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Sep 19, 2017

Monreith Animal World is a small petting zoo that is just down the road from my father's house in Scotland. When I was visiting him in August, we decided to go there for a day out. My daughter is an animal-lover, so she jumped at the chance(1) to go. It was a beautiful, breezy, sunny day, so the animals were visible and active. My father and step-mother chatted with the owner when we first arrived, so Domini and I ran ahead, down the allotted(2) path that took us past all of the cages, pens, and ponds where the animals live. The petting zoo has rare species including animals which are endangered. The tour begins with unusual rabbits, chickens, and ducks, eventually leading to bigger animals like alpaca and miniature donkeys and ponies. We were able to stroke the donkeys on their long snouts, but the alpacas didn't look very friendly, so we stayed away from them. As we circled back to the entry, we went past bizarre looking turkeys and chickens, and then we saw him, - a magnificent eagle owl, alone in his large wooden cage, staring at us with gorgeous orange eyes. He must have been about two and a half feet tall. The brown, black, and cream pattern on his body was excellent camouflage for the forest and high mountains. His ears were black and stuck up at either side adding to his serious look of frowning. But it was his eyes that stole the show(3). They looked like orange topaz with a black center. Every now and then he would blink. Owls have three eyelids: one for blinking, one for sleeping, and one for protection. And whenever he would blink, it was like someone turning a light off and then on again. His wing and tail feathers were neatly tucked behind him like a cloak. Apparently, the larger females have a wingspan of up to 6'2". They are effective, nocturnal hunters that can silently swoop down on their prey, grabbing even young deer. Their talons are long and sharp, and their body mass is muscular. I would say that this Eurasian owl is the crowning glory of the petting zoo. I think only a golden eagle would be more impressive.

1. 'To jump at the chance' is to seize an opportunity.

a. They were going to Montana and there was room for one more person in the car, so I jumped at the chance.

b. If I can ever go to Russia, I will jump at the chance.

c. A sausage fell on the floor and the dog jumped at the chance to have a quick snack.

2. 'Allotted' is similar to 'allocated'. It also means something that is designed or given specifically for a certain place or purpose.

a. You have fifteen minutes allotted for a break half way through the exam.

b. The money in that account is allotted for the annual vacation.

c. In the chicken farm, each bird was allotted its own cage where it would spend most of its time.

3. 'To steal the show' means to have most of the attention.

a. He stole the show with his acrobatics.

b. The new baby stole the show at the family dinner.

c. The bride stole the show in her amazing wedding dress.