Sunday, August 9, 2009

"It's all happening at the zoo"

Yesterday, after 10+ years in this town, we went to the local zoo. I do not mean a zoo-zoo, I mean the local teaching zoo where they teach wanna-be zookeepers to be, well zookeepers.

Because it is a teaching zoo it is not staffed the way a public zoo is & you have to go with a group. Tours run every ???; we waited 20 minutes, which seemed reasonable. We were in a group of one other couple like us (grown-ups, no kids) & three couples with kids. Well kind of. Two couple with two kids each & one family of...

Maybe I should just tell the story.

So there we were those of us I have described & THEM. When we went in to buy our tickets ($4 for adults, such a bargain) the father asked me if I wanted one of his daughters. Then he asked if I wanted another. Then he asked if I wanted the third. I am from Connecticut & I know how to lower the temperature about 10F with body language alone(it is our super-power, how do you think we survive sandwiched between NYC & Boston) ; I said "no" the first time, never made eye contact & was ignoring him by the third. & HE KEPT TALKING. The guy was so obnoxious, A tuned out completely, missed crucial information (like we had to go with a group) & was agitated enough to leave an air-conditioned building with chairs to go stand in the parking lot.

Fast forward to actually entering the zoo. Ideal father was telling the story (not sure to who) of how each of his daughters had been a 'son' on the ultra-sound & how that was the only thing he really cared about & did anyone want a daughter. He entered the zoo with said daughters, his wife & his mother.

We all went to the first exhibit which was a building with snakes & lizards & such in the windows. We walked around the of the building, looking in at the windows while an inexperienced tour guide (a student, perhaps) read from her crib-notes what was what. His mother would not go near the building, she does not like snakes. Tour guide says something along the lines of "No one can be in the zoo unsupervised, I will get someone to stay with you" & Grandmother has a meltdown. No really, in two easy steps. The whole group waits while Grandmother has a hissy, tries to stalk off & is stopped from doing so because, well they cannot have anyone unsupervised in the zoo. Then she really ignites.

Soooooo, now there are multiple people joining us, including what is clearly a supervisor, that whole family unit gets pulled to one side & they decide that Grandmother will be escorted to the car. & apparently her son has to go with her....? They were given the option of a tour to themselves skipping the snake house but that was unacceptable. The rest of us are still waiting. Grandmother & Father leave.

The tour continues with all of us as above & Mother with three daughters, two of whom would rather be in the one stroller. The kids (all of them) were actually pretty good. Excellent when you consider they spent at least 10 minutes each at five 'groupings' of snakes et al. that should not have taken 15 minutes for the whole thing.

We move on & see some other animals: not the otters there was tree-work happening in their cage) & not the tree kangaroos (they just would not leave their air-conditioned bungalow), but others like the Galapagos tortoises. We get to the black swan (the swan bites) & our guide is radioed that someone will be rejoining our group. & we wait. & we wait. & we wait. On a boardwalk in the sun. Finally THEM father reappears & the tour resumes.

We go through the rest of the zoo, THEM father tries to give away his daughters a few more times. At one point he asks us (me & A) what something (either the crown cranes or the springbok; they share an exhibit) might be like grilled. We ignore him completely & he seems surprised, briefly & then asks the other people standing next to us if they want one of his daughters.

The tour continues, with this family dropping further & further behind. We occasionally overhear snippets of conversation. Apparently some of us are snobs (that would be me& A, or maybe the other couple a statistics professor at the same school as the zoo & a biologist, or maybe all four of us; none of us was very friendly) & then there are the family the THEM referred to as 'those people': a white father, a black mother & their two daughters.

SIDEBAR: at one point the younger of this couple's girls was trying to squeeze between A & the railing & the mother said very strongly "say excuse me!" A turned around, startled, & I thought he was going to say it; I do not think he had even noticed the little girl. I laughed, he laughed, mother laughed & the girl got a good view of whatever she was trying to see.

The tour moves on, we see other animals. Our emus are more fun. The blind bald eagle was kind of spooky. The kookaburra was indeed in the old gum tree. At each exhibit we have to wait for THEM to catch up as all their girls are tired & have to be carried & or strollered & they keep changing places.

As we get to the gate to leave one of the THEM daughters (who really were well behaved when they were not lagging behind) turns to her mother & asks "which one is your favorite, Mommy?".

Mommy says "I think my favorite was the ocelot".

Her daughter says "no, mommy, which one of US is your favorite".

Mommy says " I love all my girls the same".

It was sad.


  1. I'm guessing many hours of therapy will be in order soon.

  2. This zoo sound like a great place.
    There are thems all over. We had thems on the trip to the Alpaca farm we went to.