The Baltimore Zoo
Working at the Baltimore Zoo was the best real job I ever had. Writing is not a real, real job — you don’t punch a clock and the paychecks are very irregular.
As a zoo illustrator, my job was to draw portraits of the animals. Sometimes that meant climbing into a cage or enclosure and sitting until the animal got quiet enough to draw.
This did not include climbing in with animals that had fangs or sharp canines; nothing that could kill with a single bite.
I also painted the murals on the back walls of the display cages in the Reptile House when the building was closed to the public.
Why was it closed? Feeding day.
While I painted the walls in one tank, in the tank to my left a boa would be swallowing a rabbit, and in the tank to my right a python was squeezing a rat.
I painted, my neighbors digested.
The zoo job was exciting for another reason. Along with meeting many animals I met my future husband, the zoo photographer, Ray Faass.
His zoo adventures included being picked up by the head in the mouth of a slobbery camel, and having his camera break his nose when a goat rammed it (he thought that goat looked awfully close in the view finder).