🐵 #AtoZChallenge: Z is for the zoo (5 whacky facts about them)


When we were kids, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo was the bomb.

Z2020It was quite a hike. The zoo is literally on a mountain. In Colorado Springs. But when you’re young and spry, it doesn’t matter. We might not have done all the cool things the white kids in our neighborhood did, but this one was awesome.

As a dad, I got to bring my girls to zoos, too. Riverbanks Zoo & Garden. Greenville (S.C.) Zoo. North Carolina Zoo. Knoxville Zoo. Man, those are some great memories.

Today, I’m wrapping up the A to Z Challenge with a limp – coming in with wacky facts I found about zoos. Hey, Q, X, and Z are the biggest challenges of the month!

close up photography of hyena
Photo by Frans Van Heerden on Pexels.com

1. It doesn’t work that way

Officials at the Murayama Zoo tried to play matchmaker for a pair of hyenas for 5 years. No babies. They finally realized they were both males. Fun fact: Hyenas aren’t dogs nor cats. They have their own group, called Hyaenidae.

2. Look out, Peg Bundy

Don’t roll into Chessington World of Adventures Zoo in your leopardskin jumper. Animals in the Zufari exhibit there tended to herd toward friendly patterns and flee from those of their predators. Bad news either way.

The zoo provided a grey jumpsuit to any patrons who didn’t heed the warning. (It makes me wonder what the elephants thought of that.)

Just a small detail on a pillow in the hippest Air Bnb I’ve ever stayed in. This place was radder than rad.

3. Maybe it’s because …

Elephants can recognize their own reflection. Often some cats and dogs think it’s another cat or dog in the mirror or water bowl and are ready to rumble. Higher primates can do this, as can … magpies.

(I swear our cat Toulouse stares at his reflection in his water bowl, though.)

amphibian animal close up color
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

4. Rest in peace, mate

Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, is buried at the Australia Zoo. My girls loved his adventures and larger-than-life personality. I used to imitate him, especially when venturing in to wake up one of the girls in the morning (they can be quite croc-like at that hour.)

5. Words in captivity

Remember the Dr. Seuss book If I Ran The Zoo? (Any parent can relate.) He quoted inhabitants as a Nerkle, a Nerd, and a Seersucker, too! This could be the first mention of a Nerd in literature.

Which would explain why I loved taking my girls to the zoo so much.

What about you? I know the zoo debate isn’t exactly free of controversy, but do you have any fun memories of your childhood from the zoo? Or taking your kids there?

Thank you for sticking with me through the A to Z Challenge!



A is for Ain’t Too Proud To Beg, Adam and Avril, and Amidala

B is for Bonnie Marie Williams, voiceover superhero, a #GirlsRock interview

C is for Conversations, Camdyn and cookies (#GratitudeAndShit) 

D is for Dorsey Standish, yoga teacher and mindfulness coach, for #GirlsRock

E is for End-of-your-career awards

F is for Frank, my uncle

G is for 💇🏽‍♂️ Go Ask Daddy about what you GET to keep on Flea Market Flip, if I’m GOING to sit in a racecar next time I get my hair cut, and how high basketball scores GO

H is for ✊🏻 haiku (my quarantine journal)

I is for being IN progress, IMMUNE system meditations and INSIGHT (for #GratitudeAndShit)

J is for Jess Cohn, an interview with a senior acquisitions editor, for #GirlsRock

K is for Kelly Calhoun, an interview with an influencer, reporter and model, for #GirlsRock

L is for learn

M is for middle finger, mercy rules, and mating (Go Ask Daddy)

N is for Nancy Kempa, realtor and translator, for #GirlsRock

🎡 O is for observing, opportunities, and optimism (#GratitudeAndShit)

P is for purify your mindset

Q is for quarterback

R is for Rebecca Reid, global development globetrotter, for #GirlsRock

S is for still alive, stolen things and (green) screen (#GoAskDaddy)

T is for teacher book review – Schooled, by Stephanie Jankowski

U is for unexpected fun, Uncle Frank, and understanding

V is for the various roles I play

W is for Carra Wheat, director of ticket operations for Charlotte Independence soccer (for #GirlsRock)

X is for 10 (my favorite players to wear that number)

🤟 Y is for what you would do to help your friends and family

Esar quote zoo


  1. I like the zoo. Some zoo’s. Circuses though (shudder)

    You did it, you reached the end congratulations!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Yes, some zoos feel better than others. And circuses are going by the wayside, right?

      So proud to have finished, thank you! I’m looking forward to catching up on others’ blogs, including yours!

  2. Five zany facts I did not know. Well done Eli, and congrats on a challenge well played. While I don’t have any childhood zoo memories, as an adult, when my husband and I were visiting a zoo, a rhino took one look at him and came charging. There was a moat, so no real danger to anyone. But it was perplexing and rather funny, as my husband is a sweet and gentle man and it was hard to imagine what triggered the response. We ultimately decided it must have been something he was wearing. And yet, on a return visit, the rhino did it again. Picked him out of the all the people there and came at him. Strange. And I vowed I’d never take him in the wild with me if there was a chance rhinos would be around. 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Deborah. I limped to the finish line! Now, to get reading on all those posts I’ve missed while I’ve been busy posting.

      You know, it sounds like maybe the rhino was just jealous. They say an elephant never forgets. But heaven help the rhino with a grudge!

  3. Our family is scarred for life after a trip to the National Zoo in DC where we watched an ape poop in his hand, eat it, poop in his hand again, eat it, and on and on. It was like a car accident, you wanted to look away, but you couldn’t.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      This could have been a primate process for getting a little privacy! I’ve just read it, and I feel a bit of scarring in my eyes, Deb!

  4. beth says:

    i’ve always loved the zoo, and still do! feel for the big animals, though. our zoo director sent the elephants to a wildlife rescue area on open land out west, felt the zoo was way to small fo them and i agree )

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      There’s definitely mixed emotions, beth, for me too. At a nature preserve we used to visit, they had deer in an enclosure right next to the wolves. The wolves paced incessantly. It had to have been torture for them to be right there, you know?

      That’s a zoo director with their heart in the right place.

  5. We love our zoo. When mine were young, i joined the friends of the zoo every year, it was the best entertainment money i ever spent.

    Yes, there’s a lot of controversy, but until the world is fit (meaning we humans quit fouling our nest!), zoos are the only way many animal species will survive.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Yes, that friends-of-zoo program, and the reciprocity with other zoos? The best thing ever. Most favorite card I ever carried.

      Conservation is a big part of what many zoos do. Maybe we’ll learn to treat our planet a little better after all this is said and done, Mimi.

  6. I loved taking my son to the zoo in Seattle. But around age ten or so, he became so sensitive he couldn’t handle something about the zoo – except he loved the part with ducks and other waterfowl. Growing up, I didn’t go to the zoo very many times. We went to our local Boston Aquarium much more.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Zoos can put us on edge. I never was comfortable with the polar bear exhibit at the NC Zoo. His behavior… above all else, I felt he was miserable there.

      Maybe the ducks and waterfowl appealed to your son because they were more free than other animals there.

      The aquarium is something else, isn’t it? I could spend a day there not saying a single word. That’s saying something for me.

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