We finally felt that we owed it to Simon to do something just for him. He still has an upset tummy, but we thought a morning at the Chiang Mai Zoo was just what he needed. And we were right.
The zoo is located on the outskirts of Chiang Mai at the base of a small mountain, and the zoo itself is sprawled up the hillside. They have a bus and monorail system to help you get around, which was a lifesaver given the heat and the tenuous health status of my fellow travelers.
Our first great find was the hippos. There were 3 enormous hippos lounging in the shade. Their enclosure was such that we could almost touch them, a little scary given that they are one of the deadliest animals in the world. Our first bit of excitement came when one of them took a poop. It reminded me of that book, Everyone Poops, where they have a picture of a hippo swatting its own poo with its tail. It was pretty disgusting, and I am just glad that he wasn't much closer or it could have been a disaster! If I've really got you curious, check this out.
At the other end of an enclosure we discovered a group high school students feeding the hippos! Of course we ran over to join. They had a huge bucket of potatoes, which I believe they purchased there. They immediately handed Simon a handful of potatoes and we started lobbing them into their waiting mouths. They waited with their enormous jaws propped wide open, reveling their huge canine teeth and sharp incisors. Yikes! It was totally fascinating and no doubt my best zoo experience ever. I can't imagine such a setup would ever fly in the US, as there was very little separating us and we could anyone could easily reach over the enclosure and be alarmingly close to those deadly guys.