We hadn’t been to Music in the Zoo at the Los Angeles Zoo in a few years. With no little kids at home, we’d done it so many times, you know, it was old news. But this time they had a Local Scene night and my Pilates instructor mentioned she was going and after a long day at work it suddenly sounded like an evening walk in the zoo might be just the thing.
At first, it seemed like a shadow of the evenings we’d spent in the past. There were relatively few musical groups, no mimes or other little side shows, and the crowds were practically non-existent. But they had street food booths like LA Street Dogs, hot dogs with Mexican, Chicago, Viennese or chili toppings. They had a wine and cheese and fruit stand with a very presentable Merlot offering. They had a mashed potato bar with Martinis—an intriguing idea that I was too full to try at that point.
It got better as we wandered along the paths near the construction area where the six-acre Elephants of Asia is in the process of being completed for its opening in Winter, 2010. We encountered a handsome tusked elephant actively engaged in exploring a eucalyptus tree with his trunk. We heard screams of chimpanzees in the gathering dusk, and came across an exhibit of Tadjik markhors, an Asian species of wild goat that is critically endangered in its native Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. Two pairs of the markhors were born in May at the zoo. This playful group of maybe 15 wild goats was great fun to watch. The alpha male was a beauty, there were juveniles who sparred with their budding horns, the little ones watched from the sidelines. All of a sudden, several of them would explode into springing leaps and run all over the rocky cliffs in their enclosure. We encountered groups of families, single folks, couples scattered all over the park. And we encountered lots of people gathered at the music and at the enclosures with animals on display.
We walked all over the far end of the zoo, often with no one else in sight. It was almost the realization of my long ago college dream of spending the night at the San Diego Zoo. It was beautiful and a little spooky, quite delicious. And then we found the last performers at the World of Birds Show area, had an LA Street taco, enjoyed the small crowd of families there and wended our way back to the entrance.
I hesitate to tell you how special this evening was, because you might remember to come next year and bring your friends and then it would be all crowded again. Good for the Zoo, not the same feeling as tonight. But that might be fun to experience, as well, and it would be great to see the completed elephant project in the cool of the evening.
The Los Angeles Zoo deserves your support. They’ve had their ups and downs, and some challenges with providing the best possible care for the species they house. But the work they are doing to renovate the grounds and buildings is huge. Besides the elephant exhibit, there is a new reptile and insect center under construction and a Rainforest of the Americas
exhibit planned near the current aviaries. The state of the art facilities will enable them to provide better care. I know the zoo would appreciate your donation and support. Check it all out at www.lazoo.org