There are lots of animals to look at in even the smallest zoos; the bigger the zoo, usually the more variety there is. But, I think, for most children and adults almost is more riveting than the monkeys and apes.
They're not today's only creature feature, but they're top of the list.
Perhaps it's because we see more of ourselves in them than in other animals—although there are so many of them, like these colobus monkeys above, or the Schmidt's red-tailed monkey below that resemble us far less than the gorillas and chimps.
Those, perhaps closest to us in other ways, are easy to see, in our minds, as responding to us and perhaps thinking that we are the specimens brought to them for examination rather than the other way around. I mean, how can you resist imagining human thoughts and emotions for this guy...and maybe it's not so much imagination.
On my visit to the San Diego Zoo, I didn't have a lot of interaction with gorillas or chimps, but there was plenty of opportunity to observe the rapid and often comic behavior of 'lesser' monkeys, especially those playing in groups.
These juveniles were having a seemingly carefree time with water, wood and ropes, chasing each other back and forth then coming together again.
Part of being who they are and learning skills as they grow up, just as our kids do on the playground. And like our kids, the adults are on hand keeping a close watch, and occasionally stepping in when things are going too far. Here they are, below.
From Ethiopia, the celadas, and below them a wistful fellow who just wants so badly to be on the other side of the fence.
So, you want to ask, "what's gnu?" Got no answers, though.
One of my favorites at the San Diego Zoo was Otis, a hippopotamus, who seemed to have everything figured out. A pleasant glass-walled pool in which to rest his chin and considerable bulk with a view of cute humans; a school of small fish to groom his considerable hide...
...and when the novelty of that wore out, plenty of room to wade (or swim, couldn't tell which) out into the pool and let out a good full-throated yawn. which sent the birds who had been serenely sailing by into an abrupt take-off.
And then a tiger. If I didn't know better, I would swear it was trying to make a call on a wall-mounted pay phone before giving up.
But seriously. Don't you ever wonder what they're saying about us? Perhaps they find it more fun than a barrel of people.