May 29, 2012

Lorikeets at Micke Grove Zoo

There are things Alice says and does that are instantly recognizable. That are familiar as skin.

“Oh,” I think, “She gets that from me.” Or, “Right now,” I tell her. “You look just like your dad.”
And, yet again, there are times she reminds me that she is not a copy, not an echo. She is someone new, completely.

Since she has been old enough to notice them, for example, Alice has been drawn to animals in a way that I cannot entirely comprehend.

Now. I like animals. Quite a bit, sometimes. I have had pets, and I have loved them. I have observed animals outdoors, in their own animal spaces, and I have been fascinated.
But I have never had an affinity for animals the way my daughter seems to.

She was 8- or so months-old the first time I took her to Micke Grove Zoo. Even then, she wasn’t content to watch the animals from her stroller – she wanted me to lift her up, as close to the enclosures as we could get. She pointed and laughed and clapped.
(It’s a modest zoo. There’s a lot Micke Grove doesn’t have, but Alice is too young to see that. In a way, the size and scale are perfect for a 2-year-old).
Still, I worried the lorikeet exhibit (it’s open now through Sept. 3) might be too much for her – too loud, too messy, too close.

I was wrong.

Lorikeets are medium-sized parrots with tongues specially shaped for eating nectar and soft fruits. They are social and spirited. Micke Grove is hosting more than 50 of them in walk-through aviary that allows the kind of hands-on interaction that usually isn’t possible with zoo animals. Entry into the exhibit is included with the price of admission ($4 for adults, $2 for kids ages 3 to 17. Kids 2 and younger are free. Parking is $5). A cup of nectar to feed the birds costs an additional $1.
Every time a lorikeet drank from Alice’s cup, she squealed with that high-pitched, super-concentrated joy you really only hear out of toddlers. It was the best.

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