My Bubie says that the world that God has created for us is full of splendor, wonder, surprise, and complexity. I am not sure that I understand all these words, but my Bubie promised us that after our visit to the zoo, I would understand what she is talking about. This is a story about how my siblings, and I began to see the wonder, the “Wow!” in our world when we left our neighborhood of Mea Shearim, in Jerusalem, and went on an adventure that I will never forget.
It was a warm day in Jerusalem and our Bubie and Zada were coming to visit. This was a special day because our parents agreed to let my Bubie and Zada take us to the zoo. Normally we are not allowed to go to places where there might be a lot of people who are not modestly dressed, but it was a school day for most of the children and so they did not feel that it would be too crowded.
We had to take two cars because, thank God, there are so many of us. All the older children always want to ride in Zada’s car because it feels like he drives faster than Bubie, but I’m not sure if that is true. Also, Zada likes to sing, and we all love to hear Zada singing. He has a wonderful voice, and he makes us laugh.
We arrived at the Tisch family zoological gardens in Jerusalem https://www.itraveljerusalem.com/ent/tisch-family-zoological-gardens-the-biblical-zoo/ late in the afternoon with only a few hours to see all of the animals. It is impossible to see everything in one day there. We had to make some choices and we began to run first to the pond, which is at the entrance to the gardens.
The blue-green water was covered with patches of leaves and bubbling with fish, orange, white and black. Afloat on the calm waters of the pond were beautiful birds with many combinations of colors, browns, whites, and pinks. We threw pieces of bread into the pond to see who would be the first to retrieve it, the birds, or the fish. It was quite a competition between them!
Suddenly, one of my sisters pointed to the sprawling trees above the pond. There was a creature swinging from branch to branch, like we swing on the bars at the playground. “A monkey!”, Rivke yelled with surprise and delight. “I want to see lions and tigers and more monkeys and zebras and elephants and giraffes”, each of us yelled out a different animal. We could not imagine that those pictures, which we had seen in our books in black and white, were real, alive, in color and walking around in the very same place we were, at that very moment!
The race was on! We had so much to see and so little time. Who knew when we would again have the opportunity to come to this magical jungle of creatures again? Each animal drew us to their beauty, their size, their sounds, and their colors. The lions roared for us, the chimpanzees performed for us, the elephants stopped for us and threw dirt all around and the birds sang for us. Each animal had a message, if you listened to them closely. "I am not like you, but I share this planet with you and you are responsible for my survival, just as I am important to your survival. We are all put here for a reason. See my majesty, celebrate my uniqueness, and enjoy my behaviors. I sing, I dance, I roar, I laugh, I fight, and I play. Sometimes I am quiet, sometimes I want to be alone, sometimes I want to be with my family, sometimes I have more fun watching you, than you have watching me!"
I learned today that this world is far more exotic than what I experience in my day-to-day life. Every animal, bird, and reptile that I saw today caused us all to open our eyes, our ears and our mouths and say, “WOW”! what a gift our world is. What a wonder it all is. The colors, the textures, the bodies of each of the animals, created as part of a world that God has given us to take care of. When I read that some creatures are losing their homes because of things that people do to hurt the environment, I was so sad. How can we not take our task seriously? We are truly the guardians of this planet!
I decided that I would learn about ways we can help preserve the beauty and variety of our world. How when my children grow-up and we want to take them to the zoo or even on a safari in Africa, I can be proud that we helped to ensure the survival of many of these species of animals and the habitats in which they live.
My Bubie and Zada open our eyes to many possibilities, opportunities, and wonders in the world, but this trip to the zoo opened our eyes to the most stunning creatures that God has placed on our earth and for these, I will always be grateful!
Here is the link to the new book my Bubie wrote- Wow! A Child's Prayer to Wonder and Gratitude inspired by our first trip to the zoo. It is also the link to other books my Bubie has written.