ADOPT AN ANIMAL Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle!

Or an adoptive parent, rather. And not just for monkeys. The Cleveland zoo program has a variety of animals up for 'adoption.'
CLEVELAND -- My mother always said she wanted me to give her a grandchild.
Well, I guess her prayers have been answered.
The truth is, I'm pretty sure she had something entirely different in mind.
I recently became the proud adoptive mother of a colobus monkey, made possible by the Cleveland Zoological Society's Adopt an Animal program.
A good friend "adopted" the monkey on my behalf as a Christmas gift.
Visitation: So last week was Christmas in July for me as I toured Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and its Monkey Island in search of the primate I could call my own. (Although in this case, "my own" refers to me and several hundred other people. I don't even have exclusive rights. Instead, the zoo has arranged the sort of custody arrangement that allows others to share my monkey.)
Anyhow, it was the park's annual Zoo Parents' Night, an after-hours party to honor adoptive parents.
The zoo was closed for the private event as the "parents" and their guests took advantage of the many freebies, including admission to the zoo and its RainForest, live music, face painting, a chance to feed the birds and seals, puppet shows, and a free ride on the Boomerang Railroad.
Kim Conrad, program coordinator for Adopt an Animal, said 1,900 people are currently registered as zoo parents to more than 50 different species of animals.
What's available: You too can join the zoo family, which includes wolves, cheetahs, chimpanzees, giraffes, gorillas, clouded leopards, donkeys, elephants, grizzly bears, kangaroos, koala bears, polar bears, lemurs, zebras, tigers, lions, seals, orangutans, piranhas, tortoises, baboons, and bald eagles and other birds.
As zoo parents, you'll get a nifty adoption certificate from the zoological society, a fun fact sheet about the animal you adopt, a picture of it, and recognition on the zoo's Web page.
These benefits cost $35 for what zoo officials call the basic, one-year "share and care" package.
Upgrading to amounts of $50, $75, $100, $250, $500 and $1,000 warrants additional benefits which could include an invitation to Zoo Parents Night, complimentary passes to the zoo, T-shirts and a meet-and-greet with your animal's keeper.
Purpose: The program is in its 10th year at the zoo, intended to provide the best possible care and environment for the animals, zoo officials say.
For more information, or to join the zoo family, call Conrad at (216) 661-6500, Ext. 4440, or visit on the Web.
The zoo has much to offer, whether you decide to adopt animals or just visit with them.
Attractions: Cool areas to check out include Northern Trek, with polar bears, tigers, grizzly bears, seals and giraffes; Primate, Cat & amp; Aquatics, with baboons, fish in a Pacific Coral Reef tank, gorillas and spotted leopards; The RainForest, with birds, orangutans, snakes, crocodiles, turtles, an ant farm and bats; Wolf Wilderness; Australian Adventure, with kangaroos and Koala/GumLeaf Hideout, where the koalas frolic in eucalyptus trees; and of course, Monkey Island.
My mom did not make the trip to see our family's newest arrival.
Truth is, I "forgot" to tell her the good news, fearing her disappointment when I finished the sentence "You're going to be a grandma."
So anyhow, Mom, Congratulations!
It's a ... monkey.

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