Saturday, July 14, 2007


A while back, Nathalie and I spent an afternoon wandering around the Audubon Zoo. It was an overcast day and surprisingly cool for New Orleans. However, despite the cool temperatures, the animals were not interested in doing anything else other than napping.

The big cats were all passed out and asleep. So were the rhinos. The zebras stood huddled in a group. The giraffes simply paced back and forth. Even the attention craving primates, who are often goofing off, were just sitting around simply observing the observers with disinterest.

But I can understand. If I were locked up, I'd be pissed too. Imprisoned for the curiosity and amusement of others? No wonder monkeys fling poo.

One thing though, I've never been a big fan of the reptile exhibit. It's not that I'm terrified of snakes or lizards, or grossed out by them. It's just that I get tired of having to look for them and find them in their terrariums. Being that they're not very animated to begin with, and being that they're quite well adapted at camouflage, each terrarium we come across is an exercise in trying to ferret out a sniper.

There shouldn't be that degree of thinking and problem solving involved at the zoo. By the time we get to the 10th tank, I've got a small headache from all the peering and concentrating.

Me: [reading the placard] Hmm... this is some kind of a horny toad.

Nathalie: [scanning the tank] I don't see him.

Me: Is that it?

Nathalie: No, that's a rock.

Me: What's that under the leaves?

Nathalie: No, that's nothing. Oh look, there he is.

[We look at the motionless toad. Nothing happens. It might as well be a rubber model.]

[I decide to tap the tank.]

Me: [tap! tap!]

This accomplishes nothing, except earn me a look of disdain from the zoo keeper/security person.

To be honest, if there was some kind of zoo catastrophe and 50% of the reptile exhibit died, they could easily replace them with high quality plastic models and I'd never know the difference. Even the famed "White Alligator" looks like a white plaster model dunked in a large tank of green water.

Oh wait, there was a zoo catastrophe. Hurricane Katrina. How could I forget?

Well, I wonder if these animals are real...