Sunday, July 20, 2008


That’s how I would describe our day at the zoo yesterday. Shocking, I know, given my previous complaints about how I perceived the day would go. And my worries weren’t completely unfounded in terms of children running in all directions and not listening. But for the most part, they were pretty good.

The amazing part of it all started almost after we first got to the zoo (after horrendous traffic, but that’s neither here nor there). Not too far in from the main entrance was the reptile house. A huge (air-conditioned) building with snakes, lizards, etc. We walked around in there about 20 minutes, and then headed back outside to start making our way to the fancy tent where lunch was being catered. (We got into the zoo for free through MIL’s DH’s company, and part of that deal was free lunch.)

Anyway, right outside the reptile house was a zoo employee. A young “kid” (about 21 or so), holding a small snake, talking to kids that walked past, telling them about the snake, etc. Grace (of course) may a bee-line for the guy and soon to follow were Hannah, Gunnar, and Garrett (Gunnar and Garrett are my nephews). So the guy starts talking to all of us about the snake, other snakes, the elephants, etc. and after about 10 minutes, he hands us a paper and says, “You know what? Meet me back here at 2:30 and I’ll give you guys a little ‘behind the scenes’ tour of the hippo feeding.” Awesome!

Honestly, I figured we’d get to go back where only employees go (cool!) and watch the zoo employees feed the hippos. But oh my god, was I wrong.

We met the guy at 2:30 and he said, “OK guys! Follow me!” He lead us through this big wooden gate that said “Employees Only”, which in and of itself was cool. Then we met two other women who work at the zoo who are in charge of feeding the animals. They employees started telling us about hippos. How they’re one of the most dangerous, vicious animals there are (which Steve and I knew because we’re “Animal Planet” geeks), and how even though they’re herbivores and only eat plants, they kill things like it’s their job because they are VERY protective and territorial. It’s nothing for a hippo to kill a tiger, lion, etc. if they feel threatened. Alrighty then. LOL!

So they start handing out rubber gloves to all of us (!) and wheel out a huge garbage can filled with just lettuce. Lots and lots of lettuce.

The two hippos that are at the zoo quickly ran over to us. Now the way it’s set up is that the hippos are basically down below, and we were all standing at the top of a stone wall that was a bit above the hippos’ heads. They said no employee has ever gone into the actual habitat with the hippos because it’s too dangerous.

Well, as soon as the hippos reached us, they lifted their heads, opened their HUGE mouths, and wanted their meal. That’s when we all got to start feeding them. Basically, we took huge handfuls of lettuce and tossed them into the hippos’ mouths. It was just SO cool to see and do. I couldn’t push my shutter button fast enough to take pictures.

And thank god, I had my 50mm prime (fixed) lens on the camera. Basically that means that the lens does not zoom in or out AT ALL, and at 50 mm, you’re basically seeing what you do with your naked eye. So all of the pictures I’m about to share are literally how close we were to everything. Just fascinating. The insides of their mouths are just amazing. I couldn’t believe how HUGE their teeth are! And what’s funny is that those teeth are used strictly for defense, and they use only their lips and tongues to actually eat. Just unbelievable.

And without further ado, why don’t you share in our amazing hippo experience. If you’ve ever wondered what the inside of a hippos mouth looks like, wonder no more. LOL!

These are from when they first wandered over when they realized it was feeding time.

Hippo 1

Hippo at the Philadelphia Zoo

And then, the kids started throwing the lettuce into their mouths.

Open Up!

Hippo Love

Hey dude.

Grace and the Hippo

Grace, Gunnar, and Lulu

Wanna see what the insides of their mouths look like? No problem, my friends! ;)


Look at those TEETH! Dear GOD! LOL! (And remember, I can’t zoom with this lens.) ;)

Inside of Hippo Mouth



And then, at one point, while the hippo had his mouth closed, Grace and Gunnar got to pet his chin. Awwww! Look at his little tongue. LOL!

Petting the Hippo

It was just such a cool once-in-a-lifetime experience. So, so cool! The kids LOVED it, and admittedly, so did the adults. It was one of those days you never forget and you go to sleep that night knowing you will never have an opportunity like that again. Just a really, really cool day. :)


But enough about that. I know you all want to know if the sister-in-law wore “The Visor”. And the answer is yes. Yes, she did. I TOLD you all she would. LOL! See?


However, at least in THIS case, the visor made sense. Outside. In the sun. At the zoo. (That’s Steve’s brother, SIL, and their 2 boys in that picture.)

However, what had me TOTALLY flabbergasted (and still does), is that she had camouflage shorts on.  Camo. SIL doesn’t “do” camo. Well, apparently she does… I’ve just never seen it. She is soooo not a camo person. She’s strictly Eddie Bauer khaki, polo shirts, etc. To see her in camo almost made me shit my pants. AND they were paired with $2.00 Old Navy flip-flops. What the hell?!?!


So I have several theories here…

1) She’s going through her mid-life crises (she’s the same age as me… 35), and is trying to dress “younger” and trendier.

2) She knows I wear camo whenever possible (because I’m cool like that) and she’s trying to be just like me because she thinks I’m cool.

3) She was trying to look as “zoo like” as possible, and figured that the visor, the camo shorts, and the flip flops made her look all “Safari”.


3) They’re piss poor broke and can only afford to buy $2.50 shoes. (And that’s cool with me. I love my PayLess and WalMart shoes. SHE however, doesn’t.)

It was just weird. Really, really weird. However, I am determined to figure out the mind of this girl come hell or high water, and I will figure out what makes her tick if it’s the last thing I do,dammit. LOL!

Alrighty. I’ll post more zoo pics tomorrow. But I was so hung up on the hippo ones, that I didn’t have a chance to even look much at the others I took yesterday.  Later gators! ;)


Chelle Y. said...

Those pictures are really cool! Glad you had fun. Now, I need to see pictures of the zebras! :)

Mary said...

What an awesome experience! We're going to the zoo tomorrow, and I doubt our visit will rivial your kickass one, but we'll sure try!

love the pics, looking forward to seeing the others!

Beth said...

Absolutely amazing!! And besides the amazing subject your pix are clear and sharp!

Oh...and hi again...

Kelly said...

OMG I don't think I've ever seen a hippo that close up!
And me thinks he needs a dental visit. LOL.
And you SIL is probably just trying to keep up with her hot & hip SIL. ;o)

September said...

I vote it's option #3--she seems like she could be sucked into going themey. I'm really surprised, however, that she didn't dig out pink cammo from somewhere (that's what I'd do, lol).

Those shots are great! I heart that lens. I've got a little collection going but that's still the one I use when I want really crisp shots.

Agent M said...

Very cool hippo pics.

I think that she wants to be like you...yeah, that's the ticket. :)

Susan's 365 said...

Very cool photos. I'm voting for #2 that she wants to be cool like you.

kmf said...

Oh Good Lord! That's what Hippo teeth look like! Now I've seen everything! Fabulous shots, I've got to get me a lens like that. Thanks for sharing, and making me laugh at you poking fun at your sil. Kim

Tink said...

Please forgive me, for I have sinned. I have not been on here in... fuck, WAY too long. Those hippo pictures, when I saw them on Flickr, kind of freaked me out. But I'm totally jealous now that I have the full story. Those kids are going to remember that experience for the rest of their lives!

That last picture of SIL cracked me up. She's looking at you as if she KNOWS what you're doing. 35 is too young to have a crisis of any kind. Personally I think the shorts are cute. But not on her. Not with that shirt or with that visor. Only old people and men with receding hairlines (like poor Hoop) wear visors.