Suggesting that his appearance would promote California tourism, Gov. George Deukmejian visited the San Diego Wild Animal Park on Friday. Never mind that this particular tourist wore a suit-and-tie and didn't have a camera.
Indeed, his entire visit was a "guess-what's-wrong-with-this-picture" sort of outing.
For starters, he arrived 30 minutes late. When he arrived, he was whisked to the park's "condorminium" enclosure to view the condors through one-way glass and by video monitors.
While the VIPs were at the condorminium, the press was trucked inside the East Africa enclosure and bided its time by feeding eucalyptus branches to giraffes.
When the governor's party finally showed up, the giraffes still seemed more interested in the media's eucalyptus leaves than the governor's carrots. He dangled them and dangled them, but they ignored him. "Does someone know a giraffe call?" someone muttered on the governor's truck. No one did. Deukmejian remained standing in a truck dangling carrots. He hardly said a word. A giraffe made a move toward his wife, Gloria, and she beamed. Finally, a giraffe took the governor's carrots. Everyone sighed.
Next it was on to the Australian rain forest.
Park officials wanted to make sure the laughing Kookaburra bird would laugh on cue for the governor, so someone was planted in the trees with a tape-recording of a different Kookaburra laughing its head off, presumably to elicit laughter from \o7 this \f7 particular bird.
But a grass fire erupted down the road a few miles, and the fellow with the tape recorder had to leave his post and get to the park's hospital in case any animals had to be evacuated. So, there was no one to play the tape recorder, and the Kookaburra wasn't laughing when the governor strode up.
Somehow, the word spread in the group that the bird would laugh at\o7 any \f7 tape recording, so Deputy Press Secretary Kevin Brett pulled a tape recorder out of his jacket and played a recording of a recent press conference. The Kookaburra still didn't laugh. The party moved on.
Finally, Betty Jo Williams, president of the Zoological Society of San Diego, thanked Deukmejian for his interest in tourism, and presented him with a carving of a giraffe. The park people brought the carving up from the San Diego Zoo's gift shop earlier that morning and had glued it to a nice wooden base. On the car trip to the San Pasqual Valley, the glue melted in the heat and the giraffe separated from its base. Someone reglued it just before it was given to the governor. But they didn't tell him to keep it out of the sun.
"The work being done here . . . is all going to be very, very helpful for California and mankind as a whole," Deukmejian said of the Wild Animal Park. "It was a fun day for us."
His two-hour visit to the animal reserve was followed later by a meeting with North County newspaper editors and a private campaign fund-raising party at the Rancho Santa Fe home of attorney Roger Woolley.