Today was our big field trip to the zoo. I’m torn about the zoo trip every year. I am sad that humans have traditionally put animals on display, at a sacrifice to their well being. On the other hand I know that the zoo helps in some ways with endangered species and injured animals. Also, many students won’t have the opportunity to see animals up close otherwise, and they love it.
This year we had more parents want to join us than we have ever had before. We had 23 adults for 45 students, and almost everyone fit on the bus! We had to turn away five more parents who wanted to come but wouldn’t fit.
Our bus ride was remarkable. The bus driver had long white hair and sunglasses, and reminded me of Grateful Dead groupies. He announced that we could have an extra half hour there because he didn’t have to back for anything after us today. As soon as we were on the road, he turned on rock music. The boys I was near shouted and turned on their air guitars. School buses never play music. He also drove like he was racing a sports car. We went flying around curves, passed all the other buses on the road and he didn’t care how loud we were. Every bump sent us flying. One little boy looked at me wide-eyed and grabbed my hand from across the aisle. When we got to the zoo, I got a text from one of the families who were attempting to follow the bus in their car, saying they were pulled over by the cops for driving in the bus lane. Luckily, the cop let them off with a warning and they made it before our group entered.
We had unusually sunny weather and since there were so many adults I walked around taking pictures with my co-teacher and hanging out with groups when we ran into them. I finally got to see the wolves and bears, which are at the far north end of the zoo. The grey wolves were wrestling and playing and licking each other, and reminded me of my old white German Shepherd who passed away a few years ago. Two eagles chased each other around their enclosure, yapping in apparent argument. I heard later from one of the moms that the new baby gorilla tapped on the window and used gestures to get one of the visitors to pull a book out of her purse and read it, page by page. We dodged poop in the many aviaries.
Groups returned on time, exhausted and happy and bubbling with talk. We took a bunch of group photos, with the kids acting like different animals. Before I could get to my seat to go home on the bus later, the bus took off. Our crazy bus driver got us back to school and everyone relaxed. Awe for life surfaced over and over today.