Dear Zoo Momma:

Congratulations on your new arrival! Such a blessing, and, whoa, what a story! It’s not everyone who can say they gave birth at a zoo.

There are a few things I’d like to say in relation to your child’s dramatic entrance into this world.

  1. You stole my non-existence spotlight. That’s right – I tried to induce labor with two of my children by walking the hills of the Henry Doorly Zoo. I couldn’t do it, but you were able to accomplish what I couldn’t. I’m a little jealous. Just a little. I wonder how many other pregnant mommas ask themselves if they’ll go into labor at the zoo?
  2. The media needs to come up with a great headline. I mean, “Woman gives birth while visiting zoo” is fine, but it could have been lots more fun. When I was planning my zoo births, I came up with things like “Animals witness birth of rare human cub” or “Monkeys go ape over human birth.” You had yours near the bear enclosure, so maybe “Bears bear witness to woman bearing child”?
  3. At least you weren’t on camera. It seems to be the thing for zoos to have a live camera for many of their births. But you snuck under their radar and managed to do it without a live audience of 1.2 million. 
  4. Timing. I don’t know if you were approaching your due date. I was 38-41 weeks along when I made multiple attempts to induce labor with my two pregnancies. Were you expecting to go into labor? Were you weeks early and completely unprepared? The bear enclosure was a good spot. There were several caves to choose from or the covered picnic area if you wanted privacy, or right in front of the polar bear tank if privacy wasn’t an issue for you. There is this: you couldn’t plan that kind of timing!
  5. You deserve free zoo passes. Well, at least for you and the kid. You did all the work, and the kid is the center of attention. I mean, the #1 zoo in the nation couldn’t ask for better publicity, could it?

So I don’t know if, like me, you were laughing and joking about giving birth at the zoo. I don’t know if you were thinking of funny headlines and your 15 minutes of imagined fame. I’m pretty certain you weren’t expecting to give birth at the zoo. You probably had a hospital, doctor, and an overnight bag all ready to go. I hope you were able to laugh at your circumstances soon after the fact. Years from now, your child will be able to weave quite the story to entertain friends.

Just don’t name the kid Tarzan.

Jessica McCaslin

Jessica is a mom who is working outside the home part-time and who is learning to cope with the ever-changing daily challenges of full-time parenthood. She graduated with her Master's degree in community counseling from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2005, and works with a diverse mental health population. Jessica resides in Central Nebraska with her husband and four children on the family ranch.