The Oakland Zoo was so cheerful it converted me forever

I didn't go to the zoo expecting to fall in love with the camels, yet here I am.

Video Transcript

ALIX MARTICHOUX: Heading out today. I have the best assignment in the newsroom. I'm going to the Oakland Zoo.

Beautiful day for a zoo visit. They're going to show us some behind the scenes stuff that most visitors don't get to see, and I'll show you.

Hi! Is this our ride for the day?

- This is our ride.

- Is this a good time?

- I'm just eating lunch.

- OK. Get a picture of her eating lunch.

- Here, we have Bahir. He's the only male. And then we have Zahara, Layla, and Sabah.

Green. They like salad.

ALIX MARTICHOUX: Hello, friend.

- So Zahara and Sabah and Layla, they really like bananas and pumpkins and all sorts of stuff. But Bahir always says, give me the salad. The buckets. And we don't say that they're sweet, we don't say that they're mean, we just know that they have a range. But you know, camels are very smart, charming animals.

ALIX MARTICHOUX: They're pretty cool. I feel like I love camels now.

- You don't think you come to the zoo to see the camels, but you fall in love with them when you're here.

ALIX MARTICHOUX: Hi, I'm Alix.

JESSICA: Hi, I'm Jessica.

ALIX MARTICHOUX: Nice to meet you.

JESSICA: Nice to meet you.

ALIX MARTICHOUX: Oh, someone's waiting for us.

JESSICA: Oh, always.

ALIX MARTICHOUX: Who's this?

JESSICA: So this is Mabusu. His name, Mabusu, means kisses in Swahili.

ALIX MARTICHOUX: That's very apt.

JESSICA: Yeah. This is actually his daughter, Maggie. Hey, Mags.

ALIX MARTICHOUX: Nice to meet you, Maggie.

JESSICA: She was born here. And she turned nine in January.

ALIX MARTICHOUX: Maggie is a much more delicate eater.

JESSICA: She is a little less intense. Mabusu has a very aggressive tongue, I would say, when feeding. But Maggie is very sweet.

ALIX MARTICHOUX: There's Kijiji.

JESSICA: Yeah.

ALIX MARTICHOUX: Come say hi.

JESSICA: And Kijiji means village in Swahili. And she's really confident. She does not get very nervous. She's very curious. She gets along with everyone. She gets into antics, though, for sure. Any other juvenile would.

ALIX MARTICHOUX: Whoa!

JESSICA: I like to refer to that as the splash zone.

ALIX MARTICHOUX: Oh, my. Well, bye.

JESSICA: Well, that's you being a big guy.

ALIX MARTICHOUX: Well, bye, everyone.

I'm standing inside the baboon exhibit. The zookeepers are setting up food, hiding it all over the place. So that when the baboons get released, they go on a little treasure hunt. But they're going to get me out of here first, so that I don't get too behind the scenes and too involved.

- You'll see, when I open the door, all 15 will come flying out at once.

ALIX MARTICHOUX: Thank you. Thank you.

- Have a nice ride.

ALIX MARTICHOUX: Thank you.

How do you not just stand here all day?

- These behaviors do have a purpose behind them. It's not just tricks or something like that. We're using the ball targets to be able to help to direct their bodies and be able to put them in positions where we can look at them really well. The old paws, while it looks like a high five, is actually so we can check their feet. Make sure that they've got healthy pads and everything's working well.

And then [? Kuoma ?] and-- and actually all three of our cats are trained for voluntary injections, so that we can actually give them vaccines without having to dart them. So it's much less scary for them, which makes it a lot easier for us, too.

ALIX MARTICHOUX: Great day. What a great day inside behind the scenes. I can't imagine a better assignment than that.