It took five days for Kellan to nail his first victim, but after a short, steep learning curve, it was open season. You can bellow "GENTLE, DAMMIT!" at a six-year-old till you drop of anoxia without noticeable effect. Actually, the "DAMMIT" part only crept in after the first couple of enthusiastic captures ended with anoles winging their way to their lizard reward, however inadvertently. I got so I could snap off a "G-D" without skipping a conversational beat.
The new owners of nearby Busch Gardens are masters of protecting their critters from my critter and his ilk. Tall fences and moats and glass walls are generally effective against the most determined first-grader. Languid gators, protected from Kellan only by a few feet of wrought iron, seemed to ponder vigilante retribution for their tiny brethren. Kellan was ready: "Look! A 'NOTHER lizard." GENTLE DAMMIT.
I was relieved to move on to still larger critters and astonished to see several tons of bull rhino clambering over a big rock trying to get at our little boy. Anoles have friends in large places, apparently. I've never seen a rhino so frantic to get over a rock. Beady eyes rolled in their peculiar rhino sockets, accompanied by snorting and muted frothing. A park rhino keeper witnessed the scene with jarring calm.
Me: Why does your rhino want to trample my little boy?
Keeper: Our rhinos are all very friendly and would not hurt your little boy, even if he were a vicious anole assassin.
Me: How did you . . .
Keeper: Actually, our rhino is not trying to charge your grandson at all.
Me: How do you . . .
Keeper: Take a good look at the rock Ralph is mounting.
Me: Oh. Mounting.
Keeper: Ralph and that big rock are engaged.
Me: . . .
Keeper: Have a nice day. And your grandson.
I looked again at Ralph. GENTLE DAMMIT! I steered Kellan toward the next Dippin' Dots stand.