Lessons from the zoo

CameraMan and I are the only childless adults we know who go to the zoo on a regular basis. Today, I went to the Central Park Zoo on my own and got a very strange look at the ticket counter when I said, "1 adult, please." The cashier waited for me to complete my order, and I had to add, "That's all" before he proceeded.

I guess most grown-ups don't get reintroduced to the joys of the zoo until they have kids. And if you haven't gone to the zoo much lately, you might not be familiar with every type of animal on display there. Still, I am constantly amazed at the things I hear parents saying to their children. At the CP Zoo, which is very small, there are a pretty limited selection of animals. The only primates they have are snow monkeys, and there have got to be at least a dozen signs around their habitat proclaiming that they are snow monkeys. However, I heard the following conversation next to me:

Child: Look! Monkeys!
Mom: Oh, there they are. Those are baboons, honey.
Child: There's a baby monkey!
Mom: You're right. It's a baby baboon. Isn't that baboon funny? What is the baboon doing?

And 10 minutes later, I heard another mother explaining to her child that it was almost time for the walruses to be fed. She was, of course, referring to the sea lions.

But nothing tops what CM and I heard in Houston a few months ago: 2 parents talking to their kids about "meekrats." MEEKRATS. At first I thought I had misheard, but no, they repeated it several times. Meekrats. CM and I spent the rest of our zoo visit pointing out the "ephelants," the "gifarres," and the "melurs."

So maybe right now we're a little weird for loving the zoo so much. But someday? Someday we're going to be the cool, in the know parents, the ones teaching our kids to roll their eyes when their friends or their friends' parents confuse a wallaby with a kangaroo.


  1. I know plenty of people who like going to the zoo. Mostly photographers of course. The one that comes to mind is Sandy who goes to the zoo almost as much as you two do, no children in tow.


    I see that you get to explore a whole new zoo in Vienna. How exciting!

  2. I love the zoo! I go as often as possible, and am trying to visit all of them. Not on my list or anything - and reciprocal agreements help get you in for free. Went to the Anchorage Zoo in 6°F weather! Saw hippos doing rated R things to each other in Honolulu.

    But the evidence of parental ignorance saddens me.

  3. And Sulla55/Sandy knows ALL the animals names at the Houston Zoo... its amazing. I love going to the zoo with her!

  4. Ulen un Apen - Eulen und Meerkatzen

    Till Eulenspiegel

  5. Laurie & Ann: It had been FOREVER since I looked at Sandy's photos—thanks for reminding me! They're amazing! And it's true that lots of photogs do like the zoo. Even I felt less conspicuous at the CP Zoo because I had my camera companion. :)

  6. Check out my photos in the next few days - I went to the St Louis Zoo because it was a lovely day and you reinspired me. Took a few photos that you might enjoy...


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