I’ve been going to the Toronto Zoo since I was too small to walk; there are pictures of me in a stroller next to animals that are still flapping, swinging, and lumbering around there today. I love animals, I love being near them, and I promised myself that I would make sure that my children would have the chance to see as many of them as I could find.
For right now, that means multiple trips to the local zoo. Abby really seems to “get” animals now (she calls them “bobos” and hoots like an excited chimp when she sees them). And today she was in for a treat.
If you’ve ever been to the Toronto Zoo, you know that they don’t like Canadian animals. If they did, they wouldn’t put them at the bottom of the biggest hill this side of the Rockies. And they wouldn’t post sign all along the way there, warning you that the hill is huge, that there is no other way up once you go down it, and that the elderly, weak, crippled, or out of shape will surely perish in its shadow.
Admittedly, once you get down there, you realize that it isn’t the most exciting place to be. There is a raccoon exhibit, a grizzly bear or two, and a vast, overgrown field that claims to contain wolves. I say “claims” because I don’t know anyone that has ever actually seen them. For all I know the field is actually the overflow chipmunk exhibit. Wolves are so damn good at not being seen that they may as well be living in a bunker for all you can see of them.
Today, at the Brantford Twin Valley Zoo, Abby and were looking at a rather lazy bobcat when we heard the sound of running animals behind us. I turned around to see a pair of gray wolves running after three alpacas in the enclosure behind us.
My first thought was, “Holy crap! Those stupid alpacas jumped into the wolf enclosure somehow!”
My second thought was, “This is going to be awesome!”
My third thought was, “Abby’s never seen a wolf take down an animal before!”
And my fourth thought was, “I better get her in close enough to see them bite through the alpaca’s hamstrings!”
We ran over, only to find out that the alpacas had not in fact gotten into the wolf enclosure. They had clearly been moved over from their normal field to one adjacent to the wolves, and the wolves had just then taken an interest in them. The single wire fence between the two groups of animals seemed a tad mean to me, but it did make for a great five minutes of watching angry wolves rushing up and down the length of the fence, looking for an opening so they could chase down a meal or two.
As Abby and I walked along the edge of the field, the wolves decided that they would track the two of us for a bit instead. I forgot how big wolves really are. At twenty or thirty feet, they look downright huge. And when they look at you after just having lost out on alpaca steak, they are bloody terrifying.