LA Zoo Summer Slumber - July 26 & 27, 2008

We took some friends and spent the night at the Los Angeles Zoo.
We had activities and learned how to identify animals from their skulls. We learned to measure the skull and multiple by five to estimate the body length. Based on the location of the eyes we learn it was a predator if they are located forward and a prey if located to the sides. Based on the type of teeth, we learn it eats meats if they are pointy and sharp or it eats plants if they are flat like molars. We learn to identify hearing nodes in the skull that indicated a keen sense of sound. And the placement of the spine can indicate if it has two legs when the spin goes straight down, four legs if at an angle and no legs (or swimmer) if the spin goes straight out. (Tinky Winky tried to point out that no spin could mean it's a Teletubby, Beanie Baby or one of those critters found in gift shops.) Armed with all this new knowledge we tried to identify five skulls. Our first one was easy, as it still had it’s archeology markings on the bottom, identifying it as a dolphin.

Then there was a bird that looked like a hawk but we missed the large eye sockets that should have told us it has good eye sight and might be an Owl. The Beaver skull was very unique with it’s large flat sharp font teeth. But the hippo skull threw us off because we didn’t know that hippos have ivory tusks as well as teeth.
And lastly we identified a predator as a member of the cat family but had no idea it was a lion as the head looked so small without the muscle and fur.
After dark we got a private night tour of some of the animals but mostly found many (over a dozen) skunks. They are the zoo maintenance crew as they eat all the dropped popcorn, cotton candy and food stuff left by the visitors.
The next day they brought in some ambassadors for us to touch.
We also got to visit a few animals in the morning before they went to sleep through the hot day.It was a wonderful adventure!