Australia 2012: Day 4 – It’s all happening at the zoo

Today we were treated as special guests at the zoo, thanks to arrangements Claire and Steve had made. Along with her friends Cathy and Robin, Claire picked me up from Manly ferry wharf this morning and we met her dad, Dorothy and her uncle Roberto and Kim at the zoo entrance. First stop was the giraffe exhibit, where keeper Natalie brought us in to help feed the lovely creatures. They softly scooped carrots from our hands with their tongues, straightened up and swallowed quickly, then leaned down for more.

Next stop was the elephant exhibit, where it was bath time. Steve and other keepers were bathing each elephant, one at a time, hosing them down thoroughly and brushing their feet and other parts, giving them lots  of attention and praise.

By noon we were at the bird show amphitheatre, overlooking Sydney harbour, where Claire presented the show, assisted by other keepers and lots of birds. Dozens of school children were entranced by the show and several had questions for Claire afterwards. She was very much at ease and confident, presenting the show with fresh enthusiasm.

After the show we stopped for a quick lunch, then headed to the exhibit for the 12-year-old male elephant, daddy to several of the youngsters we saw earlier. Here Steve and another keeper did what they call playtime, a behavioral enrichment exercise to keep the elephant stimulated and up to date with training moves. Stacking truck tires is pretty  impressive, but kicking a football out of the enclosure on request is awesome.

The whole day was a wonderful treat for all of us!

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