My friend James invited me to a fun event with his friends in Columbus, Ohio last week: Zoofari 2012. The event benefits the conservation and education programs at the zoo which is rated one of the top 10 zoos in the country.
The USA Travel Guide website says: [No other zoos] have achieved the positive worldwide reputation of the Columbus Zoo, arguably America’s favorite.
Staff members wandered around showing off smaller animals and giving talks on their characteristics. We were able to touch a Bearded Dragon which is a desert dweller and can flatten its body to the width of a pancake when predators are around. When flat, the dragon's spikes (you can see them on her sides below) become prominent and make it difficult for predators to attack successfully.
We also learned about alligators and were able to pet this female (below). She felt smooth rather than scaly, almost like a bone. Her handler said, "We're hoping she grows to be at least 10 feet long."
A kangaroo was also out and about. She was on the move and didn't care to pose for a photo. It was truly fascinating to see this animal up close. Kangaroos have bizarre looking middle toes which help with balance. The toe has a long, fierce-looking nail (creepy but awesome) and kangaroos use their tails as a sort of third leg, moving around in a naturally choreographed arms-toes-tail combination. Her fur was very soft. I could have watched her for hours.
We met a Bush Baby or Galago which is from Africa, in the family of primates. The animal has large, thin ears that help it slow down and navigate when jumping from tree to tree. People were not allowed to touch him and he had two handlers (one was carrying food).
Some of the animals were still out early in the evening and we had a blast watching the polar bears. These two (below) played like a couple of cats for a few minutes, pawing at each other, and one chewed on a stick for a while like a canine.
Food and drink vendors were scattered throughout the zoo grounds and it was enjoyable to try new treats and see creative presentation. I adored a cake decorated with a zoo theme and I'm so sad that I failed to write down the bakery. Look at this thing!
The company made the evening even more fun. (R-L) Robin, Michael, W.D., Art and James have known each other for more than 25 years. Their interaction is entertaining and they play off of each other with the familiarity of family. Zoofari is a lovely event.