Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cracker Frisbee

Yesterday I went to the Greenville Zoo with a friend.  When you buy your ticket, you can buy a packet of crackers to feed the animals.  I was feeling playful, so I got one.  It was worth it, but only because I figured out what to do with them.  Most people seem to use the crackers to feed the farm animals at the end.  This is a mistake.  People are constantly trying to feed them the crackers, so they don't care.  The proper targets for the crackers are the elephants, giraffes, and giant tortoises.

Feeding the tortoises is easy, but it takes a bit of skill to successfully launch a cracker over the retaining pit and into the enclosures for the large animals.  You have to break it in half and use your fingers to flick it like a little frisbee, with the dimpled side of the crackers up in order to maintain stability and lift.  After one or two practice shots, I achieved surprisingly good range and accuracy with the crackers.  Most kids, and many adults, do not have the mental or physical skill to manage this feat, so it is fairly rare for a cracker to actually land where an elephant or giraffe can reach it.  So they are happy for the treat.

It also helps that I sent them in at the right time, when the animals were munching on hay or leaves.  The animal is thinking about food, and it knows that the crackers taste better than what it is munching on at the moment.  If you tried to feed them when they were doing something else, they probably wouldn't notice.  But I got the timing right, so I got to watch the big animals grabbing and munching on something I had fed them.  It was fun.

The zoo was fairly good overall, but it is a city zoo so it is quite small compared to the other zoos I have been to.  The elephant enclosure is, frankly, not up to the standards of modern animal care, and the first time I saw them they were rocking back and forth in the manner of animals who live in an environment that is too small or boring.  But they seemed better the second time I saw them, when they were eating and bathing.

1 comment:

E said...

It's not (or wasn't) always a mistake to save a few crackers for the barnyard area. I remember feeding the goats crackers that they ate quite readily way back then. Perhaps it was early in the day. They also used to have more goats and poultry, and the pigs did not always have the 'special diet' sign. (heck they probably they got the diet after problems from gorging on grain crackers.)

The crackers seemed a lot blander compared to when I was little and used to munch on them. I remembered the rye being much stronger... The giraffes sure seemed to enjoy them though!