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We spent so much time with the meerkats I wouldn't have been surprised if the tour-bus driver had mentioned us as part of the display. If there was ever a rodent to anthropomorphize, it is the meerkat.

These sociable mongooses can stand on two feet, and the way they quickly turned their noses up in the air made me think of a sommelier suddenly detecting the scent of 1959 Chateau Lafite Rothschild in a dive bar.

Jenny wanted nothing to do with the camels. As we walked by the camel enclosure, one of the beasts was blessing the dirt with a steady stream of piss.

"This is disgusting," Jenny whispered. Don't stop; keep walking."

"Look, that one's humps are sagging to the side," I pointed out.

"Eww! Keep walking. I don't need to see that; it's gross." She was still whispering. I didn't need to ask her why she kept her voice so low. To me, it was obvious: she didn't want to offend the camel, and I didn't blame her.

We headed past the exit to the reptiles but gave up looking at ancient tortoises to chase lizards up and down the trellis outside the restrooms. There were so many of them, and I was able to touch one! Jenny got a picture of my fingertip in front of the lizard's mouth; the miniature dragon was no longer than my finger.

We headed back toward the koalas, reading each other's minds. Our father's favorite animal is the koala. For the second year in a row, his business took Dad out of the country on St. Patrick's Day, and for a New York Irishman, this is not a good thing. So Jenny and I thought we'd take pictures of koalas and e-mail them to him. Not that they have anything to do with being Irish, but we were convinced that pictures of his favorite cuddly animal would put a smile on his face.

Jenny had made a point to get as many animal ass shots as she could for her boyfriend, Brad. Due to a lack of cooperation on the animals' part, she ended up with only a handful of exotic butts for the humorous slide show she was planning. Of all the animals I'd seen that day, Jenny was my favorite.

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