Monday, January 26, 2009
You Find What You're Looking For
We've been reading this book lately which features a baby tapir so this weekend we decided to go to the zoo and see real live tapirs. Will also wanted to visit the gorillas as he'd been reading a book about them as well. Kevin drove and he took the route which leads you up Park Blvd alongside Balboa Park - thus driving by the playground, "Kid City" (the Ruben H Fleet Science Museum) and "the Dino Museum" (SD Natural History Museum). Of course that meant that Will started asking to go to those places. We agreed that if he had good behavior at the zoo that after we saw the tapirs and the gorillas we could go to the "Dino Museum".
Turns out that there are two sets of tapirs at the zoo - Central American tapirs, housed on Elephant Mesa, and Malayan tapirs, housed along Tiger River. Either way, they are blobby, pig like creatures that don't do much, even in the cool weather we had last Saturday. In other words, the real live tapirs were a bust, nothing like the bopping to the beat of the jungle's song tapir of our book. The gorillas were great though - we got to see the male silverback strut his stuff and the baby, born early this fall. We also got to see the now adolescent tiger cubs in action and even heard them growling at one another and jostling over food.
After we left the zoo Will, of course, remembered our promise that he could go to the Dino Museum if he'd had good behavior. He reminded us of this so of course we had to agree. Since it was already later than we'd planned, we agreed that he could go to the Dino Museum quickly and say hello to his friends the dinosaur fossils and then we had to go home.
Once inside the museum Will quickly visited his friends "Fossy" (the Allosaurus skeleton or fossil - hence "Fossy"), "Meggy" the Megalodon, the tiger (and the lizard that lives inside the tiger's lair), "Albert" the Albertosaurus "cousin" to T-Rex, "Perry" (the Lambeosaurus that is part of the Hadrosaur family, which Parasaurolophus is also a part of, hence "Perry" for Parasaurolophus), "Ketzy" the flying reptile (I won't even try to spell the real name of this dinosaur), "Anky" the Ankylosaur and the "raptor who died and the mice are eating him" (I guess since he's the only "dead" one he doesn't get a name).
Then, in an effort to prolong the visit, Will went into this forested area of the museum which has mainly replica reptiles and rodents that also lived in the Jurassic period. I followed him in there in an effort to shoo him out and guess what we found? Tapirs! Small tapirs the size of rabbits up to large ones, the size of hippos (well, those were really tapir-like cousins but still). There was even a tapir statue that Will could ride. If you follow the link below you can see pictures of this area. In the first picture you can see the tapirs - they are white beccause the picture shows the exhibit being installed so the animals haven't yet been painted to look authentic.
Tapirs at the Dino Museum, who knew? We'd gone in search of them at the zoo but found them at the Dino Museum. I read the signage at the museum which told me that tapirs have been around since the age of dinosaurs and, as their bodies/lifestyle has not changed significantly in over fifty million years (!!!), scientists sometimes refer to them as "living fossils". We went to see the dinosaur fossils but found tapirs instead. We've been to the Dino Museum probably fifteen times and we always go through that section (though we rarely linger there) and I've never noticed that there were tapirs before Saturday.
I think that there's something to be learned from this, and it's not just that tapirs have been around for over fifty million years. Will calls the SD Natural History Museum the "Dino Museum" because Will loves dinosaurs. When he goes to that museum what he sees, what he focuses on, are the dinosaurs. When you're shopping for a new car you suddenly start seeing tons of the kind of car you're hoping to buy. Get pregnant? Suddenly there are pregnant women everywhere!
In life, like the Dino Museum, you find what you're looking for.