Last night I attended an ASMP members-only event. We were permitted to bring a guest, and Christopher went with me. I couldn’t have stopped him from coming even if I wanted to. See, the event was a social one and it was held on Joan Embery’s ranch, just east of town.
Yes, that Joan Embery–the one who has been visiting the Tonight Show for, like, ever. The animal expert from the San Diego Zoo whom I remember watching for years with Johnny Carson (her first appearance was, I think, in 1971). I have no idea how old she must be now (do the math…60 maybe?), but she looks great except for a bit of extra weight (the photo is blurry and not flattering, but the light was fading so it was long-exposure time). Her face looks maybe 45-50ish, max, with lots of very real smiles. I think it’s from doing what she loves and getting to live with so many cool animals.
Speaking of the animals, we got to see several. There was a lovely Percheron horse who was about 18+ hands (6 foot+, at the shoulder) that you can see in this wide shot. Here’s a cropped image shot from across the yard, looking left from the previous shot–that’s the barn and, well, you just don’t expect to see this kind of butt in a barn door.
By the way, sorry for the occasionally blurry images. The sun was going down and I didn’t want to use flash much because of the animals. Anyway…
We also got to pet an aardvark (one of the oddest creatures out there–part pig, part opossum, part Darwin’s nightmare) and a Fennec Fox named Yoda. There were snakes and birds and even a baby armadillo (I’ve never seen a live one–this one ran around like a pinball!), and then they all went away. At that moment they brought out the special guest…a cheetah. We couldn’t pet the cheetah (darn) but it was a thrill just to be so close.
Later, I was near a table where Ms. Embery was speaking to one of the photographers and she mentioned a mountain lion in the barn. I ran to get Christopher, who adores cougars, and brought him to Ms. Embery, politely asking her to repeat herself. She said we could see Mugger the mountain lion by just going into the barn, and then she took us back there herself. At first Mugger was hiding, then he came out and Christopher took some pics of him. I like this one.
Oh, and in the barn we pet other horses and mules (the zebra, by this time, had gone outside–never did see the whole thing). Another Percheron was there and he kept forcing me to pet and scratch his HUGE head. I was in heaven with all the horse-y smell and sounds.
I may complain about living out here, but sometimes there are some really good things connected to San Diego living. This was definitely one of them.