DEAR ABBY: I got a big kick out of all the adults who responded to your “truth at the zoo” column. As they say, “out of the mouths of babes” come the most truthful responses.

When my daughter was quite young, I also took her to the zoo. My daughter was very intelligent, but on that occasion she surprised even me. It was mating season, and we were viewing the peacocks. A young mother and her little boy were standing near us when the boy asked his mom why the peacocks were saying, “Now! Now!” (That’s what it sounded like!) The mother blushed and gave her son some lame reason. My daughter chimed in, “The birds with the pretty feathers are the boys, and they want to make babies. They want to do it NOW!” – MOM IN TAMPA

DEAR MOM: What a hoot! I can’t believe it, but I’m still getting mail about the column. It seems that not only do kids “say the darndest things” – so do their parents. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: At a county fair last year, my husband and I were at the rabbit exhibit, and I overheard a mother explain to her child that what the bunnies were doing (read amorous pastime) was called “getting married.” While technically incorrect, I thought that mother had a firm grip on family values. (I also hoped she’d explain things more clearly at the proper time and place.) I think it was a wonderful way to start the teaching and learning process of the birds and the bees. That mother seemed to be on track, and I was proud to have witnessed it. I still smile when I remember the encounter. – MOTHER IN BUNKER HILL

DEAR ABBY: Can you stand one more story about the zoo? When my granddaughter Gabi was 2 1/2, my daughter took her to the zoo. She was pointing out the animals, and when they got to the cows, my daughter said, “Gabi, look at the one over there, the one with the horns. That’s a boy cow!” Gabi looked up at her mother and said, “Mama, that’s a bull!” Never underestimate children. They may surprise you. – PROUD GRANDMA, MELBOURNE, FLA.

DEAR ABBY: I served as a zoo docent for 15 years, giving tours and taking zoo animals into classrooms for lectures. When asked a tough question, we were taught to say, “I don’t know, but I will find out and get back to you with the answer.” We would always take a name, phone number or address, and be sure that the question was answered correctly.

One day, we actually heard a docent tell a class that an ostrich will “hide” by putting his/her head in the sand. (Not true!) After that, we had a standing joke: A male ostrich was chasing a female ostrich, but she was doing a great job of staying just out of his reach. She abruptly turned a corner and stuck her head in the sand. The male turned the same corner, hot on her heels, but stopped dead in his tracks, uttering the immortal words, “Where did she go?” – JOAN IN RIVERTON, UTAH

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I were both “city kids.” When our boys were 4 and 5, we took them to the county fair. In the cow barn, the oldest asked his dad what the difference was between a cow and a bull.

He answered: The bulls have horns (much to the merriment of the farmer sitting on the fence).

A few years later, we moved to a farming community and lived a block away from a cattle farmer. Again we attended the county fair.

Walking along, my son pulled his dad aside and whispered in his ear: “Dad, I found out the difference between a cow and a bull. It’s not horns. It’s lower!” – VIRGINIA IN VILLA RICA, GA.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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