March 27th, 2006


stupid zoo patron stories

I used to work at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo, which was free, so there was no filter on the stupid. Here are some of my favorite Stupid Zoo Patron stories.

1. I'd be holding a corn snake or small boa for people to pet in the Children's Zoo building and invariably, some adult would yank their entranced toddler away from me and ask, "Is that thing venomous?!?" Yes, lady, it's a spitting cobra. Just bring Junior a little closer, he was almost in range.

2. We had an outdoor exhibit with native Illinois wildlife in it. One day I walked out to check and there was a lady throwing popcorn into the turkey vulture cage. It was bouncing off the birds' heads while they regarded her with malevolent glares. "Ma'am, please don't do that." "Why not?" "Well, for one, we ask that patrons not feed any of the animals here. They're all on specialized diets. For two, those are vultures." "So?" she asked, puzzled. "They're carnivores, ma'am. They eat meat. They're really hoping that you'll fall dead close enough so that they can get a bite or two through the bars."

3. Another exhibit near the vultures was a sunken pool with otters in it. It had about a 3-foot wall on the patrons' side and and about a 6-foot dropoff on the animals' side, half-filled with water. Some guy had taken his 2 or 3-year old, in one of those collapsible "umbrella strollers", and lifted the entire thing, kid and all, over the wall and into the otter exhibit. Otters may look cute, but they are dog-sized carnivores with a mouthful of sharp teeth, and they were eagerly sniffing the kid's tennies. Fortunately, another keeper was elected to go confront this guy, because I would have gone OFF on him and he probably would have dropped the kid. She approached him calmly and said, "Um, sir, we don't generally recommend that the patrons feed their children to the animals." He at least had the grace to look sheepish and replied, "I guess this is pretty stupid, huh?" Um, yeah.

4. And my favorite story of all time: we had a section called the Farm In The Zoo with farm animals and agricultural exhibits. One of the volunteers had taken a milk goat out on a leash one day for the kids to pet. A yuppie lady in a Chanel suit comes by, looks at the goat, then the volunteer, then at the goat again with a puzzled look on her face. Then she says, "Excuse me, but why does this goat have two penises? Is that an abnormality?" The volunteer spluttered some explanation, but later reported she was really tempted to say, "Yes ma'am, but he's *real* popular around the barnyard."
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(no subject)

So, we all know it's good to read to your kids...right?

And we all know you should take every opportunity to educate them...right?

Well, my mom once knew a lady who took these two concepts a wee bit far. She used to - and, as far as we know, continues to - read to her kids in the car.


The sight of her struggling to hold the steering wheel and a storybook at the same time was enough to strike fear in the heart of any motorist...needless to say, her eyes were not exactly scanning the road.

And she reproduced...