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What is it that makes Man the apex predator on the planet?
It's not size. Bears think we make good snacks.
It's not tools. Otters have thumbs, too.
It's not problem solving. Octopusses cannot be contained.
It's not teamwork. Lions have pride.
It's not agriculture. Ants farm underground.
It seems to me that the one thing that mankind does that nothing else in the animal kingdom can match is writing lists like this. Humans are the unparalleled champions of navel gazing.
Take that, dolphins!
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After leaving Sandusky, Trey, Leslie, and I headed south to Columbus. With some time to kill before the soccer game would start, we decided to follow a lead provided by our party planner, Brian. We headed directly towards the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, or as Brian described it, "Jack Hanna's zoo." This nickname is a little misleading; as I was disappointed to learn, you won't find Jack Hanna in any of the cages.
It was well over 90° in the midday sun, and most of the animals were smart enough to be lounging in whatever shade they could find. Naturally, our first objective was the polar bear enclosure.
Surprisingly, the polar bear was one of the only animals in the zoo that seemed completely indifferent to the heat. Perhaps that's because they had their own water park, fully stocked with toys and snacks. The other bears at the park, including the sun bear (seen below), had to settle for water misters. Personally, I'd take a swimming pool over a Willy Water Bug any day.
The zoo was full of exotic animals I'd never seen before, but from the pictures I took, you'd think it only had bears. There are red pandas, Asian lions, West Indian manatees, and Komodo dragons, to name just a few. But really, the highlight of the zoo was the great apes, the gibbons, gorillas, and bonobos. Many of the zoo's primates are very human, some making a sincere attempt to communicate with the visitors, while others just pointed and laughed. Generally, I'm no fan of the ape, but I have to say that the Columbus Zoo's apes acted more human than some of the visitors.
Even with every creature great and small napping, the visit was still very much worth the time and expense ($15 per person, plus $7 parking). In hindsight, I wish we had more time to spend.
After last week's UGA game, I dropped in at the Athens' Bear Hollow zoo to check in with the zoo's resident Bald Eagle, Amazon. Because of a wing injury, she can't fly. Therefore, she spends most of her time limping around her enclosure and glaring at the other animals and visitors. I totally respect that.
To be expected on a pretty Saturday afternoon, we weren't alone at the zoo. A boisterous crowd of youths were shouting, laughing, and generally disturbing the peace of the late afternoon at the zoo. There were also several zoo workers having a conversation as they began the process of closing the park for the day.
Zookeeper 1: "Individually, they are probably passive and easy to work with. But let them get together and they're just like any other pack. They'll follow the alpha and make a lot of noise marking their territory."
Zookeeper 2: "That just makes them typical teenagers."
Somewhere behind me, Amazon shook her cane in the air at those damn kids on her lawn.