Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Richard Scarry's scarlet macaw,
from Best Storybook Ever
Jackson's Very, Very Busy Day

Today we hit the farmer's market, where we got some produce and some beautiful marigolds, and where Jackson fell off a picnic table bench (argh, but no harm done), and then we took a long hike across the park to the library. Mommy forgot the stroller so Jackson got lots of practice walking on an uneven surface! We met some other great moms and nannies in the children's section of the library and Jackson commanded their attention by shouting (at non-library volume, of course) "Baby! Baa! Bear! Book!" And so forth.

After a nap in the car and a quick lunch, we made our first visit to the Star Eco Station. The Star Eco Station is a little zoo and animal rescue center right here in Culver City. They're located between Jefferson and "Ballona Creek", just north of the Baldwin Hills. The Eco Station turned out to have the great animal collection, which was well-served by our enthusiastic eco-minded teen tour guide and the small, approachable scale of the whole place. It's just an industrial warehouse refurbished to be a combo wildlife-rescue facility slash educational destination for kids, so everything is close and contained.

Jackson has demonstrated some interest in macaws after seeing them with his grandma in Las Vegas, and we were delighted to see that one of the main features of the Eco Station is their fabulous bird/parrot/macaw/cockatiel collection. We learned lots about different kinds of macaws: scarlet, military, hyacinth, blue-and-gold and more! We also saw three chincillas in real life. Chincillas and macaws are two of the more unusual animals featured in one of Jackson's favorite books, the Roger Priddy My Big Animal Book. I loved being able to give Jackson a concrete-ish association to go with pictures from familiar books.

Oh, and did I mention they also have 10 baby alligators? According to the tour guide, an unsuspecting Fedex driver was on the freeway when he heard a "scuffle" in the the back followed by the sound of a box falling off a shelf. Fedex guy pulled over, went in the back, and discovered 10 baby alligators making a break for it. Fedex guy called the police, police called U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and USFWS called the Eco Station. Long story short, if you know any responsible adults who want an alligator, I think I can get you a deal!

(The Eco Station also had two big alligators, two caimans and bunch of other interesting reptiles, including the biggest, scariest reticulated python I've ever seen, and two incredibly charming and mobile desert tortoises that live out front.)

Anyway, Jackson was overtired so it wasn't our greatest expedition ever, but he loved the macaws, even/especially the ones that were being rehabilitated because they'd been abandoned and were depressed/anxious and thus plucking out their feathers in grief. (Cry with me, animal lovers.) I swear he particularly bonded with one sweet hyacinth macaw that looked like a plucked chicken. And when we left, Jackson did his usual "By-ee!" and I'll be darned if one of the talking blue-and-gold macaws out front didn't say "Bye!" right back. Too cute!

The two major downsides to the place are (a) money, everything costs money, and (b) you can't just tour the rooms on your own--as Andrew knows I jokingly follow a strict "20 minutes per duck" policy on wildlife encounters--so that was a bummer for me. I think we could have easily spent an hour just on the parrots.

All in all though, the Eco Station had a fantastic friendly staff, we had a great tour guide, and it was a really fun trip to a cute little zoo.

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