I'm in Nashville visiting my friend Julie who works in the education department at Nashville Zoo. She gives lots of behind the scenes tours and knows lots of the keepers in various areas. Julie took me behind the scenes at the anteater and giraffe barns yesterday. Anteaters are probably my favorite zoo animals. They are so weird-looking and cool... I got to touch one in St. Louis last year but this experience was INCREDIBLE!!! Nashville zoo has around a dozen anteaters in one large barn with indoor/outdoor access for all of the animals. The anteaters currently don't have a public display so the only way they are seen is on a behind the scenes tour. I got a personal tour. I got up close to all the anteaters, including a mother with a baby. I fed one an avocado and another some yogurt. We spent a looong time in the building and I can't even describe how much fun I had!
THEN, we went to the giraffe barn. I got to see all the indoor enclosures, the restraining device and the scaling system. The keepers told me about their training methods and then took me outside to show me the chute the giraffes walk through daily to their exhibit yard. We walked up onto a hill and the giraffes came right up to us, sniffing our shoes and allowing us to pet them. The male licked my hand :) Amazing animals!
We toured the rest of the zoo and ended with a tour of the education building and all the amazing education animals used for programs and shows. It was a very fun experience, though I did feel a bit guilty for making Julie go to work on her day off.
I then went with Julie and her friend Celeste to a children's birthday party. Celeste takes miniature farm animals and does a short show before giving rides on her miniature horse. It was pretty cool. The kids all loved the goat, rabbit and chicken and then really loved the horse ride. I took some pictures for Celeste and otherwise tried to keep an eye on the animals while she and Julie were giving horse rides. I certainly didn't think my vacation would include a child's birthday party, but it was fun.
Today we're going to a lake and then tomorrow I plan to go to Memphis to go to their zoo. Woohoooo!!!