Tuesday, January 17, 2006


On Sunday, the Blah Blah family bundled up and went to the L.A. Zoo. We decided to become members, since (a) we live about 15 minutes away from the zoo and (b) Viva enjoys it. Now, quite some time ago, I remember hearing something about problems with the Zoo, particularly with its elephant exhibit, but since the Zoo has been undergoing extensive renovations for a while, I thought these were all resolved.

Are you already feeling the ka-thwonk! of foreshadowing as it settles upon your shoulders?

Viva's favorite animal at the Zoo is, of course, the elephant. Our goal was to visit the Zoo and see lots of animals along the way, but the zenith of our expedition was to be the elephant exhibit so Viva could get her fix.

Please note that I haven't been to the Zoo since Viva was young enough to deign to be carried in a baby backpack. She and Sweet William went to the Zoo together in December, while I was at home hacking up all manner of disgusting fluids, which is why we know that she is crazy for the elephant.

Once we got our temporary membership cards and sailed through the special membership entrance*, I said, "Okay, cool, let's go see some elephants!"

Sweet William said, "Well, there's really only one elephant. And he's in this really small enclosure, probably because everything is under construction."

Naively, I chirped, "Oh, I'm sure they've fixed that by now. Ooh, look, sea lions!"

So in our roundabout way (or really, the roundabout way of the Zoo, because nothing there is linear), we ambled through the Zoo, looking at flamingos and lions and zebras, and finally, we got to the elephant enclosure.

There was one elephant there, standing in one place, facing away from the crowd, and swinging his head repeatedly up and down (which we later learned is a neurotic behavior caused by being in too small a space). His enclosure looked hardly bigger than my living room. I felt kind of sick.

"This is not good," Will said.

"Yeah, he looks kind of depressed, yet agitated," I said.

As this was supposed to be the zenith of our trip, but in fact turned out to be the nadir instead, it cast a pallor over it all. However, Viva was already tired and we had already determined that once we saw the elephant, we would head back out. This we did, and ran into a pamphleteer outside the Zoo exit who urged us to sign a petition to help the elephants. I stopped and signed the petition and then wrote a postcard to my City Council Member.

I'm feeling all kinds of weird about it. We're now Zoo members, but we've discovered that the Zoo is mistreating some of the animals, so now I'm in the awkward position of both supporting and not supporting the Zoo.

Here's a link to Last Chance for the Animals, which explains why we should be pissed off about these poor elephants. If you live in the area and give a damn about it, click on the link and it will direct you to an online petition as well.

Shit. I have always been an animal lover (not in the bestial sense, thank you). This creeps me out.

* I made this up, and I can't help thinking of "The Special People's Club" in Welcome to the Dollhouse. WHAT??? You haven't seen Welcome to the Dollhouse? Okay, I'm going to sit right here while you go out and rent it. Make yourself some popcorn, settle in with a drink, and hit "play." After you finish watching it and have your bathroom break -- Hey! Wash your hands! -- come on back and let's talk. Did you not love that movie? Do you see what I'm saying about the Special People's Club?

Dawn: ...do you want to join my "Special People's Club?"
Steve: Special people?
Dawn: Yeah.
Steve: Do you know what "special people" means?
Dawn: What?
Steve: Special people equals retarded. Your club is for retards.

All the more fitting, given what we learned after we joined the damn Zoo. I admit to feeling a bit retarded.

No comments: