Friday, January 2, 2009

A Flamingo Encounter

So earlier this week we visited the Sarasota Jungle Gardens, a small attraction with a few nature walks, birds, alligators, and assorted other animals. It's a nice place, good for a day trip at a reasonable cost, considering how much the bigger parks charge for admission. One of the most interesting features of this park/conservatory is that they have a number of free roaming animals, such as pelicans, ducks, turtles and flamingos. What surprised me is how unbelievably TAME these animals are. This picture is a good example of what I mean:

On the left is my 2 year old son. He was just straightening up from feeding the ducks (note the two ducks at the bottom of the picture), when I said (from behind the camera), "Look out, there's a big bird above your head!" Because while he was squatting down to take care of the ducks, the flamingo on the right had wandered over and was literally standing over him to see what he was up to. There was a moment when I was certain these two would knock heads... and then I managed to snap this shot, even while trembling at the thought that such a large bird, with such a large beak, was standing mere inches from my beloved child.

Now my son isn't prone to panic. He takes after both me and my husband in that he analyzes the situation, then comes to his conclusion based on the evidence and his own logical thought process. I can only imagine what must have been going through his head at this point: i.e. there's an enormous bird standing right in front of me, how fast can I run, will my dad protect me from that gigantic scary beak, what will this pink monster do when it discovers I've just run out of food, I've never seen a bird bigger than me and I'm feeling a little freaked out right now.

In a matter of seconds he came to his own conclusion and quickly but quietly moved away. In the next shot, which I'm not allowed to post because it shows my husband's face (he's a little paranoid about sharing pictures on the Internet), my son is standing safely BEHIND his dad, scanning the area for any big birds that might be approaching from the other direction. I have to say, smart kid.

I had an encounter of my own with a flamingo that day: as I took a few steps back to take the first shot posted here, I bumped into a flamingo that was standing right behind me. Lucky for me he just grunted his objection and didn't use his own gigantic scary beak on me. So I turned in place and took his picture, and I'm posting it here with my thanks to him for leaving my backside intact:

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