The last 30 something hours have been quite entertaining in Vietnam. First, I joined my friend Jess and her second gradeclass on a trip to Die Nam Zoo. I rode separately from my friend Jess, as some kids wanted to sit with her, and some wanted to sit with me to ask me “animal” questions. I was more than happy to talk animal talk to a bunch of kids, and sat between two of the students. Not even more than 20 minutes into the drive, the two kids I sat next started to talk about how they get car sick easily. I knew this was going to be an adventure. I kept talking to them, hoping that it would take their mind off the sickness. But then one got REALLY quiet. I kept trying to entertain her, but 15 minutes away from our destination, she got sick. She felt embarrassed and was about to cry. I just kept trying to cheer her up while I helped with clean up. She seemed fine once we got to Die Nam, but the whole day she was eating non-stop. The only thought in my head, “I”m not sitting next to this kid on the way back.” Might seem heartless, but wouldn’t you be thinking the same thing?
Die Nam was more than a zoo, it was a mini- theme park. It was absolutely huge! As we walked through I told the kids fun facts about the animals I knew, and of course gave a lesson on crocs when we got up to the Siamese Crocodile exhibit. It was great to see these kids so interested in crocodiles after I gave a talk to their school last week. It made my heart smile to know that these kids thought crocs were cool- mission accomplished! And my heart melted with the Sunbears, especially one who kept waving to the zoo patrons- so cute!!! My heart goes out to these bears as they are endangered due to old tales of the use of these bears for medicinal purposes. Many animals of this region have become endangered or extinct because of old beliefs for their use in medicine. Education and action are the only thing that will save these animals, so its so important to spread the word on the false notion of usage of animal parts to save animals from extinction, as well as to continue to educate about the importance of conservation of animals to ensure a balance of our environment. Its important to remember we ARE part of the environment, so anything we negatively do to the environment, whether directly or indirectly, will come right back to us. If not our generation, our children’s generation.
So last day in Vietnam and I headed to Monkey Island where monkeys are roaming around, trying to still food and bags from the tourists walking around. Not even within 5 minutes, I saw a monkey grab a man’s bag, then steal his son’s coke. The father chased him into the tree. It was quite amusing to see how these monkeys were reacting to people. I was lucky and didn’t get any mischief from the monkeys.
So after a lovely good-bye meal with my friend Jess, it was off to the airport where reality started to hit of me getting back into the grind of graduate school. I was doing some work while traveling the last couple of weeks, but it is now time to get focused, and get to wrapping up what I have left at school of alligatorparasites, and prepping myself for my last road trip across America from Los Angeles down to the Florida Everglades for my last sampling. Speaking of parasites, I wonder what I collected from this trip… I guess only time will tell.