever born in Ireland was born in Dublin Zoo, 2 years ago.
We then went back to the Meerkat Restaurant for a warming breakfast and a chat and we were then released back into the wilderness of the zoo for a wander around at our own pace.
Dublin Zoo is a wonderful place to bring your kids on any given day. I would highly recommend it to anybody. My advice though: Wear sensible shoes as there is a lot of walking involved. Witnessing it, without the crowds and noise was just an amazing experience. The keepers were very eager to explain to us all about 'their' animals and they really are passionate about what they do.

I wish to thank Dublin Zoo for having allowed me to be part of such a wonderful experience.

You can find out more about the zoo and any upcoming events on their website: Dublin Zoo. And if you are stuck for ideas for Christmas, they also offer adoption packs!

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