Zoos have never been my thing.
That’s what I told my sister, Genevieve, when she asked if I wanted to join her in the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Run for the Wild, a 5K to benefit elephants held at the Bronx Zoo.
“Absolutely not,” was my answer.
“Can you at least donate money?”
Nothing about going to a zoo, or even just running through one, seemed appealing to me. Never mind that we’d have to leave the house in New Jersey around 6:30 a.m. to get there.
And I didn’t regret that decision when race day came and my family rushed around at an hour no 22-year-old should ever see on a Saturday morning. I didn’t have plans for the day except to go for a run and get coffee with my friend Laura later in the afternoon. So while my family meandered around animal cages in the Bronx, I meandered around the house, drinking English Breakfast tea and enjoying the rare silence.
But despite the big to-do I made about “never in a million years waking up early to run through a zoo,” I ended up at a local wildlife conservation center later that afternoon.
How? It was too beautiful outside to sit in a coffee shop, so Laura and I decided to grab coffees to go and visit the Wyckoff Wildlife Center instead.
And–to my surprise–I loved it.
Now I wouldn’t say we engaged with the wild as well as we could have. Sunglasses set and ponytails high, we powerwalked around the paths the way we would powerwalk down a city street. We chatted, gossiped, laughed, and made no effort to quell the constant clunking of ice in our Starbucks iced coffees.
But for all the time I spend inside buses and on city streets, this was a wonderful change of scenery.
We stopped to look at the Red Tail Hawk. We oohed and aahed at the peacocks. We basked in the 70-degrees-and-sunny weather. The day was beautiful, a spring breakthrough.
The more we walked, the more I remembered really loving this place as a kid. After all the birthday parties and field trips, why had I never thought to go back?
Our foray into the wild came to a close, though, when we’d lapped the same young family three times on the nature trail and filled our iPhones with daffodil photos.
Also, I had some returns to Banana and H&M that needed to be taken care of.
Later that night I told my family how much I had enjoyed the wildlife center, that maybe I should do things like that more often. It’s a good way to slow down, enjoy the weekend, and get away from the rush of the city.
“You should have come to the zoo with us, then. You should have run for the elephants.”
“Well, I wouldn’t go that far…”
I guess I put ideas in their heads, though, because tonight my sister approached me with another question.
“Are you going to do the run with us in October? I’m pretty sure there’s another Run For The Wild at the aquarium in Coney Island.”
A run for aquatic elephants?
Maybe, just maybe, I’ll consider it.