Life Lessons Learned at the Zoo

Life at the Zoo

A rare reprieve of relentless Arizona summer temperatures provided a great day to visit The Phoenix Zoo.  Walking through all the exhibits inspired me to think about life lessons you can learn at the zoo.

First, I learned my brilliant idea of mixing with animals is not unique. Every year 175 million people visit 224 accredited zoos and aquariums in the United States, according to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA).

Second, getting close to elephants, sharks and wolves has an important financial impact.  The AZA reported in 2011 that zoos and aquariums contributed $16 billion to the US economy and employed more than 142,000 people.

Further observations and life lessons from my day at the zoo:

  • Diversity Exists at the Zoo – Hundreds of species existing together – lions and tigers, oh my!  From reptiles to some of the largest mammals that roam our planet, the zoo is truly diverse.  We are able to see a harmonious place where differences are appreciated and celebrated.  We seek out and marvel at all the distinct unlikeness between varieties of snakes, birds, monkeys and bears.  It is also worth noting that there is great diversity in the people that visit the zoo, all together and at the same time. Travelers from all over the world, all cultures and ethnicity enjoy visiting the zoo — a true melting pot.
  • Community Matters at the Zoo – Most zoos survive with a community of volunteers and public and private donations.  Zoos need communities to promote and participate in supporting the upkeep and daily maintenance.  It is expensive to entertain and educate us.  Zoos need all of us as much as we need them.  Make it a priority to visit your local zoo at least one time a year, better yet become a zoo member!
  • Visiting the Zoo is Healthy – It is outdoors and requires you to get moving!  Most zoos require you to walk great distances to see all the exhibits. Zoos definitely beat out a walk inside the mall and will probably save you money.  As fact, in 2009 a Animal Science Journal study reported zoo visitors had a drop in blood pressure when they left the zoo and felt they had an improved quality of life.
  • The Zoo is Ageless – As marketers and business leaders continually look for ways to segment their target audience, the zoo appeals to all ages!  From babies to seniors, the zoo brings smiles to the young and young at heart.  Families, teens, dating couples, grand parents and small children wander the paths together.  Screaming and crying is expected and crowds draw more people to get a glimpse.  There are no limits at the zoo.
  • Curiosity can Conquer Fear – Imagine starring a tiger in the eye or feeding a sting ray.  Only at the zoo can we conquer our fears so easily.  We can watch the spiders and snakes up close and glare at the wolves as they roam a few feet in front of us.  The zoo allows us to use our curiosity as a way to overcome the fear of the unknown.  Children (and adults) can ride a camel and shake hands with a tree monkey.  Interaction creates an opportunity to learn.  The more we know, the less we fear.

Zebras at the Zoo

As you think about a way to support your local community, go for a long walk and tap into your adventurous side to explore the unknown, I suggest there is no better place to do it all than the zoo!

“We all have a fear of the unknown what one does with that fear will make all the difference in the world.” – Lillian Russell

Grandma and Her Collections

Cable Car Turntable, San Francisco, California

Grandma Elbertine, who we called “Bertie”, was a fine collector of ordinary things. From clothes to matchbooks, she had boxes and closets full of eras gone by. Each collection gave a different “window to the world” and also showed off a bit of her creativity and sense of nostalgia.

Her bedroom bureaus were full of jewelry sets and her closets stuffed with matching shoes, purses and hats. Everything she wore was completely coordinated, another personal charm.  Growing up I spent many hours looking at her precious fashion collections, some of which dated back to the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s. She loved to unpack small treasures put away for special occasions.  I would try things on under her careful watch.  I even dared to ask to borrow a fur collar or pillbox hat for a special night out with the strict requirement to return it the next week.  I quickly learned her accessories were a big standout at the discotheque in the late 70’s.

She was her own fashionista and she is still my vintage idol. Beyond her fashions, she had huge collections of middle-America stuff like colored glassware, silver spoons, wall plates, dolls, lace and even buttons. She kept magazines for decades, old toys and drawers of Avon lipstick and perfume samples.  She was a collection pro!

I loved Grandma’s sense of rich style, all which she acquired on department store wages and a little allowance from Grandpa.  From the time when I was a teenager, I have nestled inside me the love for things that remind me of her, from cat eye glasses to broaches.  My soul is stuck in generations past, most of which I only lived through Grandma Bertie and her collectibles.

After she passed, I was given a few of her collectibles by my mom.  I cherish them all.  One of the many Grandma Bertie collections was postcards that spanned travels and vacations across many decades.  They provide another view of the world she experienced. I thought I would share a small sample of them.  It was hard to choose from the hundred postcards I have in a sitting in glass bowl.  Here are a few I thought I would share today.

Postmarked from McClellan AFB, CA October 7 1968 from Lilly & Aunt Lola

Titled: A Little Apache Papoose and His Grandma

Signed from Mother on February 2, 1959

The Beautiful Moana Hotel on the Beach at Waikiki - 50's

Seal Rocks, San Francisco, California, the Cliff House

Chittenden Bridge and Mt. Washburn, Yellowstone National Park - Copyright 1935 by Haynes

Liberace Performing at the Nugget in Reno 1967

Postcard Sent October 4 1967 with 4 cent stamp.