Let me just say how refreshing it was to encounter another zoo hater. I, too, pretty much hate the zoo.
The big cats terrify me. Ever since I was a child I have had a recurring dream where I am stalked by lions, tigers, leopards, panthers, and cheetahs. For real. As far back as I can remember I have been having this dream. It’s awful.
The monkeys irritate me. If I wanted to hear a whole lot of screeching I could stay home. Aside from the cacophony of what always seems like a gross of monkeys (in reality, it’s probably more like a dozen, but they are just so chatty that it always sounds like more), their behavior is not appropriate for all ages. I would say the monkey area should be rated NC-17. They really are like people, if people were all male adolescents and/or yammering schoolgirls.
The exception to the monkey rule and always the highlight of any zoo visit are the gorillas. I love the gorillas. They fascinate me. Gorillas really ARE a lot like people. The grown-ups behave like adults. They both nurture their young and can show annoyance with them, just like human parents. But what draws me to them are their eyes. They are so expressive. Sometimes I swear I can almost see them thinking, processing information, just by how they look at a thing. It usually occurs to me that they might be thinking about how to kill us, their captors. That’s understandable. They are still astounding to me. I could stay there all day. I defy even the most resistant, fundamentalist Christian to watch the gorillas and not at least entertain the idea of evolution.
I won ‘t even enter a reptile house. Too dark. Too many slithery things. And it smells like ass. Homeless person ass. I’ll stay at the gorilla exhibit, thank you very much! Find me when it’s time for our visit to the “Jungle Cafe”. I always look forward to forking over $12 so that I may eat a dry, gray burger that’s remained lukewarm through the use of the 1960’s era heat lamp and a side of stale fries.
I am not what you would call a bird lover. I particularly hate those zoos that try to simulate a natural avian environment, you know, where the birds are flying around loose, so that visitors can enjoy them in what is designed to resemble their natural environment. They always seem to place this particular exhibit between you and the exit. I guess you’re supposed to look forward to this, like it’s the grand finale, the cherry on the sundae, the icing on the cake! Not for me. For me, it is an anxiety-producing nightmare.
I’ll let you in on a secret: there’s always another way out. I know this because I’ve had zoo employees escort me through the “special passage”, on more than one occasion. I’ve discovered that they really enjoy taking time out of their busy day to accommodate the crazy bird phobic lady. You’d think that they would enjoy a brief respite from the daily grind of chopping up worms and cleaning up guano, but whatever. I don’t care though because I do not want anything to do with any kind of bird getting anywhere near me. I don’t even want to watch their antics through glass, let alone have them swooping and cawing and possibly ALIGHTING on any part of my person.
Don’t even get me started on people who have birds in their homes, as pets, on purpose. I have severed friendships over my refusal to step foot in the homes of some of these freaks. To wit:
“Are you coming to our Christmas party?”
” Will the bird be there?”
” Yes. ”
“Then, no. I won’t be coming to the Christmas party.”
” I’ll put the cover over the cage. He’ll think its nighttime.”
” I’ll still know he’s there. Sorry. ”
“You’re a little crazy, you know that, right?”
” I don’t think I can be friends with someone who doesn’t like animals.”
” I like animals. I don’t necessarily want them in my home, but I’d never hurt one. And I don’t consider birds animals.”
“Scientists do. Consider them animals.”
“I’ll have to look that one up. But they’re still birds.”
” I really have to think about whether we should still be friends.”
“I understand, it was nice knowing you. Have a merry Christmas!”
I actually left the grocery store on one occasion because I spied a bird in the rafters. I kept my eye on it. When it took flight and I lost it in he cereal aisle I knew i had to get the hell out of there. Who needs groceries, anyway. I’ll just order a pizza.
Once a bird flew into my house (because someone left the TOP of the window down). I made my husband come home from work to deal with the man-eating sparrow while I cowered a safe distance from the house (a couple of blocks seemed reasonable). Even after I saw him bring out the bird I still wanted to move.
I can’t cotton to the whole zoo attitude regarding poultry. They’re birds, but they don’t fly, so they don’t freak me out as much as other birds. Maybe it’s because I think I can outrun them (I probably can’t, but operating under this delusion calms me). Most zoos just allow the poultry — the peacocks, the chickens, the partridges, the pheasants and the turkeys — free rein to wander the grounds aimlessly. It doesn’t seem like a good idea to let them just run amok amongst hordes of people. You’re not supposed to feed them. There are signs warning against this. But your average 3-year-old can’t read, so I’m certain they’ve consumed their fair share of ring pops. This might explain the directionless ambling, followed by the bursts of random pecking.
My daughter feels differently about zoos. As a result, many family outings have been spent at zoos. Given the number of zoos we’ve visited, you would think that I’d have tons of photographic evidence. I don’t. I have a suspicion that the animals were able to sense my ennui because nearly every time I would try to take a picture, they would turn tail and show me their bums (the animal equivalent to flipping me off?). I can’t say I blame them.