At the Zoo

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By Judy Berman

A chance to get a behind-the-scenes look – whether it’s of a movie set or some less traveled place? I’m there.

On Saturday, Dec. 12, more than 200 people joined Florida Today’s community walk at the Brevard Zoo in Viera, Florida. There are some surprising sites along the way: an alligator that lay in wait for unsuspecting visitors (fortunately, it was fake), trash turned into art to reveal the damage done to nature by litter, and a 17-foot giraffe peering at us from a window in the barn.

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Natasha the Turtle is part of the Washed Ashore Exhibit. It is an amazing art piece made up of discarded water bottles, plastic lighters, shotgun shells and much more debris that was collected from area waterways.

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The exhibit is to alert the public that this trash is a hazard to sea turtles, and other wildlife along the shore. Turtles, for example, mistake plastic bags for jelly fish that are part of their diet.

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As we are leaving, I spotted a dragon climbing over the fence. Apparently, it is trying to escape.

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Then, in the zoo’s barn areas, a curious giraffe casts a watchful eye on the humans passing thru.

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After this point, I part ways with the tour to take photos at the zoo.

Brevard Zoo advocates wildlife conservation thru education and participation.

Just before the meerkat exhibit, I see zookeepers holding onto two of the zoo’s dingoes (wild dogs native to Australia). The dingoes are quite civilized, as they pose for photos with members of the Jaguar Society.

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Around the corner, a cheetah stares off in the distance. The attraction? Possibly a tantalizing whiff of nearby prey. (The cheetahs have a larger area to run in other than this enclosure that visitors see.)

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The rhinos are not in their usual space. They take their time ambling thru the area typically inhabited by giraffes and a Stanley crane. Once they leave, the Stanley Crane – who thinks he’s a human – runs with one of the zookeepers.

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I continue my vigil, waiting for the giraffes at an overlook of lemur island. The lemurs scamper about and a few boldly stare back at us. Just who is observing who?

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The giraffes are not on the horizon for at least another half-hour. A volunteer explains that the giraffes are very protective – and less social – since the birth of a baby giraffe about two weeks ago. Then two giraffes round the corner much to the delight of their fans.

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Have you had a behind-the-scenes excursion you’d like to share? Or one you’d love to see?


All zoo photos taken by me on July 12, 2015 at the Brevard Zoo in Viera, Florida.

Music Video: “At the Zoo” by Simon and Garfunkel (first released as a single in 1967).  They got a few things wrong about the animals’ personalities, but it’s still a fun tune.

  1. what an amazing day this must have been – how lucky, judy! i’ll bet that you learned more on this day than on all your other trips to the zoo –

  2. In a season of reindeer and teddy bears, it is interesting to read about cheetahs and escaping “dragons.” Jacksonville has an outstanding zoo as well.

    A behind-the-scenes episode to share? Years ago when we saw “A Prairie Home Companion” in Brooklyn we tried to get into the after-show party to see Garrison Keillor, but we didn’t have the right credentials and couldn’t crash the party. We got as far as the inside of the elevator. Ha!

    Now to click on the video “At the Zoo.”

  3. It looks like you had a wonderful behind-the scenes-tour, Judy!
    We were not behind the scenes, but today we were also outside visiting Ground for Sculpture. Such a fun and beautiful place, and it was amazing -for-December-in-NJ 70 degree weather!

  4. The art of Natasha the Turtle is stunning, Judy, but the giraffes are my favorites, but I loved all the pictures. Our favorite excursions have shifted from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado to the Rolling Plains Preserve in Kansas. We learned so much, and the grandchildren (at 12 and 11) were mature enough to do the activities and even help clean up some of the pens and assist in feeding the “infant” animals.

  5. What fun to be behind the scenes . I adore animals but not a great fan of zoos . About ten miles from where we used to live was a safari park , it was so strange to see elephants in a feild just before we went the visit a gorgeous little Georgian town of Bewdley . 😌

    1. Cherry … I’ve visited several zoos and am pleased that ours offers a lot of space to the wildlife. In one area I lived in, its zoo was ranked among the ten worst. They began to make much need improvements in the 1980s and the results were excellent. 😉

  6. Looks like it was a great day. It’s been a while since I’ve been to a zoo other than a quick trip to the Central Park Zoo this summer with my son when I was in New York for a writers’ conference. Love the pic of the giraffe peeking over the fence!

  7. I hope the dragon managed to escape! 🙂 On a serious note, though, it is sad to see how we, as humans, have messed up mother earth even where we could have easily avoided do so. I feel bad about the turtles trying to eat plastics.

    1. I didn’t stick around to see if the dragon got away. But I do hope so. 😉

      The plastic holders for six-packs and much more is a real hazard to wild life. I wish that every one would follow the mantra of: “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.”

    1. Dor … That sounds like fun. I went to a Safari Park in Toronto (I think) many years ago. I’m so glad we decided to rent one of their vehicles because the monkeys were eating the material off the tops of the cars. Hilarious. 😉

    1. Kath … Sometimes, I just like to sit and relax as I watch the animals. It’s a very relaxing place. I enjoy the train ride they offer, too. (a ride that both the kids and adults enjoy). 😉

  8. Hi Judy,

    Your pictures allowed me a virtual excursion of the Zoo and thank you for that.I particularly loved that photo of the two giraffes. They brought for me memories of a safari we did recently in South Africa where we fell in love with a family of giraffes.


    1. Hi Shakti …
      Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. I always enjoy my walks thru the zoo.
      Your safari in South Africa sounds really cool. Giraffes appear very sweet and gentle. But when the “boys” get into a head butting contest to show dominance – yeouch! that’s got to hurt.

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