While I was chatting with Colin Firth at the Oscars, my husband took Vivian and William to one of our favourite family activities, the kind where you can waste half a day with children and still emerge more coherent than Muammar Gaddafi.
They went to the zoo.
We love the Calgary Zoo. When the animals aren’t dying in captivity, it can be quite educational. We especially love the gorillas.
But to get to the gorilla enclosure, you have to go by the vultures.
Only minutes after the zoo opens, my husband and kids are hoofing it toward the African exhibit. They walk around the corner and spy a turkey vulture. William does what six year olds do when they see predator birds: he raises his arms, like he’s the Y in the YMCA song. Mr. Turkey Vulture, sitting on his roost, counters by spreading his wings and claiming his territory. My brood resumes their hike, but become frozen when they see the Mr. Vulture’s breakfast crumbs, the remains of a rabbit.
Yesterday, when I went to William’s parent-teacher interview, his teacher said, “William’s pretty preoccupied with vultures.”
I explained their trip to the zoo. And I added, “It’s mostly because he saw the head, tail and legs of a rabbit. It was covered with blood. And the entrails were gone.” I’m pretty sure I resembled Lily Munster in this interchange with William’s teacher.
After the vulture-rabbit scene, my crew arrived for more Discovery Channel action courtesy of the western lowland gorillas.
My husband sat down to watch Kakinga, the silverback, who was relaxing with his feet on the glass. Vivian and William, meanwhile, spotted Yewande, the two-year-old toddler, and Yewande spotted them. She ran toward them.
A game of Simon Says ensued. William banged on his chest; Yewande banged on her chest. Vivian joined in; Yewande copied. Vivian and William ran to another area of the glass; Yewande raced them and won, every time.
This continued for a while or so I’m told. Having heard this story as frequently as Green Eggs and Ham, I can now recite the zoo experience like I was there.
Later, still enthralled with the young gorilla, Vivian yelled, “Eeew, the baby’s picking her nose.” Vivian paused, readjusting her focus. “Now she’s eating it.”
I’m pretty sure my husband didn’t hear anything. He was dumbstruck with what he saw behind the glass. Kakinga, the silverback, was pleasuring himself.
Now that’s something you don’t see everyday.