Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How To Survive The Perilous, Glorious Zoo

First of all, it's important to remember that timing is everything.  A hot day is worse than a mild day, but a cold day is worse than a hot day.  The day should be mild and perhaps -- but not necessarily -- breezy.  A day with sun shining through errant clouds, perhaps.  A day that starts early, perhaps.  Because by the sun-drenched afternoon, surely the animals will be lazy and motionless, and then the whole point of the zoo would be moot. 

Next, make sure you take advantage of all the animals, and I don't just mean the living ones.  The bronze sculptures will do quite nicely for entertainment, as long as you keep your attitude just slightly on the far side of serious.  Remembering that when a live Orangutan ambled across the window in front of you so that you nearly peed your pants with either excitement or fright or both, feel free to take advantage of the still-life Orangutan.  Feel free to pick his nose, even.  Nothing says 'I'm not afraid of you' like taking advantage of someone else's nasal cavities. 

But don't become blase about your surroundings.  Keep your eyes open for wandering, free-flying birds, because if one decided to spread his giant wings and buzz the tops of your sightseeing heads as you considered the black panther's feeding schedule, it would surely send the mature pack of adults you'd come with into hysterics.  In fact, when crossing through a territory of zoo terrain that is known to be filled with power-hungry birds, it's best to just waddle through on your haunches rather than be flapped and flown over (within inches) by a nasty beast such as this:

But keep in mind that when that blue-feathered death-bringer tries to bombard you for the second time in a 5 minute period, it's best to cling to an adult.  Even if his laughter is tinged with panicky madness.  Even if he'd throw himself to the ground before remembering your presence in his supposedly safe arms.  Chances are, you'll be screaming and clawing at your human's shirt with all the strength you possess, so he'll feel the need to exit the bird sanctuary, post-haste. 

Once your nerves have been sufficiently calmed, make sure you stop at the Giraffe feeding platform, where your presence will be much appreciated.  Keep a stack of singles handy to pay for a meal for these giant beauties with glassy, feathered eyes, and your time here will be worth the wait.  Again, watch out for your mature escorts: their excitement and unbridled joy in forcing you towards the head -- suspended above you precariously -- of a rather large wild animal may need to be tempered with much refusal and shouting.

In that case, the best course of action is to first observe them feeding the giant-headed creature.  Don't forget to laugh and point when your father-figure is slimed by a foot-long tongue and left soiled with strings of slippery saliva across his outstretched fingers.  Also, don't forget to make him sanitize and dry his hands before he tries to come in direct contact with any part of your person.

A famously exciting attraction at the zoo is the Tiger exhibit, at which you will likely be treated to a glimpse of a beautifully dangerous tiger, far, far away.  Sometimes, though, in certain circumstances and under particular conditions, a tiger may wish to cuddle with you.  Don't be afraid, or if you are, feign nonchalance.  Rub his belly if you're feeling brave, just try not to ogle his proudly if he's lounging in an incredibly immodest pose, flat on his back.  Try to keep your adult companions from snickering, if you're up to a challenge. 

Whatever you do, remember that the zoo is a place for fun.  If you don't feel like posing for a photographer more than once or twice a minute, you are fully within your rights to patently refuse.  After all, what good is a picture, if its subject is throwing a tantrum?

On the other hand, if you're of the opinion that no good thing happens without photographic documentation, the zoo is the place for you.  You may wish to pose and simper and wilt for the camera, affecting your most pleasant imitations of princesses and fairies, and the zoo will accommodate you nicely.  Assuming you've planned your trip between meals and naptimes, at an hour concurrent with appropriate ratios of sunshine to wind, and during the most pleasing phase of the moon's orbital path, your photos will show memories of a sufficiently enjoyable time.  (And keep in mind that bronze noses are still the most interesting feature on any statue.  Explore fully and recklessly.)

If there's one secret to surviving and fondly remembering your trip to the zoo, it is this: leave at the exact moment of irritation.  No sooner, and no later.  When walking becomes burdensome, when the sun reaches its zenith, when whines outnumber gasps, it's time to exit stage right. 

And for you rookie zoo-goers, here's one final, helpful hint. Perhaps the most important hint of all: Stage Right has a colorful, brightly lit sign above its revolving door -- GIFT SHOP.


  1. WELL DONE! BRAVO! The tiger gave me the giggles.
    We have to skip nap when we go to the zoo here because it is so big. Which makes for a LURVLY afternoon!
    Those girls are adorable, BTW.

  2. So cute and fun! My favorite part is a tie between the bronze nostrils and the tiger nonchalance and manhood.

  3. Is this the NC Zoo? It looks just like the giraffe feeding platform there, oh I love that Zoo We go every time we visit the mother in law!
    and you have great advice, no hot days, must get there early oh and if you want the chimps to come up right up to you, then you have to "act" just like them, never make eye contact... seriously, the husband was comical last time we went, but it worked, they came right up to us everytime and just sat there, lol

  4. tiger manly paraphernalia...I wish I was more mature and didn't snort tea all over the place while reading that!

    You got her in that super-cute romper/jumper outfit again, yay!!!

  5. The tigers and lions are incredibly immodest at our zoo too! Not to mention the monkeys who were loudly participating in a very public mating scene right at the edge of their pen.
    I couldn't agree more with your assesment of when to leave the zoo, and I would only add that you should never run out of snacks, because that moment of departure will arrive much sooner than expected if you do.

  6. I love how you can take an ordinary trip to the zoo and turn it into an brilliant post! How do you do that?! Obviously, I loved it! :)

  7. Tina - You are braver than I! Naptimes are mandatory on zoo days, even if they're late or short -- I can't do it otherwise! The kids would probably be fine, but YIKES! I'd bust a nerve or something :)

    Cristina - It's Wichita, but I've seen Giraffe feeding platforms at other zoos too. It seems like a pretty popular attraction :)

    Lucy - No! Not the tea! But I'm glad you laughed!

    Katie - Ah, but you see -- this was no ordinary trip! It really was crazy and funny :)

  8. I could barely even read this post! Penelope was sitting in my lap at the computer, trying to pet the giraffe and simultaneously shouting "Waur-wen! That's Waur-wen!" (Which I think means, "Lauren! That's Lauren!" or something to that effect.) So glad you guys had fun!


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?