Oakland’s Animal Kingdom

I LOVE being shuttled around in a golf cart. It makes me feel so — important. So it was great fun motoring through the new children’s section of the Oakland Zoo the other night.
Zoo Director Dr. Joel Parrott was giving a sneak preview of a place kids are sure to love when it opens June 25. Bats and bunnies and bugs (oh my) will be living it up in their new digs. There’ll be pigs and goats and gaters too — along with a few dozen Orb Weavers (spiders with the world’s largest webs). The new Valley Children’s Zoo has been a long time coming. We dreamed about it way back in the ’80s, when I was on the board of directors. Soon it’ll be finished. And all those animals will be joined by something even stranger. A swarm of Homo sapiens.

ANIMAL TALES: I’ve heard of the owl and the pussycat — but this is ridiculous. Hills couple Tina and Bill Panzer say their cat was being bothered last month by a couple of plucky bluebirds.
“Whenever we let Jessie out, no matter which exit from our house she used, the two Scrub Jays would instantly appear and follow her around squawking nonstop.”
Tina says this went on until one day they left the door open and one of the jays flew into the house.
“It was quite a scene, the bird flying around the room, Jessie chasing it and my husband and I chasing them both,” she writes. The bird and the pussycat were rounded up and sent to their respective corners, so to speak. And that bout apparently settled the score. The jays haven’t been back since.

THAT STINGS: Swimmers at the Hills pool were stunned, last week, to see a swarm of bees passing directly overhead. Someone must have disrupted their hive in the regional park nearby because they were angry and on the move.
Meanwhile, a vector control guy was down in the Glenview district removing a hive, bare-handed, from a Bottlebrush Bush in front of the Diggery Inn. Folks say he climbed right up and took care of business, ignoring the swarm that’s been bugging folks for weeks.

COMING TOGETHER: Reader Heidi Beck tells me she had a sweet reunion last week with a woman she hasn’t heard from in ages.
“She called me to say ‘congratulations’ after reading about me in your column,” she said. I had featured 82-year-old Heidi, last Friday, in a story about her daily swim at dawn. All that exercise and she still has the energy for her volunteer job at Children’s Hospital!

AUTHOR, AUTHOR: Seems like the timing is right for a book on boxing, and that’s just what hills sportswriter Dave Newhouse has finished. A labor of love, Dave spent years traveling the country and interviewing some of boxing’s biggest names.
And what does he think about the blockbuster movie “Cinderella Man”?
“Wonderful movie but a little sappy,” according to Newhouse, who says it falls short of a classic because of actress Renee Zellewegger’s locker room speech before the big fight.

THUMBS UP: Hills equestrian Joan Van Horn doesn’t let a little thing like a thumb bring her down.
In fact, after losing her digit in a horse trailer accident, she had the surgeon transplant her big toe on her hand. It was a pretty close match, actually, and after eight hours of surgery she was so grateful she threw a “coming out” party to celebrate. Pardon the pun, but after all Joan’s been through — you really have to “hand” it to her. What a good sport.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s