Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Zoo People

My wife and I enjoy taking our son to the zoo. There is nothing quite like witnessing the wonder in a child’s eyes as they behold the exotic and majestic animals on display there. Over many trips to different zoos I have observed several distinct groups of zoo visitors.

The first group I will call the “dolittles.” These people are unable to control their urge to communicate with the animals. While they can be found around the primate house and the lion enclosure, they seem to really hit their stride while viewing the wolf exhibit. Despite multiple signs alerting zoo patrons to the wolves’ nocturnal nature and distaste for being howled at, they are unable to restrain themselves. As if on cue, they throw their head back and let loose their best imitation of the feared predator. This usually results in at least one wolf raising their head up and, in what has to be a recurring fantasy, imagining a fence no longer separates them from the general public.
Also, I cannot even begin to describe how it enhances my zoo experience to stand next to someone cooing “hey kitty kitty.” at the panther cage. I have to fight the urge to lean over to them and whisper “I hope you realize that, given the opportunity, this animal would gladly chew your face off.” Sadly, almost none of the offenders are children and almost all of them seemed entertained by their own perceived cleverness. Tellingly, the last guy I witnessed doing this was wearing a Bud Light T-shirt.

The second group that is interesting to observe I will refer to as “over-dressers.” On our most recent trip to the zoo, my wife noticed several young women congregated in front of the elephant display. Strikingly, one of them was in evening wear, full makeup, and heels. Wondering aloud, my wife remarked, “if she trying to pick someone up at the zoo!?” I suppose there are worse ways to answer the “so how did you two meet?” question (family reunion, STD screening, Arby’s) but the zoo has never struck me as a mecca for eligible bachelors. Perhaps she was hoping a younger man would sidle up to her at the Big Cat Emporium and remark “I have always wondered what it would be like to have a cougar of my very own…”

Over-dressers are not always female. I have seen a few men who apparently agonized over the correct tie for ostrich observation. Unless you are visiting dignitary, just dress comfortably and enjoy your time at the zoo. Generally speaking, if I am going to spend the majority of my day within 50 yards of animal feces I do not find it necessary to wade into the “dry clean only” section of my closet.

The final group consists of amateur photographers. These people haul in DSLRs, tripods, and an array of zoom lenses that would make any celebrity stalker green with envy. I myself have a DSLR and enjoy taking pictures, but there comes a time when camping out in front of the hippo pool for 3 hours detracts from the rest of us. The dedication is admirable, but let’s stops pretending that you are tracking a snow leopard while on assignment for the Discovery Channel.


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