Thursday, February 19, 2009

Monkeys in the Zoo--People in Cages

I took Soccer Tot to the zoo this morning. I planned a 2-1/2 hour visit, allowing for my energy level and her nap time . But we no sooner got through the gate than official-looking people with walkie-talkies appeared on the path, saying, "this path is closed, please go to the bug house or the bird aviary." When I asked, they said they were having "animal issues." I wondered if something big and dangerous was on the loose, looking for small children to snack on. It turns out a male monkey--a small male monkey--escaped from his habitat and was leading the whole staff on a merry chase.

We went to the bug house, as directed. We walked past the bird aviary, where we saw people crowded into the cage, looking out longingly. (I hope the monkey got a kick out of that as he roamed about. Maybe he was tempted to tap on the glass as payback.)

Soccer Tot and I wanted to see furry animals, but we respectfully looked at each of the bugs so they wouldn't feel slighted. It was OK until someone else's child started having a temper tantrum--loud and long--in the confined space. I was ready to burst out the door screaming, "I'd rather face the monkey!" The official-looking walkie-talkie folks saved my sanity by evacuating us through a service area to a parking lot. They evacuated the whole zoo, filling the parking lot with crying babies in strollers and impatient children saying, "but Mommy why can't we go see the people chase the monkey?" The ever-hopeful staffers kept saying, "it should only be about 10 more minutes." But those "10 minute" increments finally added up to more than an hour, so I asked for passes to come back another day.

As a consolation prize, I took Soccer Tot to McDonald's for a happy meal and playtime on the equipment. While sitting with a Chinese grandmother who leaped up every few minutes to force another morsel into the mouth of her non-stop grandkid, I mused that McDonald's at lunchtime is very much like a zoo, with little human animals climbing and running and shrieking. All it lacked was some uniformed people with walkie-talkies and a veterinarian with a tranquilizer dart. Oh, and people leading me past the garbage cans to the parking lot!

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