Friday, July 16, 2004

Back in the U.S.A.

Made if back to Minnesota safe and sound late last night. Off to a friend's wedding then to the hippo conference! More updates will come next weekend. See you in Seattle!

Monday, July 12, 2004

La Palmyre, France—Day 163

After having a day off of hippos and just relaxing, we woke up early today and were on our way to La Palmyre by 6:30am.  We drove for a few hours and after stopping for breakfast at a patisserie on the way we made it to the La Palmyre Zoo and were the first in lines! We bought our tickets as soon as the gate opened at 9:00am and headed straight to the hippos, past the lions and kangaroos.  We found the two hippos and both of them were sitting in the water.  With both hippos sitting in the water, it appeared as if today might be more difficult than the previous two zoos that we’ve visited together because these hippos appeared to not be moving and given the remnants of hay on them that they had already eaten.  So Peter went off in search of someone who could possibly help us and tell us their names while my mom and I waited and watched.
They didn’t do much at all besides occasionally take a breath of air.  Peter came back after a long while and although he had found out their names (Reglis and Princess), he said that he had to speak to several people who didn’t know the hippo’s names and had to track down the hippo keeper in the giraffe enclosure, which is why was gone for so long. 
Since they didn’t seem to be in any way eager to move at all, we started to call their names to see what would happen. So Mom started calling them and Peter put on his best zookeeper voice (with a heavy French accent of course) and I started laughing and, of course, taking pictures. 
At first they both weren’t moving, but definitely started listening to us. Instead of putting their heads down into the water, they both sat perched with their heads and ears just so that they were out of the water and listening to what must have sounded very funny.  Good thing we were the only ones around the hippos for the time while we were there! We were even getting looks from the kangaroos next to the hippos. Anyways, we kept calling and calling and finally they started to stir and Princess even stood up a little and opened her mouth up to Peter.
Success! We were all delighted and I thought for sure that would be the best that it would get and that the hippos would just finally ignore us and go back to sleep. But then all of a sudden they both started climbing out of the water! It was amazing! Peter and my mom kept calling them and sure enough, the both got themselves out of the water. Princess headed straight for the door that lead to their inside pen (presumably where they get fed everyday) and stood there waiting.  Reglis on the other hand went straight for a few tree branches that seemed a little bit more interesting than standing by the door. But only after he turned around and pooped right at us. It was SO funny—perhaps the funniest thing I’ve seen so far—because the timing was perfect—here we were calling them for minutes upon minutes trying to coax them out of the water and FINALLY (miraculously) they did it only to turn around and show us what they really thought. It was perfect and we all just about died of laughter when he started wiggling his tail with his great big bottom pointed RIGHT at us.  Good thing he was too far away from us to, well, you know, spread the love. J It was hilarious and we definitely felt put in our place—a well deserved show of appreciation on Reglis’ part.
I kept clicking away and finally the pair realized that we were not in fact going to feed them (poor things).  Reglis spent a moment showing the kangaroos next door to them who was boss (showing him his huge teeth, one of which stuck almost horizontally out of his mouth) so they both finally made it back into the water.  Just as they got back into the water a keeper came by (apparently one that Peter had talked to earlier) and said (in French no doubt) that we were so lucky to see them out of the water because they only do that once a day—if that—after they have been fed and NEVER in the afternoon, so we were lucky. 
He OBVIOUSLY doesn’t know how talented we are in hippo calling. 
After hitting up the gift shop, we made it out of the zoo and back into the car, feeling like we definitely did a job well done with this one. We couldn’t stop giggling about Reglis’ show of affection and how we actually, truly, did get them out of the water.  We drove over to the coast (the La Palmyre Zoo is right near the coast of sort of south-western France) and had a tea and coffee break before driving all the way back to my Mom and Peter’s house.  We spent the rest of the day around the house, feeling good about our efforts and glad that we didn’t have to do any more driving. 
The La Palmyre Zoo is the last zoo that I have on the list to do before the Hippolotofus Conference in Seattle, July 23rd-25th…Until then!     
(c) 2004 Sarah Galbraith.  All Rights Reserved.