Boo at the zoo


Last weekend at the Atlanta Zoo, disbelieving onlookers simply stood, without intervening, and videoed with their phones the surreal scene unfolding before them.

The two sisters, falling out of the tree they had just climbed, continued their epic struggle on the ground for all to see. More surprising than the skirmish unfolding right in front of The Wife, our two granddaughters and me was the fact the father of the two unruly offspring was oblivious to what was going on, or simply didn’t care.

If this wasn’t enough excitement during our zoo visit, two wild animals got loose and ran amuck amongst all the visitors.

After stuffing our backpack with drinks and snacks and buckling the girls into their car seats, we left for the zoo just after sunrise. Boo at the Zoo would be a new event for us all so the girls weren’t the only ones in the car excited.

We were halfway to the zoo before I realized all our costumes were still on the couch, which was why our first stop once inside the zoo was the face-painting table. Ten minutes later, The Wife and I walked away from that table with a blonde-headed unicorn and red-headed Bengal tiger following us.

The wild unicorn and Bengal tiger spent the better part of the morning scurrying between all the other costume-clad visitors, receiving sweets from each of the ten candy stations and climbing every brass animal sculpture or concrete giant anthill they came upon, stopping long enough along the way to pose with the countless costume superheroes and fairy tale characters walking the zoo grounds.

Right after lunch under the grand old oak tree, our wild animals were almost ready to go home. That is until they walked right in front of the two sisters who were beginning to fight. Who knew it would be the most videoed incident at the zoo that day?

The two sisters eventually started fighting and exchanging blows as they wrestled over the same big ball. Watching in stunned amazement, a crowd started to form – our Bengal tiger and unicorn amongst them.

Falling to the ground, the two sisters rolled around, each struggling to get the upper hand. Kicking up a dust cloud as the two rolled around, the epic battle over the ball made me smile and remember wrestling with my brothers a long long time ago on that old familiar street not so far away.

Distracted for a moment with my walk down Flamingo, my attention was quickly brought back to the battle at hand. On their feet once again, the sisters ran over to a nearby tree, climbing it as skillfully as we did as kids. But what happened next surprised even me.

After exchanging a few additional blows, one sister tried to bite the other! Fighting was one thing, but biting was something we never did back on Flamingo – not even Down the Street Bully Brad.

Suddenly, the smaller of the two landed a mighty blow, knocking her larger sister out of the tree! She landed with a heavy thud, making the entire crowd give a collective gasp. Even The Wife said, “My God, is she hurt?”

Then we all clapped as the giant black and white panda rolled over, got to her feet and took ownership of the giant yellow ball once again. Not to be denied her prize, her sister quickly skinned down the tree, and the epic battle continued.

Late in the afternoon, the wild unicorn and Bengal tiger left Boo at the Zoo vowing to return next year as giant black and white pandas. I just hope on that visit they don’t start fighting, rolling on the ground, biting, and climbing trees.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog:]