One of my favorite memories of childhood were my days spent at to the Kansas City Zoo. It was like going on a trip around the world, seeing exotic animals that had only previously graced the pages of my encyclopedias. I loved all kinds of animals, still do actually, but I was particularly taken with the giraffe because of the impressive height. That, and their seemingly preternatural ability to remain standing on legs that were obviously meant for a much smaller animal. At the time, the giraffes were in what I remember being a large pit so you were standing above them (as in this little 2-color doodlewash of a younger one as that is all that would fit in my tiny sketchbook). Later, as the zoo would continue to be updated, the giraffes were given more comfortable quarters and you would have to stare into the sky to take them all in. But since giraffes spend most of their life standing, including during childbirth, I always felt a bit sorry for the babies as their first memory is being toppling out of their mammoth mother and dropping unceremoniously over five feet to the ground.
The giraffes and elephants were in the Africa section and were the last stop on the tour back then. Most of the animal exhibits that were there during my childhood have changed and the zoo has grown in scale, making a trip today, just as impressive as when I was little. Philippe and I visited the zoo earlier this year and it was my first time there in many, many years. One of the changes that I missed was the reptile house. It was creepy as hell, humid and dank, with small little windows to peer into and see strange scaly creatures, culminating with a walk under a large python. I’m sure none of this was up to modern standards, but today’s replacement feels more like a visit to a pet store. I miss the drama and theatrics, but it probably wouldn’t impress me in quite the same way now that I’m over six feet tall and no longer told to leave the room during horror movies. But I was a bit disappointed by the omission nonetheless.
A trip to the zoo wasn’t complete however, without a visit to the gift shop. I remember getting a large package of little figurines of all different kinds of animals and it was amazing. It was like being able to take a miniature zoo home with me. The giraffes always seemed a bit fragile, though, so I played more with the fat and sturdy little elephants. In that moment, I was certain that when I grew up I would work with animals in a zoo. This, of course, changed each time I visited a new location or learned something new, but for a day at least, I was a future zookeeper. Truthfully, I’m still not quite sure what I want to be when I grow up, and I’m not ruling anything out yet. But something tells me that I’d have much more fun drawing the animals than cleaning up their poop, so perhaps everything turned out just as it should. In the meantime, I’ll just relive those wonderful childhood memories that made me who I am today and satisfy any latent animal caretaking urges with just a simple visit to the zoo.
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Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Deep. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon with black ink in a little red cloth hardbound l’aquarelle journal I found in a Paris shop.
26 thoughts on “A Visit To The Zoo”
Your baby giraffe is truly adorable with those gigantic eyes, stick out ears, and spindly legs that seem to surpass scientific logic in holding up the spotted boat of a creature. I like that you chose a challenging frontal pose to represent as profile is much easier. Your reminiscence of visiting the zoo as a kid are close to mine though I never willingly entered any area with snakes or bugs – still don’t.
As for not being sure what you want to be when you grow up – don’t bother. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. This way you can always change your goals to match your newest interest.
Awww thanks so much, Sharon! 😃💕 So glad you liked him! And yay to never decided what you want to be when you grow up. Heck… yay to never growing up at all!!
What a sweet giraffe!
Awww thanks so much, Annie! 😃💕
I LOVE giraffes!! ❤❤❤ I think I told you how I drew, painted and created giraffes for a year in 2013! And I was so excited to actually feed REAL ones in the Colorado Springs zoo…(super weird though because there was snow on the ground at the time!) 😮❄️ I also have a large stuffed giraffe that my hubby gave me that year for my birthday. ❤ Giraffes are the best, Charlie – yours included! 🎨👍🌈💕
Thanks so much, Jill! 😃💕 Yes!! hehe!! So happy you liked my giraffe as I know you’re a big fan! That’s so sweet that you hubby gave you a stuffed one… I love getting stuffed animals, but haven’t gotten one in years!
Oh, you really need to get one and paint it, Charlie! 🐻💕 They are super fun to draw and paint!! 😃 I challenge you to go for it! 🎨👍
I’ll put it on my birthday wish list for Philippe! hehe 😉👍🏻
I love giraffes Charlie, and your baby is looking adorable, despite falling five feet 😀 Such majestic creatures…I have only painted one before, I must do another some time soon…trying to get through a back log of about 10 unfinished paintings first, lol.
Thanks so much, Rebecca! 😃💕 So glad you liked him! And yes… you should paint more of them! You’re so fabulous with creatures of any kind! (even human, which I can’t seem to do at all! hehe)
I will get to it in the coming months hopefully?? 😀
I’ll just take that as a … definitely! 😉hehe
Like your giraffe, Charlie….growing up in the wilds of W. Montana…no childhood trip to a zoo. Saw and lived with lots of wildlife on frequent forays to the mountains and both Glacier and Yellowstone Parks. I enjoy your blog posts and continue to enjoy the challenges of painting things for my journal from the Challenge list. All the best.
Thanks so much, Glen! 😃💕 Glad you liked my giraffe! And thrilled you’re enjoying the Challenge this month!
A lovely tribute to this beautiful creature. Let’s hope the world will wake up and save them, as the numbers have declined to the endangered level in recent years. (K)
Thanks so much, Kerfe! 😃💕 Yes… it’s sad to think we could ever be without them one day. Hopefully humans will step up and do the right thing!
He’s awesome, and so friendly-looking! It’s like he’s thinking about whether to come and say hello or not. My zoo visits were few and far between; I keep meaning to remedy that as an adult and see some more tigers (and giraffes, of course!), but never get round to it. This year!
Thanks, Jacob! 😃💕 You totally need to remedy that! This is the year to see more tigers and giraffes… In fact… it should always be the year to see a zonkey!!
Haha, I second that! Maybe we can pitch 2017 Year of the Zonkey to the people who legitimised World Watercolour Month? Just imagine! 😉
That would be so amazing!! Though I don’t anyone would go for it. Zonkeys are still on the fringes of society sadly.
Brilliant giraffe – love it!
Thanks so much, Michael! 😃💕 Glad you like this!
I’ve got a thing about them. He’s gorgeous.
hehe… That’s awesome! So happy you liked him, JP! 😃💕
I just liked skipping the whole zoo part and going straight to the gift shops when I was younger 😉
Lol… the gift shops were definitely the coolest! Thanks so much! 😃