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“God, how awesome would that be?” I said, once I was able to tear my gaze away from the meerkats. “So, what next?”

“I can’t leave without hitting up the petting zoo,” said Jen, as though reading my mind.

Jen and I did our best to tune out the screeching of the children who stood between us and the woolly sheep, coarse-haired goats, and the pig with scaly skin whose nose turned out to be quite soft. Finally, I was close to wild-ish animals, stroking their heads as I would my own pet. This was not like the squirrel encounter I had in the park a few years ago, when I was bitten after trying to touch its furry little head — this was safe. These animals were disease-free and not likely to come at me with tooth and claw.

I shooed human kids out of my way to get closer to the animal kind. From where we stood or crouched to caress our chosen critter (the pig’s nose for Jen and the fluffy fleece of a sheep for me), we caught each other’s eye and shared a big stupid grin. But as cool as it was to get right up next to the pygmy ponies and their friends in the petting zoo, I would have given anything at that moment to be sitting among the meerkats.

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Comments

jim87vette Sept. 5, 2008 @ 12:59 p.m.

That looks fun I have not been in many years to the zoo.I do go camping a lot and see many wild animals though,its so relaxing and exciting to me.

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chaibooty Sept. 6, 2008 @ 3:35 p.m.

Hi Barbarella,

I'm the meerkat keeper you speak of. I am delighted to see your interest in the meerkats and in my job as a zookeeper. The video was cute too. I always enjoy reading your stories in the Reader. Let me know if you would like to get a more up close view of the meerkats. I am sure they would enjoy it as much as you.

Thanks!

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Barbarella Fokos Sept. 6, 2008 @ 5:57 p.m.

Chaibooty, OhmyGod! I never pass up an opportunity for a closer look at animals (yesterday morning I was ecstatic to have a small deer eat out of my hand at the Wild Animal Park). If you would be so kind as to email me directly: Barbarellaj5@yahoo.com. I would love to meet you and your animal friends. Thank you for reading! Best, Barbarella
p.s. I'm happy you enjoyed the story and video.

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Barbarella Fokos Sept. 9, 2008 @ 3:05 p.m.

Ah, but which kind, Pete? The kind I saw at the zoo, pacing back and forth in their cage while stalking irritating children in strollers, or the kind that skulk around the pricier bars in La Jolla? Hee hee.

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Barbarella Fokos Sept. 8, 2008 @ 3:29 p.m.

Jim, I bet it's even more exciting to catch a glimpse of animals while in the wild, like you do camping, because it's that much more unexpected and they're in their natural habitats. Too bad I don't "camp," but it's a good thing I'm so close to the zoo. ;)

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snackycakes420 Sept. 9, 2008 @ 4:14 p.m.

You're so right about the big cats stalking kids at the zoo. They always eyeball my 2-year old like she's lunch. Oh yeah, but she's not irritating :-)

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Barbarella Fokos Sept. 9, 2008 @ 5:39 p.m.

It's funny, right, snackycakes? I thought I was imagining it at first, but that cougar's eyes did not leave the kid until he was out of sight. Must be creepy as a child to be stalked as prey. I thought it was because that kid was screaming, but the cat did the same for the quiet ones. Predator in action! ;)

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snackycakes420 Sept. 9, 2008 @ 8:17 p.m.

Definitely not your imagination! One time I walked up to the cage holding my daughter (instead of her being down lower in the stroller), and the leopard literally did a double take when he saw her and then jumped off the log to sit right in front of us. It was cool because it just sat there up close and personal, but it was a little disconcerting the way he kept licking his chops...

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pete78 Sept. 10, 2008 @ 5:09 p.m.

I hear that the San Diego cougar is endemic to George's in La Jolla...me likey.

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