From Zoo to You

Sometimes you see a question that makes you laugh. Some questions make you think, and others do both. I came across an interview question the other day that asked, “If you could be any animal you wanted, what animal would you be, and why?” At first, I did not think about the question much and gave a little chuckle to how funny I thought the question was to ask an adult.


As the day went on and I walked around the zoo, I found myself looking at all the different animals who live at our zoo and asking myself which one I would be if I had the opportunity to be an animal. It was a lot of fun and taught or reminded me of a few things. The first thing I realized is that we have a tremendous number of animals to choose from if you are looking for an animal you would like to be. The second thing I realized was that I would want to be our male black rhino, Jabari.


Black rhinos are amazing animals, and our Jabari has an amazing life. In the wild, male black rhinos will wander a larger territory eating and grazing on lots of veggies. While I like a good hamburger from time to time, I like my veggies too, and walking around looking for food to munch on could be a relaxing day. Now, Jabari has a big up on wild rhinos.


When there is a drought or a food shortage in the wild, the rhinos out there may go hungry for a time. Jabari does not have to worry about that because Lee Richardson Zoo makes sure Jabari has a plentiful supply of food at all times. Being that I like eating regularly, that’s one reason I pick Jabari as the animal I want to be. Jabari still walks around and forages through his outdoor habitats to get his food. His caretakers make sure he has to do a little bit of work to get his food, and they put lots of enrichment out for him to play with too.


Wild rhinos also have to occasionally put up with annoyances from lions and hyenas while roaming around the plains of Africa. Full-grown healthy rhinos rarely have to worry about being overtaken. However, a hungry pride of lions or a group of hyenas might still be a concern while a rhino is walking around eating his lunch or dinner. The wild is not as easy as we might think for animals. Jabari does not have to worry about any lions or hyenas bothering him while he goes about his daily business. Jabari can hear the lions when they roar, but he can leisurely roll in one of his mud wallows and while away the day while the lions roar their sounds of dominance.


So, I would choose to be Jabari, our male black rhino, if I had to choose what animal to be.


And the other thing the question, “If you could be any animal you wanted, what animal would you be, and why?” made me realize, was to always have fun. Let our minds run wild and enjoy the wanderings of what might seemingly be a childish question. Have fun in nature and look at how we are connected to the environment around us. What similarities do we have, and how do those similarities impact our life? Don’t forget to take a deep breath and roll around in the mud occasionally while the world roars around us.


So, if you want to pick what animal you would be if you had to choose, take some time and come to Lee Richardson Zoo and look around. Take a few minutes to watch the animals and see what similarities you can find.


For more information on activities at Lee Richardson Zoo, follow us on Facebook, visit our webpage www.leerichardsonzoo.org, or give us a call at 620-276-1250.


Max Lakes is the deputy director at Lee Richardson Zoo.