Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Petting Zoo"

The zoo very wisely calls it the “Kids’ Farm,” thus lowering expectations that anyone will be able to pet anything. And it is highly unlikely that a visitor will be able to pet anything: the rabbits are always untouchable in their protected shed, and the donkeys, cows, alpacas and goats tend to stay under trees, or in the middle of the grass, or in the center of their enclosures, meditatively chewing in the fashion of ruminants and exhibiting no interest whatsoever in being caressed by small children (or adults, for that matter).

The people, on the other hand, are full of excitement, and, having overheard a number of parent-child conversations, I’m left wondering if kids are taught at an early age to point and exclaim self-evidently, “Look! A cow!”—or if we all have an atavistic need to share the pleasure of seeing something with others by informing them of what they’re already seeing for themselves. (Sometimes we like to do it by asking a question, like, “Do you see the goat?!”) It also makes me curious about the way that we—myself included—react to the approach of an animal by saying, “Hello, [insert animal name here].” Is it a knee-jerk courtesy, like saying “bless you” when someone sneezes? Is it evidence of our desire for inter-species connection? Do we imagine the animals have any idea what we’re talking about?

But the petting zoo—excuse me, “kids’ farm”—is a lot of fun, since it’s entertaining (at least, for an urbanite like me) to watch the behaviors of even relatively common animals like these domestic ones. It’s fun to see the donkeys gnawing intently on logs, the goats raise their heads in unison at the sound of a car stereo blasting on Rock Creek Parkway, the newly sheared alpacas lounging luxuriously in the grass.

["Did you hear that awful music, Gladys?"
"Terrible! I prefer Lady BaaBaa myself."]

Plus, the goats have a little play-set to clamber around on, and there is almost nothing better than seeing goats hanging out on equipment you remember from fourth-grade recess.

Well, seeing the goats butt the brats you remember from fourth-grade recess: that would be even better.

1 comment:

Naomi said...

I love that last goat photo.

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