The Cuddly Hubby and I attended last night's special members' preview of Boundless Budgies: A Parakeet Adventure, which is the new exhibit at ZooAtlanta. We've had higher level memberships at the High Museum and Atlanta Botanical Garden, but I can tell you that few institutions roll out the red carpet for you like ZooAtlanta. A $200 Safari level membership is well worth it. If you care about conservation, remember that not only does ZooAtlanta give you a great family experience, but the zoo works with our universities here in Georgia to conduct research that aids both captive and wild populations.
Last night James Ballance, who is the primary curator for birds, was in attendance and answering questions. Also attending was zoo CEO Dennis Kelly. James has a tremendous enthusiasm for what he does, and a winsome British accent that makes you want him to keep talking. Thank you to Dennis for being good management, and to James and the rest of the birds and small mammals team for a great job in putting together a fabulous experience. I don't know the names of any of the people in these pictures, but they were all having a great time!
In the photo at the top, you can see a young man feeding a budgie. For $1 you buy a stick with a little bit of birdseed on the end of it. Then you stand in an aviary with 500 birds, you hold out your stick, and you wait for a bird to come eat. I've purposely not cropped out the background on this photo, so that you can see the flock in the trees and all the people leaning to feed them.
Notice that most of these are adults. I believe the lady in the background of this picture may have been with the gentleman holding the parakeet, but I'm not certain. There's something delightful about seeing grown ups enjoying such a simple experience. I really like the contrast here between the big man and the little one ounce bird.
Here's another adult with a bird. Notice that this budgie is almost white. At first you think that 500 parakeets would all be the same, that you already know what a parakeet looks like, but as you look closely, you'll see subtle differences. Some are green with yellow heads and blue tails. Some are more blue or turquoise with white. And a few seem to have some very interesting genetic codes. I'm certain I saw a yellow one with little periwinkle spots on its jaws.
And here's the money shot at the end. I have no idea who this little girl is, but you can see she and her parents were having a wonderful time. Makes me want to go dig out the Mary Poppins soundtrack and listen to "Feed the Birds." Sometimes it helps to remember that many of the simple pleasures in life really are amongst the best. As always, I can heartily recommend a day at ZooAtlanta if you need a little cheer. Two thumbs way up!