Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I went to the zoo the other day. (Yes, the zoo. I know it's 20 degrees out, but we still went to the zoo. The best part about the zoo in the heart of winter is no matching-shirt daycare groups or children on those leash things.) My favorite exhibits at the zoo are in houses. It's my theory that there's nothing worth seeing at the St. Louis zoo that's not in a house. There's the Bird House, the Snake House (more formally known as the Herpetarium) the Bug House (Insectorium), the newly-added Penguin House, the Ape House, and lastly the Monkey (Primate) House. 

Now I know some may think, what about the big cats? The elephants? The bears? I dislike these zoo animals for two main reasons. First, you're lucky if they're even out. These animals like to hide in the areas behind their exhibits - basically wherever they get fed. Half the time you can't even spot them and get frustrated when there's no animal even though the sign says there is. Second, if you happen to be fortunate enough to see these animals, all they're doing is laying. Laying and sleeping. For years I had hope that one day I would arrive at the zoo and see an elephant standing on its hind legs, or two bears having sex, or an angry lion lash out and attack a guy who's growling like a fool, but this never seems to happen. It's even to the point where I hope to see them pee or poop, but they can't even put on enough of a show to do a simple thing like that. This class of non-housed animals gets two thumbs down.

The housed animals, a.k.a the awesome animals, have never really let me down. Even on their off days, they still make funny noises and play with each other, or still look gross and fierce and make me think "Damnnn what if one of those got in my house and attacked me!!?" To illustrate this point about the housed animals, I'll share a story from this particular zoo trip.

I entered the Monkey House and (after gagging a few times and zipping my fleece up over my nose so I didn't pass out from the stench) began walking along the different glassed-in exhibits. I immediately heard sounds of joy and mischeif. I knew I was going to see some monkeys monkeying around. It wasn't long until I arrived at the lemurs. These lemurs were grayish and kind of small with very long tails. This species of lemur looked like a classier version of a raccoon. Like if a raccoon became a celeb and started working out and quit eating garbage and lost a lot of weight, it would be a lemur. (Like, raccoons are American Idol Kelly Clarkson and lemurs are "Since You Been Gone"-era Kelly Clarkson. Raccoons are shaved-head Britney, and lemurs are Circus-video Britney.) Anyway, it was clear that these lemurs were having a good time. They were the noisiest of the housed animals by far, and the most active. For starters, they can bounce off the glass walls. A little kid will be standing there watching them when all of the sudden they will bang into the glass right in front of him, as quickly as a bird who flies into glass and dies, except lemurs bounce right off, propelling themselves high into the air and onto the next branch or rock or fake zoo vine they can find. I knew I was in for a treat.

Anyway, there were 6 lemurs in this huge room of a cage and it was my hypothesis that they were a family. A grandpa, a mom, a dad, an eldest brother, middle sister, and younger brother. They played the roles to a tee. The g-pa lemur just sat in the corner stretching out his legs, mom and dad would get bagel pieces off the floor and give them to the kids, and the kid lemurs were just insane. The best part of my lemur experience (the reason why we watched them for half an hour) was because of the little bro lemur. He was the typical annoying, shit-disturbing little brother. Countless times he would look around carefully, sneak up behind another lemur, and pull its tail and bounce away. After he successfully did this, he would leap and swing all over the place in a dance of celebration. He did it to his big sister at least 10 times before she got pissed and raised her hands up at him. Then she began curling her tail up over her butt/back and holding it by her face. The lil bro moved on to his older bro, who also eventually got mad and flung himself toward his lil bro to fight. They fought for a while, clawing at each other and chasing each other around, then the little one ran and hid behind his mom and got some bagel pieces from her.

This type of behavior is why the housed animals are far superior to a hidden tiger or sleeping bear. The housed animals are just easier to identify with. I had this gut feeling that I totally descended from a lemur, then thought "Oh is this blasphemous?" then immediately "Who cares." If my siblings had tails, I would most definitely be pulling them, bouncing off glass walls.

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