It was during a recent day trip to the Toronto Metro Zoo that I was struck with a realization that most of the people visiting the site that day were on the wrong side of the bars, if you know what I mean.
As much as I love the concept of the zoo, the work to educate and promote a global perspective on the planet, I have to tell you, from what I saw, all the baby white lions and polar bears in the world could not fix the atrocities of the general public in attendance on a typical Sunday afternoon.
Back when school was in session (teachers, I miss you!), my son did a report on orangutans. He really wanted to see one up close and personal. I suggested we have a family reunion. (ba-dum-dum) Then it hit me; the zoo is only a treacherous drive across the top of the 401 in the middle of summer road construction. Let’s go.
Bravely, I took the children on my own. I say bravely because I am directionally challenged, so it’s a good the zoo is well laid out by continents and road signs. Phew.
Unfortunately, the place was also a minefield of baby strollers, and let me assure you, some of them were as big as the SUV’s they came out of, and equally as dangerous when backing up. A hostile Mommy pushing a double barrel, fully loaded, carriage monstrosity through the narrow pathway of a flower garden nearly knocked me down in Mozambique. In the Arctic, some rogue Daddy with a red wagon, complete with a Prairie caravan sunroof and drink holders decided to make a sudden stop and almost took me out at the knees.
Thankfully, I had forgotten how dangerous strollers could be, or how powerful. I remember fondly making people dodge our inline two-seater back in the day. Good times. So glad I’m not doing that again.
But the prize for me was the huge family, a convoy of strollers carrying unruly but very fashionable toddlers, pushed by Mommies in the highest heeled shoes they could find, (because sensible footwear is simply passé) mini-skirts and halter tops pushing through the crowds with Lady Ga Ga’s song “Poker Face” blasting on a portable stereo device. Yep. I couldn’t make that up.
I swear I saw a penguin stop at the glass and tap it so his buddies could witness the spectacle.
The best moment was when one woman screamed because a Canada Goose was underneath a picnic table. She was terrified. Her friend asked her, “do you think it will lay an egg?” Oh, how I wish I were kidding.
But then there was a splash pad. It made me sad that the zoo had to stoop to the same level of entertainment, as every other destination seems too. Instead of lining up to see the near extinct animals, like the rare jaguar or the white lions, the splash pad was where everyone wanted to be. After all, the parents had to check their emails in the shade. Even my own kids whined and made me miss the kangaroos in favor of a giant sprinkler pad. Hmph. So I pulled out my phone and took a picture.
What is the world coming too? Since when isn’t the sheer excitement of seeing a real giraffe, zebra, or the giant gorillas enough to enjoy without needing a soundtrack or a water slide? Maybe there is an app for that too.