We took an extended visit to the zoo yesterday (in DC) in lieu of the playground, and whoa, it was totally empty. Like no people at all. And while the kid was excited to see animals we usually don't--to be a glasspane away from an orangutan, or to have the panda to herself [or as she calls him, the "real panda," to distinguish from the stuffed pandas that clog the stores in the neighborhood], I felt horrible.
Maybe I've been watching the watering hole too much and my expectations are now too high, but the experience was kind of depressing. The animals were listless; the elephant looked emaciated, like a tarp thrown over a scaffold. I found myself peppering my answers to the kid's non-stop "wha da?" with imaginings of the animals' pent-up existential anguish. While I felt it was useful to teach the kid, I felt somewhat complicit in a giant exercise in animal cruelty.
So I hope you'll understand if, after watching Creature Comforts, Nick Park's 1989 Oscar-winning animated short about the inner lives of zoo animals, I officially become a self-hating zoo-goer for a while.
Watch Nick Park's Creature Comforts (5 min.) [atomfilms.com]
[btw, what category does zoo-hating go in? I'm not just grumpy, I'm stumped.]