I took my kids to Como Zoo, a free, urban treasure in St. Paul Friday. Saturday my wife and I took them to the Minnesota Zoo, a so-so, but far-from-free zoo south of The Cities. I hope this isn’t news to you but zoos are lame as shit. Now before you fire off an angry letter, I’ll grant you that some aren’t. The San Diego Zoo is top-notch. So is the zoo in Omaha if I remember correctly. But, as a whole, they’re pretty stupid, and if you enjoy them, and you’re older than 11, so are you. If I wanted to watch a lousy animal lazing around and scratching himself, I’d get a big goddamned mirror and stay home. You may say, “But Tom, these are animals you will never see anywhere else!” Maybe so. But I have seen similar animals and I have a good imagination. You go to the zoo. I’ll stay home.
“I saw a Komodo Dragon,” you’ll tell me.
“It was awesome!”
“What did it look like?”
“Have you ever seen a lizard?”
“Like that, only bigger.”
I’ll close my eyes. “Okay, let me think… Yep. Got it.”
“We saw some Gorillas, Orangutans, and Lemurs.”
“I went to Walmart, so, me too.”
“We saw some beautiful tropical fish.”
“I’ve seen fish.”
“But these were colorful.”
I’ll close my eyes. “Okay, let me think of the fish I have seen…now I’ll picture them different colors. Got it. You’re right, though. They are pretty.”
“We saw a zebra.”
“A horse. With stripes. Got it. Sounds nice.”
And on and on. Still, I don’t hate going and would take my kids even if I did, of course. But while they are marveling at flamingos (geese, with hooked bills, long legs and pink feathers. Got it) you will find me people watching, studying how people interact with each other, watching family dynamics, and making mental notes for future blog posts.
What mental note did I make on these recent trips? [Idea for blog post] Yes, zoos are a stupid waste of time, but so is life. You spend time with your family on the Minnesota Trail; if you’re smart you kick around the Tropical Trail a little; you have something to eat; you smile at the people you meet; you step on a few toes; you have a few laughs; and in the end, you get tired and you go home.