Well, today was a great b-day. It started with Mark's giving me Due South seasons 1, 2, and 3 on DVD. Then we went to the Philadelphia Zoo, which we're members of. I got to see the Zoo's two meerkats. (See: all my posts about Meerkat Manor to know why I dote on these little fuzzballs.) Darn, but they're cute! As well as alert, and bright, and responsive to the human voice. Any time I looked at one of them to tell her how adorable she was, the meerkat in question would stand up and look directly at me, with keen interest. I even saw them hunt, such as it was. I'm not sure if the black beetle that suddenly broke cover and scooted through the exhibit was something that was Provided For Their Enrichment, as the Zoo frequently puts food items around the enclosures of animals that normally forage for food all day in the wild. Then they can spend their day searching the enclosure for bits of food, which keeps them alert and active and staves off boredom. Anyway, this beetle could have been placed into the enclosure by keepers, or it could have come in from outside, as the building's exit was only a few yards away. But in either case, meerkats are insectivores and they quickly made the beetle into an ex-beetle. Or at least one of them did. The one that arrived a moment sooner and actually caught it made little rasping growly noises at her companion, who was trying to nose in and maybe mooch the snack for herself. I was amused, as it's a vocalization that's heard on a regular basis on Meerkat Manor. In this context, it didn't seem especially hostile. It seemed to be more along the lines of, "Go 'way. This bug's mine."
We also got to see them interact with their keeper, at which point I found out WHY they're so willing to give their undivided attention to talking humans. The daily schedule said "Meerkat Training", and it turns out that it was a session lasting a few minutes that ensures that the meerkats are willing to go into and out of pet carriers on command. The keeper kept on instructing them "In" and "Out", and providing them with little treats for executing the commands properly. She also closed the doors to the carriers and handled the carriers a bit (picking up, turning around, etc), providing treats all the while. The meerkats were loving all this. Note to self: if you want to make a meerkat your friend for life, give it snacks. When the training was done, they kept looking at the keeper with expectant faces, as if to say, "That's not ALL, is it? Surely there's more?"
From the keeper, I found out that these two meerkats are both female, and that they're 8 years old. It's probably just as well that they're not a breeding pair... if the Zoo had a pair of meerkats as prolific as the late, great Flower of the Whiskers mob, the Zoo would have wall-to-wall meerkats in no time flat. I didn't ask their names, as I've noticed a reluctance at the Zoo to tell guests the animals' names in the past. That's because the animals' names are normally only used as part of a command, and they don't want the animals getting desensitized to the sound of their names by having guests calling it out morning, noon, and night.
Anyway, just seeing the meerkats would have made my day all by itself. But there was more. In no particular order, other fascinating critters included the pygmy marmoset (talk about a creature that's too cute to be legal), golden lion tamarind, gorillas, orangutans, all the various big cats including the mama tiger and her three 6-month-old cubs, our remaining three elephants (which I thought were going to Pittsburgh in October -- I guess Pittsburgh's zoo wasn't ready for them yet), and the red panda (another case of cuteness beyond what's legally allowed).
OK, so we got to see tons of fuzz and stripeyness and spots and cuteness all day long. Were we done? Not even close. Our next stop was at Dave and Buster's, where there was an appearance of Flyers alumni Bernie Parent (my childhood idol) and Bob Kelly, in conjunction with the telecast of a Flyers road game. So Mark and I had dinner at Dave and Buster's, met, spoke with and took a picture with Bernie Parent and Bob Kelly, and won a Flyers trivia contest with 25 questions out of 30 right. :o) The prize? Flyers tickets for this coming Monday. How cool is that?
Now, had the Flyers WON tonight, it would have been a perfect day. Unfortunately, no such luck. But we can just use it as fodder to avenge the loss the next time we see the Devils.
So, after a day of fuzz, cuteness, food, Hall of Fame goalies, and winning hockey tickets, I'm ready to turn in. I'm exhausted. But it's a GOOD exhausted. :o)