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Sheree Zielke
World Traveler, Writer & Photographer

A Baby Boomer who loves travel, travel writing, photography, teaching digital camera and photography, and sharing travel tips and stories.

Go to South Texas to See One of the Best Zoos in North America!

The high-pitched shrieks and loud roars were blood-curdling. People ran from all corners of the zoo to see what the ruckus was all about. Was something or someone being killed? The horrible sounds were coming from the gorilla enclosure. We raced to the wall and stared, mouths hanging open in amazement. A massive silverback gorilla was attacking a younger male gorilla while other members of the group screamed in panic, or maybe, excitement. We continued to stare, transfixed, as the wild drama unfolded.

That was my experience at the Gladys Porter Zoo. But "gorilla warfare" was not the only thing that made my trip to this top-notch zoo, unforgettable. However, it was a fitting memory of a zoo that I now list as my top favorite of all the American zoos I have visited.

It was a warm April morning under overcast skies; graceful seabirds looped-the-loop overhead, their long necks stretched forth as they surfed the breeze. Sweet jasmine perfumed the air, while a large group of school children, in burgundy skirts, sat obediently awaiting their teacher's commands. To our right, noisy freeway traffic made me question my decision to visit this place. adparams.getadspec('c_billboard1');

I had anticipated visiting this south Texas zoo since I first read about it on the Internet. However, when I discovered it was situated in downtown Brownsville, I became a little leery as to what I would find. My fears were unjustified, however. The Gladys Porter Zoo is everything it is promoted to be, and more. Once inside the main gates, you will be transported; you will forget that a busy downtown city surrounds this 26-acre zoo.

Upon entering the zoo (we paid a very affordable $9 per adult), I noticed a "What's New," sign above a deserted booth, and stopped to read it. It listed a variety of intriguing options including: "Frogs," "Baby Saki Monkey," "Baby Camel," and "Baby Gorilla (Martha's 12/18/07)." It was this latter entry that grabbed my attention. I am a gorilla-lover.

The Western Lowland gorilla enclosure was off to our left. We made our way over, and we were soon joined by a chatty zoo guide, Kaleen; she's been volunteering with the zoo since its opening in 1971. She knew the gorilla family well. She pointed out each of the 14 family members, noting their names, and their histories. In many cases, she was able to get them to respond to her voice. A female gorilla, Penney, mom to baby, Samantha, honored us with a goofy, crooked big-toothed gorilla grin. She did so several times, much to our delight, and our camera lenses.

Everything was peaceful inside the gorilla enclosure; the exciting hoopla didn't happen till later, after we had toured some of the zoo's other areas like its Australian Walkabout, its Small World, its Free-flight Aviary, and its African exhibit complete with lions and giraffes.

Read the full article here - http://www.helium.com/items/998575-pitched-shrieks-roars-blood


Sheree Zielke
Edmonton, Alberta Canada

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