My Trip to the Zoo: Part I

The Indianapolis Zoo, in what I can only regard as an attempt to bolster their reputation (which seemingly relies almost exclusively on artificially inseminating elephants) has added a few animals to their stable: the African warthog, the crested porcupine, and two different species of bat. Since I have an unnatural affinity for bats, and since it had been a long enough time since my last visit to let me forgot how much zoos depress me, I decided it would be a great idea to go, and I took my dad along. Here lies a synopsis of the trip.

Entrance: We are forced by an overly cheery zoo employee to take a picture together that we can buy as we are leaving. Makes me wonder if people look at these pictures as they are leaving and remember how great life was two hours ago, before the multiple tantrums, dirty bathrooms, sunburns, overpriced food and whatever souvenir they had to buy their kid to get them to shut up. On to the aquarium!

Stingrays: First exhibit. I wittily call one a murderer as it swims by. I feel awkward near the front of the exhibit as I seem to be taller than everyone around me. I constantly look around and offer shorter people a chance to stand in front of me. A feeling and action that persists throughout the day.

Reef Biome: Moray eels look incredibly fake. They move like those terrible robotics from Disney’s ‘It’s a Small World’ ride.

Pet the Sharks tank: I watch sharks tease kids and adults alike as they swim up to the edge inviting people to reach their fingers into the waters only to swim just out of reach. I imagine the sharks are incredibly amused by this. I’m not sure anyone actually touches one while I was there. I don’t attempt to pet one because I am much to cool to be punked out by some bitch ass shark.

Seahorses: Two of three tanks have seahorses in them. Everyone looks in the third tank because of the trust we had built up with the zoo until this point. The sign saying ‘this exhibit is currently unavailable’ is oddly in a spot high enough that nobody would actually look at it as they approach. I notice it after staring in a tank filled with nothing but water like some asshole and made it a point to emphatically point it out so people around me don’t share my fate. No one pays attention and everyone looks inside.

Small tank with 2 clown fish and sea anemone: “Look daddy, Nemo!” “IT’S NEMO!” etc etc. I wonder if the warthogs will get a similar ovation with Pumba references.

Sea Lions Part I: Swimming around in circles in an enclosed area sure looks like an exciting way to spend ones life.

Penguins: No creature on Earth looks funnier when it walks.

Aquarium Exit and Polar Bears: No actual Polar Bears to be seen. People seem mystified by this and are hanging around the exhibit anyway, which prompts more people to walk up to it. A kid has a slight freak out when he doesn’t see the polar bears and stomps off to the Walrus exhibit. The mom looks at me with a slightly embarrassed look while nervously laughing. I use my facial expressions to (hopefully) convey to her the sentiment, “I don’t think you’re a bad parent just because your kid had a mini tantrum.” The dad tries to impart a lesson on the kid that will hopefully translate to the rest of his life with, “Hey…chill out.”

Walrus exhibit: Walrus’s aren’t actually in it. I think it’s harbor seals that look slightly overweight. Two are sunning themselves, one is swimming and one looks dead. We run into the first souvenir kiosk and I get to watch a bunch of kids beg their parents for stuffed animals or t-shirts that look really dumb. Most of the parents are pretty firm with their resistance to buying anything. I tell my dad my new theory on how to combat teen pregnancy. Just bring young teenagers to the zoo and make them watch the parents try to deal with their kids, emphasizing the strained faces and annoyed voices. Reinforce the point that this is supposed to be a fun family enterprise and that very few people seem to actually be having any fun. Then give them some condoms. My did gives me the courteous I-Know-You’re-Making-A-Joke laugh, but I can see in his eyes the sadness of his certainty that the Stuckey name may not live on.

Desert Biome: It’s always fun to see the disinterest in the kids eyes as they haphazardly glance from lizards, turtles, cacti and birds that hop around. In the middle there are meerkats whose antics people actually care about. I personally like the lizards and turtles. They are the types of animals that I feel don’t actually give a shit about their captivity so I have no real guilt about looking at them.

Snakes: We walk by a snake called a black-faced python and I make an Al Jolson of the animal kingdom joke. Kid freak out number two, dad carries him out of the exhibit.

Leaving the Desert Biome: There is this small waterfall and inside the maybe 1 foot by 1 foot pool it lands in there are two goldfish. This perplexes me to no end. Who put these goldfish there and who feeds them? They are obviously not desert animals, so I don’t know why a worker would put them there. But would a person smuggle in two goldfish just to put them in some random pool of water? It almost makes me want to go back in a few weeks to see if they are still there. Almost.

Plains Biome Entrance: There is an expanse that includes a few animals that can apparently intermingle without fighting. Kudus (kind of like gazelles with twisting horns), ostriches (only saw 1) and zebra (none actually in the exhibit). People spend about as much time looking at this exhibit as I did typing this paragraph.

Giraffes: The young giraffe that was born here is still smaller than the other giraffes and has to really reach to get to the food…far enough where I almost want to point it out to a zookeeper. Then I realize that it’s probably like that for a reason and if I said anything to a zookeeper they would probably think I’m a dick (also noting I have yet to actually see a zookeeper).

Lions Part I: Majestic creatures doing what majestic creatures do….lay around in the grass. I wonder how they keep animals from over breeding, like if they slip them some drugs that kill their sex drive in their food. My dad says that the animals probably realize their confines and won’t breed too much (if at all) because of them. I feel stupid because that answer makes complete sense and it didn’t cross my mind. I realize how very little I have actually learned from this zoo trip. I vow to learn more.

Between Lion and Rhino exhibit: Asian kid falls down, is obviously not hurt and doesn’t cry, but lays there completely still like he’s absorbing what just happened to him. Dad stands over him with a little smirk on his face. Kid eventually gets up on his own and they walk to rhino exhibit. I find this to be refreshing parenting.

Rhino exhibit: People seem more entertained by the bouncy bridge to get to the exhibit than the rhinos themselves. As we stand there for about two minutes watching the rhinos eat I ponder aloud, “I wonder how much they eat a day?” I look at one of the signs and it tells me. I have already forgotten but I want to say it was either 40 or 70 pounds of hay. My memory is amazing. As I am walking out I have the first genuinely good moment involving a child at the zoo. She is very young and her dad is carrying her to the exhibit. I see her face when she first sees the rhinos and the expression she makes tells me that her whole reality up that point has been shattered as she has never conceived of such an incredible creature. I mention this moment to my father and he gets noticeably happy, perhaps thinking that there is hope for the Stuckey name yet.

Turns out I am more wordy than I remember. I will add part II in the coming days.

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