She goes to the African Journey House and shows ostrich eggs and elephant teeth and long purple felt "giraffe tongues" to parents and children. They are interested to learn that elephants have four large brick like teeth that grow in at the back of their mouths and slowly
move to the front as they are worn down. The teeth then fall out and
are replaced by fresh ones. They have six sets during their lifetime, each lasting about a decade and in the end, when they run out of teeth they run out of lifetime, so to speak. I am happy that we do not have elephants living at our zoo- just a tooth for educational purposes.
She takes a group of seven year old "conservation campers" on a tour of habitats: black bear, red wolf, beaver and otter. With questions and answers they learn about riverbeds and forests and lodges underwater. They discover that black bears are extremely smart across the board: they climb, run, swim, see, hear, smell better than a seven year old can ever hope to; they even have the ability to think conceptually in a rudimentary sort of way.
She talks to visitors about the lowland gorillas, both in the wild and in captivity and engages in animated discussion about the pros and cons of zoological parks in general- and remembers that she was writing a novel with that as a starting place, before life interfered.
She considers the effort that went into the funny new jacket, takes pride in her accomplishments and values her new friends. She goes home and reads the book that they gave her: Animals as Teachers and Healers for a while and then she finally reads her e-mail after 6 days and says to herself, ruh-roh, Mr. Popper’s Penquins…
She writes a little update (below) and starts out for an evening walk around the neighborhood.
(P.S. Yes, I have officially graduated from docent training. The jacket is sort of symbolic and the picture was taken when they announced my new status in the morning. During the summer most docents wear the blue shirts and I’ll be sporting that, too, from here on in.)