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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    It’s all happening at the zoo

    Andi Berlinarts columnist
    Andi Berlin
    arts columnist

    Going to the zoo is a lot like going to the circus. There are all sorts of animals like lions, tigers, elephants and three-week old hot dogs roaming around, but it’s often more exciting to watch the humans.

    I realized this while standing by the fish pond in the Reid Park Zoo this weekend, when a little kid in a Budweiser hat fell right into the exhibit. He was crouching down to gaze through the muddy water to see some koi fish swimming, and he just plopped right in. His mustachioed mother started screaming so loudly we thought it might wake the bears from hibernation next door, until she realized that the pond was only a few feet deep. The horrified child waddled around for a minute and then grabbed onto the side and hoisted himself up, while the woman still panting like a wild dog from exhaustion. Nobody thought to help him.

    The astounding human ability to ignore the bizarre magnified when I passed by the giraffe enclosure, the focal point in the center of the zoo. The male giraffe was attempting to court the female by showcasing a gigantic and dripping erection, waving it around like a python falling through the air. It looked like something from the Nature Channel’s best list, except it was happening right in front of our eyes. Ten feet away, to be exact.

    But much to my surprise, virtually every man, woman and miniature demon in a stroller that passed by were completely ignoring it. The parents, desperate not to give their kids any bad ideas, were practically running by the exhibit at top speed.

    “”Mommy, mommy!”” screamed a lanky 4-year-old in a “”Lion King”” PumbaaT-shirt, stomping toward the jungle burlesque show. “”What’s thaaa?””

    A strong hand swiftly clasped over his mouth before he could finish, and another guided itself straight under his behind, whisked him into the air in one movement and nudged him into a blue stroller.

    “”Don’t you want to see the polar bears?”” his overprotective mother asked while she belted him like Hannibal Lecter.

    “”Maybe she was scared he’d fall in,”” I commented to my friend, as she laughed. It was her idea to visit the lions next, but all I really wanted to do was go to the gift shop. The thin brown otters that resembled strings of poop floating through a toilet and the plethora of stenches in the underground polar bear viewing area no longer appealed to me.

    “”Can’t we just get a hot dog and be done with it?”” I said. “”Seriously, we’ve seen every exhibit. There’s nothing left.””

    She said, “”Some of the most interesting things are outside of the cages.””

    This insight didn’t suffice, but I agreed to stay for a little while longer if she’d buy me the plastic turtle replica that I eyed on the way in. It wasn’t enough just to see the turtles; I’d rather pretend I’d seen them… like Disneyland!

    The cool thing about the Reid Park Zoo is that you can see all of the animals up-close. As opposed to the suburban sprawl extravaganza of a zoo in my homeland of Phoenix, all of the cages are built with the viewers in mind. They might be a little smaller, but in Tucson you can actually see the intricate black embroideries on the back of a zebra, and you can see the miniature wrinkles underneath the ears of an elephant as it takes a sip of water.

    And unless you’re a curious kid, you can also see the leisurely but commanding body of the lion snoozing on its back next to its female companion. The bulky masculine form lay with its legs stretched out, spread eagle next to its contemplative lady. I felt a little dirty looking at it, because the lion’s position distinctly reminded me of what a boyfriend does when he’s rummaging for a blow job.

    I heard a little snicker come from behind me and noticed the same overprotective mother approaching. She slowed to a stop next to me as the string-bean physique of her son began to undulate and sob uncontrollably.

    “”Ma, I wanna see! Ma, I wanna see!”” he raved as we redirected our concentration toward the pair.

    His mother chuckled and continued to let him cry. Finally, she turned toward us and cackled out, “”He’s just mad ’cause he wants to run around. Every time I let him out, he disappears.”” Then turning to her son, she said, “”Stop crying, you little brat. You wanna’ go to the gift shop?””

    Before she turned the cage-of-a-stroller around, we noticed that the boy couldn’t see. His disregarding mother was standing right in front of a pole, and the only reason she could see the spectacle was because she wasn’t chained to the ground. From his vantage point of the stroller prison, he was staring straight at a black bar.

    “”Oh well, it doesn’t matter if he can see the animals anyway,”” my friend reflected as the devil-woman pushed him toward the exit. “”His mother is close enough.””

    “”We’re all close enough,”” I added. “”Can we get that plastic turtle now?””

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