Years ago during one of my brother’s visits we bought some modeling clay and, on the back porch, sitting at the fisher-price plastic picnic table, made little animals and creatures with my girls. It was a lot of fun. One reason being that the girls, who were really young at the time, were tickled with each little thing we made. My brother especially enjoyed making his little animals and dinosaurs detailed using toothpicks to draw smiles, poke pupils in eyes, add finishing touches. We must have played that way for a couple of hours, enjoying giggles and squishing the gooey colorful clay together. Having such an approving, eager audience just compelled us to make more for them, just for fun, just because we loved them.
Last week I was able to visit the Columbus Zoo with my parents on a hot, sunny day. I love going to the zoo. I never tire of watching animals, reptiles, birds, dolphins, seals, you name it. They are fascinating. I am always amazed at the creativity and ingenuity of God and how he thought up each one, fashioning them himself down to the minute details. And why did God give many of them personality? Some of them are so playful.
There’s a new polar bear exhibit there and it was one of my favorites. On ground level you could stand by a short glass wall and watch the bears lay on the rocks, pad around their habitat, or swim in the water, sometimes playing with big empty plastic barrels while they splashed around. Underground was an alcove surrounded by 5-inch thick glass that jutted into the bottom of the pool where the bears swam. We stood and “ooed” and “aaahed” as they swam right over our heads and around us. All of the sudden complete strangers were friends watching the show, unified in wonder. I loved hearing the little girls by the window at one point squealing and pointing as a bear swam right down next to them, just on the other side of the glass. At one point, one of the bears actually stood on the glass over our heads and looked down at us. They seemed as interested in us as we were in them.
Otters are fun to watch, too. They have so much energy! There were three little ones swimming around with their parents, their streamlined bodies perfect for gliding through the water effortlessly. We saw a little pure white arctic fox and spotted bobcats and enormous tigers resting with giant, velvet paws outstretched, their furry sides slowly rising and falling with each sleepy breath. We watched brilliant rainbow-colored lorikeets eat nectar with little black tongues from plastic cups held by kids in an aviary. One of the lorikeets started this cool head-bobbing, disco-style dance in front of another one. We guessed he was flirting with her and found out we were right. I wish I had it on video – it was hilarious.
I think God must love hanging out around zoos because he sees his kids take delight in all sorts of creatures he’s made for them. He could have made one type of animal or made them all gray and boring but He didn’t. He could have made them all dangerous and scary but he didn’t. Even the snakes, which aren’t my favorite, are beautiful in their own way with their scales laid out in intricate patterns and varied colors. We saw some funny-looking critters, too. One fish had a finger-like protrusion sticking out of the front of his face, called the “unicorn fish”. There was a duck with a white head and blue beak, a turtle with markings on his underbelly that looked like a smiley face, and more. God must love to hear us laugh, knowing what He’s made brings us joy and interests us so. I can almost hear Him say, “just wait until you see what I’ve made over here!”
It’s one of the ways He loves us, all these thousands of types of creatures great and small. I haven’t even mentioned flowers and trees, or butterflies and bugs, or sunsets, snowflakes and rainbows. What a loving, artsy, genius God we serve.
What a wildly wonderful world, God!
You made it all, with Wisdom at your side,
made earth overflow with your wonderful creations. Psalm 104:24 The Msg