The Oregon Zoo is one of my favorite places in Portland. I’ve been there a few times with friends and their kids, plus it was my first date with Boyfriend. So when he and I both had the same day off in months, I knew exactly where to go.
With Covid-19, the zoo, like everywhere else, is a bit different. Tickets are limited to just 120 every 30 minutes, to help spread out people. And there is just a one way route using arrows, signs, and punny stickers on the ground. A few exhibits were closed, due to confined spaces, plus there are areas that were under construction before the pandemic hit. We kept our masks on throughout the visit, except for a snack in the elephant area. The fresh grilled chicken was just perfect with the cheese quesadilla.
Most of the other guests had kids and everyone in sight was wearing masks. It was a community of strangers all trying to do our best to keep safe and have a little fun. We went in with the first group of the day, so it was breakfast time for many of the animals. Three black bears were coming out of their cave just as we crossed into their area. And the giraffes were all munching away in different corners of the enclosure. I would definitely aim for this early time again to see the creatures as they are starting their days.
Despite the closures and rules, we got to see our favorite spots. The sea otters (my favorite) were tussling in the water. Boyfriend and a tiger (his favorite) stared at one another through the plexiglass, then both investigated water rushing from a corner together. Thanks to less visitors, I got to see the dwarf mongooses closer than ever before. They are freaking adorable!!!
The visit was not the same as ones in the past, and I hope will be different from ones in the future. It was the zoo of Covid-19; a snapshot of how we are all trying to be safe and be kind.
“We are the spark, that will light the fire that’ll burn the First Order down” (Poe Dameron, Star Wars: The Last Jedi). – #52sparks is my year-long writing series for 2020, based on an art prompt challenge. The spark that lights a fire to toast a marshmallow or to ravage a forest begins in the space of an inch. This series is to explore what hundreds of inches and words can do.