Monday, April 07, 2008

Address: Zoo

Dearest Elephant,

Hello! It's me again. I appreciated how close you came to the viewing areas within your large habitat. It gave me a chance to see how well you use your trunk. I had no idea that you were so dexterous! Not only can you twist the end of your snout around the clump of grass, remove it and carry it to your mouth, you can apparently distinguish between tasty grasses and nasty weeds. Wow. I was both charmed and impressed.

I was sorry, however, that despite the friendly zookeeper informing the crowd that you and your companions were female, people insisted upon saying, "Look at him!" or "He's going over there!" As if something so large and utterly cool wasn't ladylike. They were idiots. I thought you were majestic and wonderful and was happy to call you with the correct pronouns.

I know I stayed to watch you for a rather long time. But - apart from the whole trunk thing - I liked how you'd turn to watch your trainers as they wandered by you. I loved how you'd often pause with one foot barely touching the ground as if you were posing for photos. And though Friend took the first photo - which was by far better than most of mine - I think my affection was far greater. In fact, all the people who watched you seemed far less entranced and impressed than I was. If I had a trunk, I would help you collect the tastiest grass. If I had giant ears, I would flap them at you with great affection. And though I did get a bit pink from standing too long in the sunshine so I could continue to coo over and smile at you, I hope you enjoyed the lovely weather today.

With lots of love from your biggest (though with small nose and ears) fan,

Colorful bird,

Friend told me you would peck my eyes out if I scared you. This is why I refused to take off my sunglasses while I was in your little space behind the doors and plastic chains that kept you safely inside. I need to see to do my job (and to write my blog and read other blogs, frankly). So I'm glad I made it out unscathed.

Though I only went in because Friend insisted, I was greatly amused when - after I jumped back and almost fell down when one of your friends flapped too close to me and startled me (Not the eyes! Please spare my vision!), the small girl next to me whined to her father that your friend was gross because he pooped in front of everyone. A mixture of relief that I was not under attack and amusement at her horror made me laugh until my sides hurt. So it was worth it. And I suppose you are quite lovely, though I only appreciated it through Friend's photo here. She's very brave. And I will remain your admirer, but only at a distance and preferably through thick glass or with some sort of protective helmet.

Flap, flap, peck, peck (but not at any eyes) -

What's up, Meerkat?

I told Friend you were my favorite of the bunch - and there were a lot of you - simply because you looked so relaxed about the crowds around your cage, facing them with your little face in a shadow and looking so comfortable in your slouch there. It was rather warm in the late afternoon, wasn't it? I think my cheeks got sunburned while I was watching the elephants for so long and when we got around to your area, I was growing a little sweaty and just a little cranky. And while I don't like to complain (well, not always, anyway), Friend said I could have a snow cone if I was good in the reptile house. And I only tried to run away once! Because the bats scared me! Flying stuff freaks me out. And while I wouldn't look at the snakes, did I not tell her to take her time admiring the awful creatures? But then the snack line was too long and I decided I didn't want to wait for 30 minutes to get ice with red syrup. So I was hot and thirsty and seeing you made me smile.

Many thanks, Katie

Darling Giraffe,

You, my dear, are a show off. I remember when we saw you a couple of years ago and you didn't leave the safety of your large wall of rock. But this year, I daresay you preened in front of the crowd! And you are very handsome. I hear your the edges of your spots are slightly unusual in their jagged pattern. So, you know, way to go with that. And when I heard you weighed nearly 2000 pounds, I immediately turned to Friend and told her you carried it very well. I wouldn't have put you an ounce over 1000, though I don't know many giraffes and so would not be great at judging such things.

I also heard that you'll be breeding with one of your ladyfriends in the next few years. So I hope that goes well for you and everything. But, just as a warning, if there was a baby giraffe in there, people wouldn't notice you at all. So make sure you bask in the attention now so that you can step aside and be a brilliant father when the time comes.

