The Zoo

There is a lot to like about a zoo. You see animals that you could never see in the wild. You get outside to enjoy the sunshine for an afternoon. You might sample the cotton candy, make sure they are still making it up to par.

But there sure is a lot to dislike as well. For one, you are probably going to have feces thrown at you. That is a real turnoff in my book. In fact, I’d venture to say that I’d probably never return to a place that had that on the menu so it’s a wonder the zoo even survives in the first place. It’s a miracle I actually dig deeper and find another reason to stop going to zoos.

The real reason I don’t go to the zoo as much is slightly more highbrow. Doesn’t it seem like the actual point of the zoo is lost on the audience that its designed for. Bear with me. The point of the zoo, any zoo, is to educate people (mostly children) on the wide diversity and unique qualities of the animals of the world in hopes of creating awareness surrounding the conservation and preservation of said diversity. Hmmmm… there is probably a simpler way I could have written that. The point of the zoo is to ogle all the different freaky animals.

But everytime I’m there, it becomes clear that the altruism in the mission of the zoo is completely lost on the clientele. For instance, say the zoo staff has taken great lengths to rescue, feed, and raise an endangered Mountain Gorilla, of which there are less than 400 still left in the wild. A remarkable specimen to see, with its massive body and hairless face, enjoying a nap in the tree. So how come every single person that walks up to the glass to gaze at its wonder shouts out, as plain as day, “Look at the big monkey!” No one is employed to stand there and correct them. No signs are posted that say “Primate Yes, Monkey No.” The rare and wonderful Mountain Gorilla could very well have been a giant monkey sock puppet or stuffed animal. It would garner the same reaction 82% of the time.

I find its mostly parents who zoom past the information signs, instead imparting their very generic and limited knowledge of animals onto their children. It becomes the tiresome game of “What’s that?” Children must enthusiastically scream, holler, or yell the answer back (Giraffe!!!!) in order to “get it right” in this game. It’s kinda like the stipulation on Jeopardy where you can say the right answer but if its not in the form of the question, you don’t win. Except in this version if the child isn’t red-faced, tears welling up, tearing their baby-fresh vocal cords while call and response-ing, the parent REPEATS THE FRICKIN’ QUESTION! They don’t seem to like it when I, embracing my alter ego Johnny Sarcastic, play along. Suddenly it’s so childish when I try to show a little excitement by yelling “Baboon!!!!” at the top of my lungs.

Don’t even get me started on Aquariums. Although, part one would basically be a search and replace on the word ‘zoo’ in this piece with the word ‘aquarium.’ Of course, I would obligated to throw in the one paragraph at the end about how I wish zoos would adopt the “animal enrichment” program that the aquariums have where you can watch someone pretend to jet ski on the back of two dolphins. I would love to see zoo staffers strap onto the back of two baby panda bears and pretend to 4-wheel.

5 thoughts on “The Zoo”

  1. Well wlecome to my everyday life. By working with kids in the outdoors I basically have this zoo senario going on everyday. My favorite thing is when one kid who doesn’t know the diference between a xbox and a squirrel tries to impart his vast knowledge to another kid. Thi usually goes something like this.

    “Why do deer eat grass?”
    “OH YOU KNOW THEY NEED TO EAT GRASS BECAUSE IT HELPS THEM TURN THE RIGHT COLOR”

    The zoo is a great example of my new understanding that the general public is simply stupid

  2. Wait, what’s this? Look, I don’t have time to read these educational signs in front of the cages. Just lemme catch my breath.

    I just walked 8 miles from the last exhibit to get to this one. This zoo is so massive that I don’t know if I’ll be able to get back to my car before heat stroke sets in. Perhaps if this so-called “gorilla” was pulling me around on a rickshaw, I might be more interested in hearing his life story. Instead, I’m just going to pause here for a sec, look at the giant monkey, and then make my peace with god.

  3. Ok, let me try to be constuctive for a change. I actually do think the information signs aren’t a very useful means of education anymore. Or at least we can do better. There has been one option proposed–rickshaws pulled by gorilas who narrate the journey with bits and pieces of their life story.

    I see a second option–sound modulators placed on the throats of all the zoo creatures that turn all their hoots, calls, and neck movements into a cartoon voiceover provided by a well-known celebrity that tells the facts about the animal. The animals will tell us their own story but in a voice that is acceptable and instantly-likable to gelatinous young minds.

  4. I’m seeing a great work oppurtunity for midgets. Think of the captivated masses listening to midgets in animal suits. They could even perform dangerous animal tricks.
    “Ohhh look mommy that little man in the penguin suit is sticking his head in the polar bear’s mouth.”
    Now tell me that isn’t a platinum hit. I do agree with the centaur, when is the zoo going to install the moving sidewalk. I mean I have to pay outrageous prices to get in and you want to make me break a sweat. You can keep your snake house and huge monkey.

  5. Back to flinging fecal matter, if there was some way we could make the feces non-smelly and more colorful, can you imagine the birthday party options that would open up? Pooball, instead of paintball… Paint your own pottery with poo… Pizza and poo milkshakes. This could broaden the zoo’s mission in ways we couldn’t even count.

    Voice overs are a good idea (I’m imagining Kelsey Grammer and Steve Buscemi); rickshaws and narrating gorillas are a great idea; What about parrots? They already talk, combine that with little people pulling the rickshaws and guest appearances by Steve Buscemi and Kelsey Grammer and we’ve got ourselves a zoo for the future!

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