The only problem with a birthday is the aging situation. But when you’re a year old, what the heck? That was the situation that took place at the Dallas Zoo on Thursday, July 10.
It was a glorious day. . . almost too glorious. The sun was blistering sky high, but for youngsters patiently waiting to enter the zoo property, it was giggle, wiggle and wait.
Once within the confines of the zoo, it was a wonderland of “Wow!”
Oh, sure the area next to the parking lot had the every-day, grazing horses that frequent the North Texas area, but then past the entrance booths, it was an animal-watching adventure.
While some adults and children ventured to the Wild Encounters Stage in Wilds of Africa with Teddy Bear showing his quills, the real action was at the Cheetah Encounter just behind Picnic Ridge.
Here toddlers being chauffeured in strollers and older kids like Diane Brierley, Ellen Winspear, Phyllis Hall, Michael Meadows and Dallas Zoo Executive Director Gregg Hudson watched and “perspired” waiting for the birthday boys.
It was just a year ago that cheetah cubs Winspear and Kamau and the black Lab Amani were born. Within a matter of weeks the three were brought together. The hope was the cheetahs, whose species is renowned for being shy, would bond with the pooch, whose breed is known as calm, friendly and as outgoing as Jimmy Kimmel. The relationship worked with none of the boys threatening to eat each other.
But over the year, one of the boys was lost. Kamau died in January from a respiratory disease, breaking the hearts of the zoo staff and the young cub’s fans. But Winspear had Amani to fall back on for companionship. Guess no one had ever told them that cats and dogs weren’t supposed to get along.
As the sun did its work on the red/white/blue iceberg birthday cakes in the center of the Cheetah Run, TV cameras and children lined up along the enclosure eager for the boys to arrive.
Finally word over the PA announced the arrival of the boys. They sprung into the run with Amani taking the lead but only momentarily as Winspear sprinted ahead. But both put on the brakes when they spotted the two 3’-tall ice cakes of milk and chicken broth. On either side of the cakes were tubs of water with rubber toys floating.
Winspear and Amani sniffed out the situation, took a tentative lick of the icy desserts and then chased a ball that Dallas Zoo VP of Guest Experiences Sean Greene threw across the compound. Amani once again started off first, but was soon in second place for the toy as the graceful, sleek Winspear sped past him.
Shoot! Amani didn’t care if the cat got the toy. With pink tongue hanging out, he headed back to one of the tubs of water and without a second thought tried to fit his body into the pool.
On the other hand, Winspear sauntered back to the tubs watching his buddy splash away. He didn’t get his buddy’s fascination with the water. It seemed a little outgoing for him. Sean then presented Winspear with another rubber toy. Taking the toy, the cheetah purred and wandered over to shady spot next to the fence where his fans crowded. Winspear lay down to take in the adoration like Angelina Jolie.