Saturday, September 11, 2010
Back from Brookfield
We recently returned from a nice visit to the Brookfield Zoo with Casey, Georgia and the Norths yesterday while we played Berwyn Illinois, one of our many Chicago towns in this several week period. My friend Susan was kind enough to give us a tour of the now closed-for-renovation Pachyderm building, where the infamous Ziggy was kept for decades chained in his stall after he "downed and browned" his keeper Slim Lewis. After pressure from the city's people, Slim returned thirty years later to release Ziggy to the yard amongst great fanfare and celebration.
Currently the zoo has one African elephant, Joyce.
It was very interesting to visit the zoo with our show's owner and his wife. During our passes by the various exhibits, Mr. North recounted many tales of the his experiences on his family shows, including stories of the animals the Ringling show exhibited. For example, the one of the first Okapi imported to North America was by John Ringling North, though they were not allowed to exhibit it on the road due to USDA restrictions. The first was imported to the Bronx Zoo in 1937. The first birth in North America was at the Brookfield Zoo in 1959, and until the early nineties the population stayed below two dozen. A breeding boom has expanded their North American numbers to nearly two hundred in over twenty different zoos.
The highlight of every one's zoo trip was feeding two of the zoo's rhinos. During the backstage tour that Susan gave us, a bucket of treats was quickly gone as we all enjoyed the "up close and personal" visit. Georgia was disappointed to leave but Casey reminded her to ask all the other kids at the zoo how many of them were able to feed the rhinos.