Thursday, July 08, 2004

La Vendée, France--Pont-Scorff, France—Day 159

Today we got an early start and drove out to Pont-Scorff to hit up our first zoo.  We rented a car for the trips to the zoo and set off through the French countryside and fields of sunflowers in search of hippos. We arrived at the zoo around 10am and bought our tickets and headed in.  The map that they gave us to find the hippos was pretty shoddy and it was hard to tell where they were (we realized that the hippos were in fact polka-dotted on the photocopied map so it was hard to distinguish them as actually being hippos!) and set off of this long route to get to the them.  The zoo itself was organized sort of haphazardly and almost felt like we were in someone’s backyard. 
After walking for quite a ways (in the wrong direction) and then assuring ourselves that we were actually on the right path we made it to the hippos. Mom and Peter spotted them first and Mom started shouting, there they are Sarah! There they are!! So we rushed over and after a while I was able to spot them too—two of them.  They were in this huge sort of river looking enclosure (the first I’ve seen that actually looked like there were rapids!) and the hippos were swimming around eyeing us all the while.  I snapped away and then realized that Peter had wandered off over to where a few zookeepers were working on the landscape around the hippo enclosure.  He came back quickly and said that the keeper wanted to know if we wanted to see them being fed! Well of course! Thank goodness Peter is fluent in French—I guess he got just about a few sentences into my story of why we were at the zoo and the zookeeper just offedred to feed him for us.
Thank god.
So soon thereafter the keeper emerges (he must have been just about my age or even younger) with a box containing several green apples. He starts calling to the hippos (Palmyre and Linda—which he wrote down on a piece of paper for us!).  Linda was right up there ready for her apples but Palmyre was a little bit more reluctant but soon we had both opening their mouths and happily being fed apples while I was happily taking pictures of them.  Mom and Peter were happy to see them being fed (Mom was gasping with excitement) and I think the keeper was happy to see just how happy we were to see the hippos being fed. 
So I took lots of pictures and when the apples ran out we thanked the keeper and he went back to working on the plants with his colleague and we watched Linda and Palmyre a little longer before heading back out of the zoo.  We wanted to buy some souvenirs at the store but it wasn’t open (and didn’t seem to be opening any time soon even though it was open when we passed it on our way to the hippos) so we decided to leave the zoo.  We then drove for a few hours more and stopped at a winery on our way to tonight’s hotel which was basically in between today’s zoo and the La Fleche Zoo which we will be heading to tomorrow.
(c) 2004 Sarah Galbraith.  All Rights Reserved.