This afternoon, I was listening to NPR, or maybe it was PRI, with John Hockenberry, I think it was, who introduced a segment featuring an article some guy wrote for Outside magazine about zoos. It’s no surprise that the author believes zoos no longer serve a useful purpose and may be harmful to the animals. In the piece, they talked about the fact that many of the animals don’t fare too well in cages and some are even treated with anti-depressants. The animals would probably rather be in the wild, though one wonders how well they’d fare there after years of captivity. The host said we’d never know what the animals think about their lodgings because they can’t really be polled. But if they could be polled, or if we could speak to the animals so to speak and do a focus group or something, here’s what they might say:
Zookeeper: How do you find your room?
Polar Bear: A little on the cold side. Keep having to sleep with my thermals on. And the coffee, come on, enough with the K-cups already. Doesn’t anyone care about the enviroment anymore? I miss the sound of the percolator from back in the day.
Zookeeper: Apart from the coffee and the cold, anything else?
Polar Bear: I have a beef with the Polar soda they sell around here. I mean, when is that outfit from MA sending me some royalties? Now that they’ve acquired Deep South beverages, from my neck of the woods, I am entitled. Send me a lawyer – you know I never authorized my mug for the Polar logo. I’ll buy this place and turn it into a ski lodge. Water skiing lodge, more like it since the dang polar ice cap melted away, which is why I’m in this joint in the first place.
Zookeeper: You sound a little disgruntled.
Polar Bear: I’m being exploited. I’ll have you know I’m an union organizer and you can’t stop us, unless you throw me some Alaskan salmon every now and then, say on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Zookeeper: Mr. Snake. How could we make your stay more pleasing?
Snake: For starters, you can remove the plexiglass. I’m tired of people taking selfies with me as I try to catch some zzzzz’s. I’m not a violent sort, but some days I’d like nothing better than to envenomate a zoo patron or two.
Zookeeper: How is your food?
Snake: Never mind the food, just put me out on a sun warmed rock. This flourescent lighting you got in here gives me migraines. And I’d like to work on my tan. One more thing – can you get me a new roommate? The spitting viper has got no class, no class at all. At the very least, get the guy a spittoon.
Zookeeper: Sir Tiger, do you have any suggestions for improving the zoo?
Tiger: Look, can you get me some wilderbeasts? This pink slime you keep throwing me is not even fit for a taco. And these cougars you got in here, they burn incense all day. I mean, can you get me an air purifier or some Claritin. My allergies are acting up.
Zookeeper: Anything else?
Tiger: Just one more thing. A few of us would like to be zoo guides, just to liven things up. It’d just be me, Zippy the hippo, Dusty the black bear, Leo the laughing hyena and Clowny the rattlesnake. We’d like to lead the zoo patrons to a hands on tour of the inside of the lion enclosure. The lions have been feeling rather lonely lately.