Animal Behavior Bingo is the gift that keeps on giving long after you’ve left the zoo. Heck, it’s quite the gift before you even leave home. Before going to the zoo, print out this bingo card and let your imagination run wild about what you might see (or hope to see) the animals doing when you get there. If your family hasn’t really left the house in a while and can’t remember what to see or do at the zoo, plan ahead by announcing the list of behaviors on the card and recording their reactions. Here’s what happened when I announced these behaviors to the Fixin’ Leaks and Leeks Team. Their observed reactions are in the right-hand column:
Animal Behavior: Observed Reaction:
–Smelling –Outright laughter
–Sleeping –No reaction
–Climbing –Slight reaction
–Eating –Random ideas for lunch
–Drinking –Internet search for zoo-inspired drinks
Once you get to the zoo, be prepared to be flexible. There are behaviors you will see that are not on the bingo card. Do not let this throw you. Play on anyway. Add boxes as you go. Examples:
–Whoo-whooing: Something big and feathered and gray—a Malay Great Argus—makes this sound, and this come-hither call is not just reserved for other feathered gray things. The Malay Great Argus is making this sound at you, me, anyone, which means it may be itching to snuggle. So, you could maybe cross snuggling off your list if you want to be an Animal Behavior Bingo purist.
–Fighting: A couple of flamingos started to fight—their beaks flying, their long necks twisting. Of course, a real animal behavior specialist might disagree with this assessment. Perhaps they were doing one of the following things: downing shots at the bar, playing “poke the bear,” discussing a trip insurance plan that’s 900 pages long.
–Farting: A big shout-out to Nate for discovering this animal behavior that I would have completely missed. A steady stream of bubbles shot out the backside of a penguin, which was swimming (also not an activity listed on the bingo card).
–Hiding: Most of the animals were hiding, or maybe they had their own bingo cards and were observing us from above. The dads were especially interesting to observe at the zoo. We witnessed at least three dads really laying down the law—vocalizing in the following ways:
Dad 1: Jimmy, I’ve watched you walk in front of other people, like a million times without saying you’re sorry. If you do it again, you will be last in line to see anything. I mean it!
Dad 2: Maxwell, you keep getting in front of the stroller, and I can’t push it without running you over. When you see the handlebars here, you’re safe, behind the stroller. If you see the wheels behind you, you’re not safe. You’re going to get run over.
Dad 3: Sally, I’ve told you to get back here and hold my hand, don’t make me strap you to your stroller again!
When you’ve filled out your bingo card, there’s no need to be disappointed or sad because the fun is not over. The card can be reused and applied to almost any outing where you’re not sure what to expect. Pre-planning can help eliminate anxieties as you start to navigate the world a little more. Going to an outdoor restaurant? What might you observe people doing? Snuggling? Playing? How about the beach? Exploring? Whoo-whooing? A book-club meeting in the backyard? Climbing? Drinking?
In other words, everyone “wins” at this game. Everyone. You get to see and observe so much more than you expected.
Your Turn: What behaviors have you observed/seen “out in the wild?” What behaviors would you add to your bingo card?