Several weeks ago, the Beloved and I decided to spend a day at one of San Diego’s more famous tourist destinations — the San Diego Zoo. We like the Zoo, and are members, but never seem to get there as often as we’d like. So, we figured, why not?
My general feeling is that a good zoo is on the balance a good thing. I know that the animals there don’t get the free range of their native environments, but when so many of those are being encroached upon by civilization and so many species are endangered, I think zoos act as an important buffer. They also serve as a means of education. As an urban kid, I got my only real exposure to the animal kingdom at the Philadelphia Zoo. Those trips kindled in me an interest in biology that I still have today.
The one thing I don’t like — in zoos, or anywhere else – is monkeys. Monkeys are creepy. Yes, I know they’re our genetic cousins, and maybe that’s it. Seeing a monkey in a zoo hits a little too close to home.
Our first path, of course, was “the monkey trail”, and there were lots of monkeys doing monkey things. But as you might find on a zoo on a warm day is that many of the animals were, you know, just hanging out. This didn’t sit too well with one family — an obese father bedecked in a t-shirt with a big eagle and two pudgy sons clad in camouflage. The boys were whining that the monkeys were “boring”. Dad’s answer? “Throw some change at ‘em… that’ll get ‘em moving.” The Beloved touched my arm as I began to turn to calmly point out the error of their ways, but fortunately one kid said, “I ain’t got no change.” and they moved on. I would have gladly swapped the primates behind the enclosure for the ones in front of it.
The rest of the visit passed much more happily and we spent some time with animals that weren’t monkeys, but all through the day we kept ruefully asking each other if we had any change. For example, koalas are a pretty low energy animal from what I can gather. I’m pretty sure they could have put some of the stuffed koalas from the gift shop in the trees and it might create the same effect.
I like all the little gazelle like animals. I think they remind me of Penny. And our household is nearly unanimous in our appreciation of meerkats.
Of course, when you’re there, you have to spend a little time looking at the elephants. They have a interesting new exhibit at the Zoo (with the elephants as the centerpiece) that compares modern animals to their Paleolithic counterparts. We were present for an interesting discussion of how and why elephants need regular pedicures. And I’m pretty sure one was being shy and trying to play hide-and-seek with us behind some rocks.
All in all, it was a very fun day and we got to see a bunch of interesting animals and by and large didn’t see much more bad human behavior.
How about you? What’s your favorite animal to stop in and see from time to time?