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Animals Do The Darndest Things: Franklin Park Zoo Brings Out The Fun in Everyone

By Paul Rowe

Animals surprise us through the way they continually generate laughter, tears, joy, and love in every human they come across. Franklin Park Zoo teems with wild animals seeking your affection, your attention, and your riotous laughter.

"I get a lot of enjoyment from watching animals," says Jeannine Jackle, Assistant Curator of the Tropical Forest at Franklin Park Zoo. "They make me smile every day."

Let's face it. Sometimes we all feel like gorillas. Humans are just as desperate for free play, self-expression, and healthy laughter as their distant primate relatives - especially after a long week's work.

"One of my favorite things to see is when the big male gorillas play with young gorillas," says Jackle. "Kitombe, our silverback, loves to play with his daughter Kambiri who is four years old. He will put rubber tubs or blankets on his head to entice Kambiri to play. He just makes himself look goofy and she knows it's time to play. Recently, one of the other adult males, Okpara, has been playing with her. They play a game where she throws hay on his head and he just seems delighted."

(Kiki and baby Aziza)

The joyous experience of watching a gorilla have a good time makes the grumpiest of the bunch feel like a kid again. In fact, even older critters know how to get down and have a good time.

"At 43 years old, Gigi is the oldest gorilla at Franklin Park Zoo," says Jackle. "After Gigi, the second oldest animal that resides in the Tropical Forest is Lyle, the West African crocodile, who hatched in 1974."

Some of the youngsters at Franklin Park Zoo include Common Shoveler ducks hatched right at home in Franklin Park's Children's Zoo who are now living it up at the Tropical Forest, twin ring-tailed lemurs that were born in June, and Aziza, the baby gorilla born in mid-May.

"The lemurs, a much more precocial species than gorillas, are actually maturing at a much faster rate and can be observed running all over the exhibit, whereas Aziza, the baby gorilla, still clings tightly to mom," says Jackle. Baby animals have a soft spot in all of our hearts. Who hasn't had a "cute overload" from seeing a kitten chase her shadow, or puppy play hide-and-seek with fellow members of the litter?

"I love baby animals," says Jackle. "They are so playful and active, and it's amazing to watch them grow up."

Any parent knows it's an incredible experience watching kids grow up. At Franklin Park Zoo, parents have as much fun watching animals grow up as they do watching their own kiddos: And the best part of it all is they don't have to pay for these critters to go to college.

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About The Author

Paul Rowe is a graduate instructor of writing and master's student of Literature at...

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