I am very pleased and excited to report that I have been invited back to the Cincinnati Zoo once again. I’m not sure the word “invitation” is exactly the right word. Perhaps “ordered” back to the Zoo is more accurate. Steve Malowski, the “Lead Cheese” at the Bird House, was kind enough to inform me that Zoo Keepers who work there are asking when I am returning. So he emailed me and basically told me that I was coming back and he needed some dates. He said he had my lodging handled and all I needed was to show up. I was worried because I didn’t know if Dave, “The Major Dude” knew if I was returning. (See the post: “The Major Dude”, to meet Dave Oehler). Well…Okay, twist my arm! So I was thrilled to be ordered back and of course I am already mentally packing, and trying to remember what I brought and did not use, and what I was short on. I plan on bringing my own kitchen knife and a sharpener, because if I recall, the knives in the birdhouse kitchen were pretty dismal. Perhaps very sharp gifts are in order.

Steve Sharing his Lunch With Henry, a Major Mitchell's Cockatoo
Steve Sharing his Lunch With Henry, a Major Mitchell's Cockatoo

I’m going to need more parachute nylon pants because my “traveling Zoo” pants kindly provided by my friend Jennifer were the only thing that really totally worked. Those pants were perfect! Made by “American Sportsman”, I’m sure they can be found at Sam’s Bass Pro Store. I want a couple more pairs of those. They were perfect for Zoo work. I have Robin Shewokis of “The Leather Elves” to thank for her guidance and advice on my clothing choices for working in the Bird House.

I have a better handle on what works well for bringing to lunch, and what to do for dinner, so going to Kroger’s won’t be so harrowing. (I’ll have you know I eat a lot and good food is very important to me.) I went there the first time before I had even seen the zoo, so I had no idea what the set up was at the intern house or what was going to work. I don’t have a car while I am there. I really don’t need one as the Intern House is right across the street from the Zoo.

My view of the Zoo. That's my pillow and alarm clock. Close enough?
My view of the Zoo. That's my pillow and alarm clock. Close enough?

I am really excited to be returning. I know what is expected. I’m trained now, and I can return to artfully clean the “Australasian” Exhibit; also known as “My own private Vietnam”.  This exhibit houses Rhinoceros Hornbills, fruit bats, and one of my favorite characters at the zoo. “Patricia” the Pesque’s Parrot. It’s a wonderful exhibit, one of my favorites and I can’t wait to wield a hose to shower it down and sing to the fruit bats to keep them from slugging each other in the face.

Of course I’ll be thrilled to look after the penguins again. I just love those little guys. I’ll be able to do my annual, “cleaning of the little penguin indoor enclosure”.

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I’m hoping to be able to make it around to more houses. I’d like to do a day at the elephant house with Val Nastold and learn exactly how much 4 elephants can poop in a day.

Val, Elephant Keeper, Keeper of his "Tall Blondes" (the Giraffes) and All-Around Cool Guy
Val, Elephant Keeper, Keeper of his “Tall Blondes” (the Giraffes) and All-Around Cool Guy

I want more experience with the birds, and I would very much like to wash an elephant. I’ve never washed an elephant before, although I must say that it gives new meaning to the expression, “washing behind the ears”.  I’d like to get some experience with the Bonobos, even though Kim in the Bird House worked with them and said they were absolutely disgusting. As I used to say when I was working at a garden center in Queens N.Y. and people would ask me which was better for their garden, cow manure or sheep manure, I would tell them, “I guess it’s a matter of taste”.  And I promise to do something I couldn’t do the last time I was there: cut up frozen rats and mice for the Raptors.

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I  love the smell of mackerel in the morning… smells like…(sniff,sniff)… my hair.

I look forward to it all… all over again! It’s hot, cold, wet, dirty, loud, smelly, and exhausting. I’m so tired when I get back to the Intern House I’m ready to die and I cannot describe how nasty I get.  I washed those pants by taking them into the shower with me, and then, when they would air-dry for the morning, I would sit on my bed and write about my day. It’s draining, exciting, emotionally wrenching and  exhausting. It’s also one of my most favorite places in the world.  And I can’t wait.

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