My toddler wanted to meet Boots. You guessed it right. Boots the monkey, Dora’s best friend. So we took him to Leesburg Animal Park. He loved the sight of Boots and was awestruck to watch Max & Ruby – the rabbits. He also wanted to have a glance on mermaids and fishes shown in his favorite TV series: Bubble Guppies.
While he enjoyed feeding cows, chicken, goats, etc at the park; these animals revived my childhood memories.
In my kindergarten days, few red-eyed rabbits were caged in our school; we used to wait in line for our turn to feed them. Kids brought for them bread, butter, candies and all. Max & Ruby were breathtaking.
A place of worship next door had a pond with lots of fishes, color of algae and water critters reflected beautifully on them. Bubble Guppies were a reminder of it.
Back home, we were also accustomed to viewing many animal species for free, literally. Our neighbors worshiped monkeys and offered them bananas. Each summer at a given time, Boots along with its family hopped on rooftops of homes that shared walls much like apartments and townhouses here.
Monkeys were fond of bread, tomatoes, eggs, mangoes and bananas. Familiar with kitchen for these products, they used to appear suddenly through open windows, deck or door. Pouncing on food, messing up and vanishing within minutes. It was scary. We used to shoot at them with a toy gun or light firecrackers to scare them away.
Zoo’s farm animals reminded me of the neighborhood’s butcher shop where hen and chicken used to move about freely.
And then, those free rides street kids used to get on Donkeys. Pony lookalike donkeys were used for hauling loads of bricks, rocks and other material for construction purpose.
Railway station few miles away from our home had an arrangement for buggy rides too. A small description of how much we enjoyed wouldn’t do justice.
Stray cows, bulls, elephants, dogs, cats etc were a common sight. And so were bird species. Parrots, pigeons, crows, fire flies, etc., flitting about on the trees.
Then there were pigs, marginalized species! They were seen "oinking" and looking for food only near dumping grounds in poor communities.
And who would forget those Peacock’s unusual sight- Fanning their tail and dancing in rain- in woods closer to my mom’s workplace.
Red-tail boa at the park freshened up my memory of Serpent deities. We’ve observed such snakes occasionally on roadside. Their worshippers asked devotees to donate money and in return the snake would bless them (various legendry tales).
We left the zoo. My toddler excited to visit again, but this time one that had housed Spongebob and marine species.