It happened on a Monday morning,at first,after visiting my daughter and them,in East London South Africa.
We got up with my children,as they had to go to work and my grandchildren,off to school.After our goodbyes,we hit the road(about 300km)back home.As we were about to leave East London,we decided to keep a promise,we made to ourselves,so many times before,when going to visit.Each time we promised,that we’ll visit the next time,as we were already late,or were too tired and just wanted to get back home.
This time was different.All of the grown ups had to work and all the children had to go to crèche(daycare)or school.It meant,that we didn’t stay up too late and took it easy,on the(as our family jokingly like to call it“proviant”)drinks.
We drove through the gate,parked under a big old tree,for enough shade.We walked the the few yards,to steps leading up,to the counter at the entrance,passing a vèry talkative,cheeky parrot.
“The East London(SA)Zoo” was opened during the 1930’s.For many years “The Pretoria Zoo” came first,in competition with the “Bloemfontein Zoo” and East London Zoo”What I liked about the East London Zoo,is that they sold different “snacks” to feed sòme of the animals.They use the income on that,to replace the sold snacks and to donate,towards the keeping of the Zoo.You can buy peanuts,to feed quite a few animals.The other foods, were a bit too expensive for us,as the entrance fee,was a bit too steep and the kiosk,also priced their(take out)food,a little higher,than expected.
The path layout,is not as complicated,as with the 2 other Zoo’s,we’ve been to.All different routes,meet up right back at kiosk.Armed with our peanuts,we started our,towards the big cats first.Then,we went by the other animals and it was already,just after lunch.We ended up,like I mentioned,back at the kiosk and bought some hotdogs and colddrinks(soda)and then took the last path,which is our favorite,to visit in Zoo’s or other animal parks,equally to the big cats…The PRIMATES!.. Apes,Baboons,Chimps,Gorillas,Lemurs,ect.We were amazed,by the good condition,the primates were in and also how clean and safe,the cages were.(*see last part)There were some monkeys,who followed everyone around the cage,that fed them.We spent some time,at a cage of a very small monkeys,but couldn’t get close enough,to feed them. There weren’t any signs,like at some other cages,that warned against feeding.So I tried to throw some peanuts.As I let go of the first few,immediately knew it’s a miss.Imagine our surprise,when he vèry quickly,pushed his small hand through the fence and caught one.After a while,other people joined in.Those who saw us feeding,went to the kiosk,bought some peanuts and came back,just as we left.We were of,to the enclosure we especially held onto,as our last visit.We came up a long,steep ramp and suddenly,around the corner,was the primates we waited to see,for such a long time already…The gorillas!!!The male immediately chased his girl away and sat down,on a patch of grass.He clapped his hands and then held out one hand,begging.We threw some peanuts to him and after he tasted one,he was clearly nòt impressed,but ate a few more,here and there.He’d push his nail under the peanut,pick it up and eat…then I looked closely and just as I was about to warn hubby,as I ducked, not a moment too soon.He wasn’t digging his nail,in the ground for peanuts,as we thought.He dug out a flat stone,threw it at me and nearly hit my.As I got up,he was already looking,for another stone/small rock and when he went,for a piece of mountain rock,I ran around the corner,with my husband on my heals.
We told the whole family and friends about it,but you could see the head nodding “yes”but the rest of his body,not following the same gesture,or agreeing to something,totally the opposite.
Late in 2018,we decided to take our grandson with,because we wanted to,visit that gorilla again.He was standing,in the front of the enclosure,deep down,with a wide water canal and the piece of land,they roamed went down,with a slope.Next to my grandson,stood a boy about his age and length.I saw that gorilla,doing his”undercover” digging,I saw that familiar look,in his eyes…As I duck,I shouted at the mother,to get cover and pulled my grandson down with me,when the piece of rock bullroared over my head….
We told the family agàìn.This time we took my daughter,husband and 2 children with.We were at the lion cage/fenced in area,with 3 females and one male.(*)We stood there and watched them and jùst as we started to move on,the male charged to the fence and jumped against it.We were all petrified,because the fencing of the enclosure,didn’t look sturdy enough,to keep such a powerful animal inside, should thàt lion rèàlly decide,to escape.The other bad thing,was that the females will follow.My grandson(then 7)jumped up and gran’pa scooped him up and he wiggled,as if he was trying to guide a horse, to let his gran’pa move away.Then he shoutedShoot him oupa,I ask you,to plèàse take your gun and shoot him!!Plèàse kill him,with your gun“the gun,meaning a 9 millimeter CZ 75!!Well,we quickly moved on!!
After a few more stops,we evèntually ended up,at the enclosure,where we were rèàlly wanted to be…
It wàs the 3rd time around, in a very short period of time…So,I looked at his Royalship and he looked back at me.He took a while,before he begged.By that time,my son-in-law was bored already.He grew up in East London and stayed there,until today.His parents took out a yearly family pass,which meant,a lòt of visits to the Zoo.He strolled across the footpath, to the other side,to show the flamingos,ducks,geese and other water-birds,to his baby girl.It was exactly thèn,that Royalship dug in the ground,with his finger…I ducked and pulled my grandson down(agàìn)and he sent that rock,with a zing over my head,missing my husband,jùst and then,the rock rolled over,the side of the pond,into the water.
Because he didn’t throw the rock immediately,when I fed him,òr for the time,I’ve been there….It confirms my suspicion,that it wasn’t how I looked,or what I fed him,it was simply because he couldn’t stand my voice!!!
Come to think of it…..my poor husband of nearly 24 years!!!