Yesterday was a beautiful day, weather-wise, and Christine asked if we wanted to go the zoo. The last time we went to the zoo was back in July 2009, and it was definitely a memorable trip. It was hot, crowded . . . and my wallet got stolen. My pregnant sister-in-law was out visiting with Emily, and the next day she had to watch my 7 kids (Nathan had just turned 12, and Faith was 5 months old) while Bob and I ran around trying to get replacement ID cards for Nathan, Luke, and me (because they were all in my wallet, which seemed like a good idea at the time, lol), as well as a new driver's license. And then in September we found out new credit card accounts had been opened in my name, but fortunately Chase sent us a letter, so we were able to close them, but then in January 2010 . . . I got a letter from the Penn Credit Corporation that was alarming:
We are writing to inform you that sensitive personally indentifiable information about you was accessed without authorization by two employees of Penn Credit Corporation . . . Once we learned of this incident, we ended the employment of both individuals. Please be aware that the Manhattan District Attorney's Office is actively investigating this matter . . . In late October 2009 we were contacted by representatives from the Manhatten District Attorney's office concerning an ongoing identity theft scheme perpetuated by a group of individuals, including our former employees. A member of the group with no connection to Penn Credit would contact our two employees after acquiring personal information taken from pick-pocketed wallets. The employees would then, without authorization, use Penn Credit's computer resource to access the social security numbers and other personally indentifying information . . . Contrary to our company policy, those individuals would then share that information with the individual who contacted them. This individual, working with others in the scheme, would ultimately add this data to the information they had previously acquired so that they could conduct fraudulent banking transactions . . .
I was eventually contacted by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office to say I might need to go there to testify in the trial because my information was the first that they matched up with this gang of criminals, and it helped catch them. Whee! The main guy ended up taking a plea bargain, so I did not have to go to NY for the trial, but not too long ago I did get a letter stating he was up for parole, and that I could send in a letter saying why I didn't think he should be released! I did not, but anyway . . . you can probably see why I have been more than happy to never set foot in the National Zoo again in 7 1/2 years.
But we went yesterday, except for Luke. We left early, so parking was a breeze, and the zoo was so wonderfully not crowded. The weather was just so beautiful--high in the mid-70s--so that was very enjoyable as well. We got to hear a tiger roar (?). I don't know if that's what you call it, lol. It sort of sounded like he had just woken up, and his voice was froggy! Faith's favorite animals were the tigers.
I found the small mammal house to be the most interesting, especially the naked mole rats. I remember seeing them before (and I remembered how incredibly ugly they are!), but this time I read that they do not get cancer! Also, they live to be about 30 years old, but they never appear to age (someone commented that's because they already look old and wrinkly, lol). So researchers are hoping to learn about these characteristics and maybe figure out how to use them to stop cancer in humans, which would be so wonderful.
At one point, I was talking to another mom, and we missed the right-hand turnoff where the rest of the group had gone. Micah and Drew were ahead of us with some of the other kids, and we were on a path looking down on the path by the sea lions and otters, instead of down there, where we actually wanted to be. We turned around, and then turned left onto the path. When we got to the first place you can look underwater to see the animals swimming around, I didn't see Drew. I asked around, but none of the older kids had him. We wondered if he might have been with Christine and her group that had been ahead of us, but I knew he had *just* been ahead of me on the upper path, so there was no way he was with her. Some of the kids ran ahead to look in the other little overhanging places. Caleb and I went back up to the higher path, and Caleb ran down that one a ways. I looked around fruitlessly for someone to ask for help. Eventually Caleb came back and went the other way on the path, back up where we had originally come from. It was only a few minutes more before he texted me to say he had found him, which was an incredible relief. Drew had apparently missed the turnoff the second time and wandered on up the path. Eventually he did realize no one he recognized was around, so he sat down on a ledge by a glass wall looking into the wolf exhibit. A lady with her 3 kids saw him sitting there, and she called the park police. She waited there with him for a few minutes, and then Caleb came by. I rushed on over as soon as I got Caleb's text, and we all waited around, since theoretically, the police were on their way. We waited for almost 10 more minutes, and then we all finally started walking back towards where the rest of our group was. The other lady was super nice, and we had a nice conversation. I was just so immensely relieved that I didn't really care about anything anymore, although I was a bit perturbed that the police had not responded sooner? I guess there are probably a zillion lost kids on crowded summer days, but still . . . it did not inspire confidence. Eventually, as we were walking we saw a park policeman sauntering up the path. We told him that if he was responding to the little boy who was lost, he had been reunited, and the policeman said great and walked on. So that was that, but it definitely gave me several more gray hairs and probably took a few years off my life!