22-Feb-2015

How to feed a giraffe


“Where are you guys?” I asked D over the phone.

“In the Wild Africa section”. D replied

Bobo, his grandparents and we were on a jaunt to the zoo. Post-lunch Bobo had shown no signs of being tired and insisted on seeing a few more animals. The rest had dragged their weary feet to Wild Africa while I had made a stop at the ladies.

“Where exactly?” I queried

“Hmm. We are at the Hippo section but we will head over to the Giraffe section soon. There is a feeding session at 1.50 p.m. We just missed the Hippo feeding by two people” D caught me up on the latest on-goings in the zoo.

I had not known about the existence of feeding sessions in zoos till Bobo was born but now they seemed to be important events around which our schedules were planned.

I agreed to meet them at the Giraffe feeding, checked that I still had fifteen minutes to find my way and set off. Except, I got lost and by the time I reached Wild Africa, it was already 1.45 p.m. 

There was a long line outside the Giraffe enclosure and I could only see the tail end. I raced to the head of the line to catch up with D and Bobo, casting a glance at the people at the end of the queue. “Poor blokes” I told myself “these guys are bound to miss the giraffe feeding. I wonder why they even bother to wait”.

Suddenly from behind I heard D yelling “Mummy is here! She will stand in the queue”.

What??!!

It turned out that D and Bobo had just finished watching the lions being fed and were not in the queue at all, head or tail.

A thousand questions ran through my head begging to be answered, the most pertinent of which seemed to be “why did you guys stand in the line sooner knowing how you missed the Hippo feeding already?”

There was no time to waste however, and I meekly took my line at the end of queue. The line snaked so much that I could not even see the giraffes and had to merely take D’s words that I was in the right queue.

“Wow! That is a long queue”, D remarked “Hang in there Mummy. We will walk around a bit and come back”. Before I could begin the third-degree interrogation on poor-planning, D and Bobo were off.

Time passed really slowly. I could only watch with satisfaction as more people joined behind me. D and Bobo visited me occasionally in between their visits to the animals and gave me news snippets. I found out the grandparents had plonked themselves somewhere, being too tired to move. The giraffe feeding had apparently started but that did not result in any progress in my position in the line.

Suddenly there seemed to be some movement and I could glimpse the head of the line. D came by to tell me that it was touch-and-go and I should hang in there. I felt like smacking him but let it go.

Finally I was just two people behind and I could see that there were enough food trays still left for us to have a turn at the feeding-session.  We organised ourselves in preparation. D, Bobo and I would do the actual feeding while the granddad took the photo. Grandma stayed put in her place, looking tired.

Excitement mounted as our turn came. We were handed a small tray with a few pieces of potatoes and carrots.

D handled the part of making a token donation for the food tray.

I held Bobo on one hand and a food tray in the other hand.

Grand-dad positioned himself for the best photo angle.

The two giraffes stood eagerly with their mouths open and licked their lips with their giant tongues.

Giant giant tongues. Huge and long tongues with tons of drool coming out. I was going to have to feed this creature with its huge tongue…

In a moment of panic, I held out the tray to one of the giraffes. Partly I did not want the tongue to touch my hand. Partly I was being a lovely hostess, holding up the food tray rather than doling out food in portions.

Unfortunately the giraffe was not a perfect guest and in one quick motion, gulped down almost all the food on the food tray.

At this point, D appeared and pulled me back. One carrot remained. I meekly gave it to Bobo, who bravely held it out to the giraffe. The greedy giraffe smirked at me and then gently took the carrot from Bobo. The other giraffe merely nodded its disappointed head at having gotten no food.

It was D’s turn now to be annoyed. Instead of holding out one vegetable at a time and stretching out the experience for Bobo, we were done in less than five seconds.

I tried telling D that I had moral superiority here, having done all the waiting. Besides, Bobo did get a turn and most importantly, we had it on record.

At which point I heard the granddad say “Ok the camera is ready. Go for it!”

He had missed the entire action while trying to figure out the buttons on the camera.

All of us walked quietly to the next enclosure, when Bobo broke the silence

‘I want to feed the giraffe some more’