After much anticipation, I was happily driving to Cynthia Moss’ lecture at the Oakland Zoo tonight. It was rush hour, but I had planned on traffic. What I didn’t plan on was getting rear-ended and sustaining a mild case of whiplash. I also didn’t plan on the other driver saying she was going to pull over, but then fleeing the scene. Shook up a bit, I called my insurance company to report it, then made the decision that I wasn’t going to let it ruin my night.
Photo ©2006 Jaya Savannah.
When I finally arrived at the zoo, there was a nice courtyard full of people browsing around the auction tables. There was a lot of elephant art, books, and animal knick knacks. I’m not into the kitschy elephant stuff, but there was ONE really cool auction item: A private safari dinner for 8 in the elephant area of the Oakland Zoo! I don’t know what got into me, but once I pictured how fun it would be too take my family and friends, there was no way I couldn’t at least make a bid. Most of them will never go to Africa with me. So why not dinner? I impulsively wrote my name down with a $700 bid. I can’t believe I did that!
Cynthia’s lecture was inside the educational center. All the seats were filled with a bunch of elephant-lovers intent on hearing about her 30-years of research in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park. She started there with Iain Douglas-Hamilton when she was 27 years old (you do the math.) We were treated to a slideshow introducing us to some of the elephant families she has studied over the years, along with some interesting stories about how the conservationists have to negotiate with the Masai tribes to keep them from killing elephants. More Amboseli elephants die from conflicts with the Masai than die from poaching. After the lecture, I was able to meet with Cynthia briefly for a book signing. Then I asked if I could take her picture so I could share it with you.
Afterwards, the auction tables were still buzzing, but no one had out-bid me yet! I kept an eye on it all night long, while I mingled a little bit with Chris Allen. She’s the elephant-loving educational department volunteer who put the Celebrating Elephants event together (now in it’s 10th year.) Chris convinced me that I really must go to the special Dining with the Elephants event tomorrow night, saying that all my new elephant philanthropist friends would be there! So I signed on and bought my ticket. Now, I’m really wondering if I’m also going to be writing a big check for that auction prize! But wouldn’t you know it…at the very last minute before the auction was closed, a local matriarch signed her name and out-bid me. I’m just a “mini-matriarch,” so I wished her a great time, even though I was a little disappointed. She said that, “We go every year.” So now I know the deal: bid at the last-minute, and the matriarch always gets to go first. I’m good with that. Someday, I’ll be her.