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Karlie Tipton, Editorial Assistant
Photo by STEVEN WALKER
Dreams Do Come Chew
By Karlie Tipton
April 4, 2013
Until two weeks ago, I wasn’t sure dreams could come true.
I’ve always felt a kinship with giraffes. They are beautiful and unique—each one has a different pattern of spots—but they are also very tall and, at times, extremely awkward, much like myself (except for the “at times” part). Since I was a “little” girl a head above all of the boys in my class, I wished with all my heart I could meet that creature who might sympathize with my plight.
Almost two decades later, on a cold and blustery Sunday afternoon, at 1:29 p.m. to be exact, I stood in line at the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden behind a two-and-a-half-year-old and her mother to partake in one of the greatest moments in my twenty-four years of life. When the gate opened, I giddily poured my three dollars’ worth of change into the attendant’s hand, the embarrassment of having to pay in nickels and dimes diminishing my excitement not a bit. With thickly gloved hands, she gave me three pieces of romaine and let me pass. Immediately to my left was Ellie, a tall drink of water on four legs. Our eyes met for just a second, but we were instantly friends.
Ellie was never pushy. Although we both knew she wanted those delicious leafy greens I held, she waited for me to come to her. When I did offer up her snack, she gently wrapped her purple, arm-like tongue around the leaf and pulled it out of my hand.
All too quickly, my supply of lettuce had been depleted, and it was time for me to leave my friend. I looked back over my shoulder as I exited the gate and, as she glanced my way, we said our silent goodbyes, knowing deep down this wasn’t the end.
Holding a few pieces of lettuce out while an animal devours it in 3.2 seconds might not sound so great to many (soulless) people, but to me it was pure magic. I never thought I would get the opportunity to feed the tallest living terrestrial animal, to be close enough to touch a creature that makes its home in the savannas of Tanzania, approximately 8,825 miles from Oklahoma City.
But that’s what the Oklahoma City Zoo is all about. It’s a place where you can watch South African meerkats lounge around in the mid-day sun, Malaysian red pandas chase their tails, a baby elephant named Malee splash around in her new habitat, or two-story tall herbivore munch down her afternoon salad. Our zoo—number three in the nation, according to travel site 10Best.com—is a place where the dreams of everyone, from a toddler to a twenty-four-year-old, can become a reality.
For those that share my life-long ambition of feeding a giraffe, the zoo offers the opportunity every day from 11:00-12:00 and 1:30-2:30 for only $3. For everyone else, Zoo Friends passes are available at guest relations for $45 for a full year.