Fondly, Katie

Hello, Tiger:

I'll be honest. I was officially hot and tired and growing annoyed with the kids by the time we got to you. They wouldn't stop pulling on the plants next to the paths and they kept running around and bumping into me and stepping on Friend and being generally rude and I grew vaguely irritated. "Don't tap on the glass!" I wanted to tell them. "Or yell at the animals!" So when Friend turned to where I was standing out of the way and announced she got a photo of you taking care of some private business, I shook my head and told her that was great. Because she is delightful and got me in for free when she purchased a membership. And I'm pretty sure I could have had a snow cone if I'd have waited in line. So I like her. And I liked you too - you're very pretty. But I hope you get ample private time in your off hours. Oh, and not that it's your problem, but the restrooms we used could have used some attention.

Pleasant peeing, Katie

Dear Leopard,

I left the little structure with the viewing windows because it was overly warm in there, not because I didn't want to look at you for longer. So it was with great pleasure and appreciation that I noticed you wander over to the fence where I stood to wait for Friend. This allowed us to try to photograph you and the lovely pattern on your coat. And look at your paws! I thought you sleek and graceful and very much enjoyed watching you wander and leap around your habitat.

I did have a few questions for you though. Do you have enough room in there? Would you like me to write a letter for you? And didn't you think it was sad that when the little girl paused next to me, watching you with wide eyes, her mother tugged her away to go inside the awful, hot building? Because you couldn't be seen from that window anymore. And after finding you, said little girl didn't even get to enjoy you for very long. But I did. Sometimes being a grown up is nice. (Another example could be the two glasses of wine I've consumed this evening if you're keeping track.)

Inquisitively and appreciatively (and slightly drunkenly) yours,

Mr. Ape,

We were preparing to depart when we saw you swinging from the ropes and trees. Having missed you when we arrived (you must have been otherwise occupied), I was pleased that you were out and about. As any number of your friends occupying the zoo could tell you, I was overly warm and tired by the end of the day and welcomed the chance to slump on a bench and watch your antics. The swinging was absolutely delightful. And those noises you made - the calls of different types, I believe? Truly impressive and entertaining.

And while those are some long arms you have there, I felt convinced that at some points, you were speaking to us with your noises. You'd stare down at the group of people who came when you called and I remembered how exceptional you - and all your zoo-mates, really - are. I hope you have very lovely lives and that you're happy and well cared for in your various homes.

All the best,

P.S. Sorry about calling you a monkey before. Luckily, there are people out there to help you out. If it lessens the insult at all, I did think you were a very large monkey. And, if it wasn't abundantly clear already, I'm not so up on the animal knowledge. Probably should have stopped composing letters in my head and read some signs, shouldn't I?


Psychgrad said...

I think it would be funny to hear the animals' perspectives. The elephant is thinking:

As usual, groups of people came to visit me. One lady stayed for a while. She watched me eat in amazement. After staring at me for 20 minutes, she turned a light shade of pink and walked away.

Dr. Brazen Hussy said...

Ahem. That's not a monkey. That's an ape. (Sigh. My work is never done.) :)

post-doc said...

I was amazed. And though I walked away, she would have had to also note that I was back again. Oh, and one more time with the staring. I did love them very much.

Dr BH:
Oops. :) I did fix it when I read your comment if that makes me look any less species-ignorant. (I suspect it does not.)

Dr. Brazen Hussy said...

Thank you for the correction! I forgive you, and I suspect the siamang will too.

post-doc said...

Dear Dr. BH,

You are very skilled at identifying creatures through not-great pictures! I'm very impressed. If I had giant ears, I would flap them at you in appreciation. Then I would wish I knew something cool.

Your faithful reader who remains ignorant of species designations but grateful for the help in correcting her errors,

Dr. Brazen Hussy said...

(just this particular group of beasts that I happen to be an expert on... shhh...)

Estrella said...

What a fun, whimsical entry. :)

Citronella said...

This is all very well written, I say. The animals would be delighted to read those letters, I'm sure. And it would be a nice change from the children's screams.

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