The chimpanzees in the zoos do it.
Some courageous kangaroos do it.
Let’s do it – let’s fall in love.
“Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall in Love” – C. Porter
I went to Wellington Zoo on Labour Day. My immediate instinct was to compare it with Auckland Zoo, in which case I will note that Wellington Zoo is much more compact; Auckland more sprawling – a bit like the respective cities. At Wellington, every inch of space is used. You pass through the entrance building, and – bam – there are the animals.
It was a public holiday, and a fun, sunny day at that, so many parents had taken their kids to the zoo. Interestingly, almost all the parents were working really really hard to make the zoo visit as FUN and EDUCATIONAL for their kids as possible. “Look at the monkey! Can you see the monkey? Where’s the monkey? What’s the monkey doing up the tree? What do you think the monkey likes to eat?” But I dunno – it seems that kids can make their own educational fun out of the experience. If they’re not reading the fact card about the kiwi’s predators, it doesn’t mean they want to hear it read aloud to them in a lively voice.
In the lion enclosure, the lions had just been fed, right in front of the viewing window. As I looked at them chewing on some meat, I started mentally composing lolcat situations, but all I could come up with was “NOM NOM NOMZ”. Well, you know, they were nomzing.
And here’s a strange thing – when people want to attract the attention of a zoo animal, they seem to automatically go with the noises they use at home to call their pet with. So there’ll be some guy whistling and clicking his tongue, trying to get a lizard to move.
The chimpanzee cage provided extreme entertainment value with three incidents.
1. The baby chimp was climbing up a rope net when he fell down. Immediately the momma chimp raced over and scooped up the bebby in her arms, then – with baby clinging to her underbelly – she gathered some hay to make a little bed for him. Awwww…
2. There was a ruckus outdoors, so all the indoor males went racing out to see what was going on. This involved lots of screaming.
3. After the ruckus subsided, one of the males came back inside and went over to his girlfriend and put his arms around her. “Aw, they’re hugging,” I thought, only to see the male push the female down and start to do it with her in the missionary position. But it didn’t last long – she appeared to get bored and walked away.
Inside the old elephant house, a sign noted that Wellington Zoo no longer had an elephant due to lack of space and budget, and that the zoo’s focus had moved from entertainment to education and conservation.
But wait – how come so many of the animal viewing areas are set up to the animals are on display to an audience? Why do people try to make sleeping animals move? Why do people laugh at the funny monkeys? Why are we entertained by zoo visits and don’t pay much attention to the educational aspects and even less to the conversation side of things?
Oh, such a dilemma! I suspect modern zoos are more old-fashioned and Victorian than zookeepers and visitors would care to admit.
Perhaps I should stick to being entertained by human beings, such as Mr Westerberg and Ms Jett.