A Day at the Zoo

You’d think that in a group of 12 college students, at any given time I’d be able to find at least one person willing to explore this city with me. I have found that is not so. The challenge of motivating friends to leave the house has been my biggest frustration this summer. I’ve learned that my housemates have vastly different priorities than me, and eating out in this food capitol doesn’t seem to be one of them. Or visiting major attractions, or spending a significant amount of time anywhere other than work and home. Krissi is the one person I can generally count on to be up for trying something new, so I’ve spent more time with her than anyone else.

Yesterday I went to the zoo by myself. I don’t mind the aloneness; solitude actually rejuvenates me. But still being somewhere like the zoo is much more fun when you have someone to share it with, someone to point things out to and exclaim over what you’re seeing. Despite that, I genuinely enjoyed myself.

I originally was going to go with Sarah, John and James, but all of them were tired/had work to do. So after brunch with Krissi, Michael, and Matthew (a couple of New Orleans friends), I checked to make sure no one else wanted to go and then went alone. I loved having the leisure to read every word of every sign, because people never want to wait for me to do that. My favorite animals were the peacock, the spider monkeys, the chameleon, and this really elegant-looking animal called the maned wolf, which looks like a long-legged fox. I love all the great cats, but it makes me sad to see them in cages. Life of Pi convinced me that well-cared for zoo animals are happy because they’re safe from predators and never hungry. But I still believe that every bird deserves open sky, and a jaguar just doesn’t belong behind glass. But people like their nature contained, and I’m just another tourist who paid to see animals in cages.

I spent a great deal of time in the reptile house, partly because they’re cool to watch but partly because it started raining buckets pretty soon after I got to the zoo. When the rain lessened, I continued walking through the zoo. It soon started pouring again but I decided I didn’t really care. It wasn’t like I was going to melt, and for the most part the animals didn’t hide from the rain either. So the only real disadvantage was that I couldn’t take pictures, because my camera was very thoroughly waterproofed. If there’s one thing I learned from my backpacking trip this past May, it’s how to waterproof effectively. I ducked into a cafe and wrapped my camera with napkins and then convinced the girl at the register to help me saran-wrap it. Then I double-bagged it with plastic bags from the gift shop. My baby was not going to feel a single drop.

At one point, I was walking between exhibits, eyes squinted against the pouring rain, cradling my cocooned camera in my arms, and I had to laugh at the picture I made. Soaked through, completely alone, I’m sure I looked pathetic. One guy actually asked me in front of the alligators, “Where’s your date?” Ummm… eaten by a crocodilian?