February 9, 2009

Curious About Quetzals

A few weeks ago the beautiful weather was calling us to put away our books and go ahead tie the loose ends on our rain forest study. The only thing we had to do was go to the local zoo and take pictures of the birds that call South America their home and put into our lapbooks.

Mabry's only request: find a quetzal, please

I had never even heard of this splendid bird before our study. And that's a shame--everyone in the world needs to experience this beauty:

(Image lifted from the gorgeous pictures at http://www.natureslorephotography/.)

As we made our way through the zoo, we snapped some shots of a parrot:

and a toucan:

and this magnificent blue crowned pigeon (wish our city pigeons looked like this):

But no quetzals.

Mabry was sad, sullen and downright grumpy. While she was thankful for all the beautiful birds we had seen, she refused to smile for the customary family photo. Her day was ruined. And so was ours because she had not seen a quetzal.

I jokingly offered her a glimmer of hope: why don't you write the zookeeper to see if he can go catch a quetzal for you and the rest the state to see?

Her cantankerous countenance returned to the upright position as she, much to my potential embarrassment, penned a letter:

Dear Zookeeper,
I think you need some quetzals. If you do not know, quetzals live in the South American rainforests. They are all kinds of different colors. They have red feathers and green feathers and blue feathers too. Will you consider catching one and putting in the zoo? We would love to see one.

We perfected her rough draft over the course of few days, and she finished it off with an illustration of her favorite bird--just in case the zookeeper needed to know what it looked like, she said.
Three days later, Mabry received a reply:

Dear Mabry,

Thank you very much for your letter suggesting that the zoo get a quetzal. Your drawing of a quetzal is very nice. I really like the colors.

There are some animals that are difficult to keep in zoos and I am afraid that quetzals fit into that category. In fact, there are no quetzals in captivity. Since we only try to keep animals that will thrive in the zoo I doubt that we will ever have them. So I'm afraid that you may have to enjoy them through books and maybe television...

The letter continues with a personal story of when the zoo's director visited Costa Rica and saw a real, live quetzal.

So now my Mabes understands that she'll never see a quetzal at our zoo and I'm as thrilled as a mama can be that a busy executive took the time to affirm my daughter's love for animals and explained away her disappointment as only a zookeeper can. Of course, now I have to figure out a way to get Mabry to Costa Rica...


AnyEdge said...

What beautiful birds! I am a parrot lover myself, and finding these gorgeous pictures made my day!

Merritt Pace said...

Way to go, Mabry! You guys do such fun things. Melinda, you are a born teacher!

Are you sure that your degree is not in Elementary Education?

Molly said...

Come on down! :o)

Jennifer said...

I am so happy that Mabry took the initiative to write that letter, and that the kind zookeeper took the time to write her back. What a wonderful experience!

ricanatheart said...

Dear Mabry and Melinda,
We wanted you to know how helpful you blog about the Quetzal bird was to us.My daughter Cheyenne(10) is writing a report on the Quetzal bird and we had searched the internet for hours trying to find out if there are any Quetzal's in captivity before we came across your story.This was very important to us and you provided the answer.I wanted you to know and to say Thank You.I think that the Quetzal is the most beautiful bird in the world.Best Wishes,Cheyenne and Mary(from So.California)