Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Going To the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo

(Yes, that's a children's song, and you can count on someone with a degree in Music Education to know of it.)

Today I ventured over to my hometown visited the Folsom Zoo Sanctuary, for the first time in almost 20 years. Incidentally, the last time I visited, I was a senior, participating in Student In Government Day. While my classmates dressed up in suits, ties, dresses, blazers and other appropriate business wear to shadow the mayor or the Grand Poobah or whoever, I showed up in jeans and tennis shoes...because I had signed up to shadow the head zookeeper.

And you don't wear a suit to the zoo.

But I digress.

I've always loved Folsom's zoo, because it's not a zoo by the standard definition. In fact, they've added the word Sanctuary because that's truly what they are, and always have been. All residents of the zoo are unable to live in the wild, either because of injury (there used to be a three-legged wolf, many years ago), human stupidity (bobcats are not pets, and declawing them is cruel), and other, usually human-induced reasons. Also, many orphaned animals come in when the mother is killed, or has abandoned them.

Over the years, the Friends of Folsom Zoo have done a marvelous job raising money so that the zoo could expand its facilities to give all animals adequate space and proper habitats. The bears, for example, have a small waterfall and running "creek" to a pool to splash in. All of the animals have dens or other appropriate places to hide. Animals who like to climb are provided ramps and runways to relax on.

The zoo never breeds, sells or trades animals. Some animals come in for temporary placement while a permanent home is found--for example, foals rescued from Premarin factories. A sign near the entrance stating the zoo's Mission Statement proclaims that the hope is for all animals to die of old age; however, animals are euthanized when it is determined that they are suffering too much.

Most animals at Folsom Zoo Sanctuary are native to California, and especially to the nearby regions--the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the foothills, the Sacramento Valley--and as such, there are a lot of wolves and wolf-hybrids, coyotes, golden eagles, bobcats, mountain lions, and black bears. However, the zoo has some non-native species, like a pair of macaques (I stood and watched them groom each other today) and a pair of African tigers who were found during a raid on an illegal organization in Southern California in which one of these beautiful creatures was found in a three-foot by three-foot cage. Other tigers' carcasses were found stuffed in freezers. Horrifying--I can't imagine being involved in a bust like that and the heartbreak of seeing these magnificent cats submitted to that level of cruelty.

Throughout the zoo are wonderful educational features for kids and adults alike, and it is obvious that every animal is cherished and well-cared for. Today, as I wandered, it was a warm afternoon, so most of the animals were napping. Henry the black bear splashed in his pool for a moment, but otherwise seemed content to rest. A docent remarked to a family that this time of day, at this time of year, the animals are mostly quiet, eager to rest and escape the heat as best they can. Just like us!

Of course, I took a bunch of pictures for Instagram, but I'll go ahead and save those for my weekly Instagram post.

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