For years and years, our family had a membership to our zoo, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. It's a wonderful zoo, and one which has terrific natural habitats like an African Savanna, Wolf Wilderness, RainForest, and Australian Outback. I rode the camels twice and always feed the lorikeets, loving how they land right on my shoulder or my hand as I walk carefully through the enclosure. I've been whistled at admiringly by the African grey parrots, and I've sweet-talked the red pandas out of their little wooden treehouse more than once. I love our zoo, and our family has gone there many, many times. The boys and I made good use of our membership in the summertime, taking guests, rejoicing at the birth of baby animals newly on display (especially awkward young giraffes), and learning not only about different species and biomes, but also about respecting the animals in their homes at the zoo.
After so many years, we started to feel like Zoo Insiders. We started skipping parts of the zoo that weren't that interesting to us. We scoffed at people who wondered aloud if our zoo had panda bears. Duh! We hated the people who read each and every exhibit sign aloud, unless they were reading it to very small children. It drove us crazy when parents let their kids bang on the glass of the animal enclosures when there were enormous signs everywhere that clearly said not to. But we reserved our deepest scorn for two types of people in particular.
The first type wears Inappropriate Zoo Footwear. The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is a very walkable zoo, but it has lots of hills and winding paths. Despite this terrain, we would still find hundreds of people wearing flipflops, high wedge sandals, kitten heel pumps, and on one memorable visit, stiletto heels. And those Dr. Scholl's sandal thingies with only the strap across the toe and that terrible bump for your toes to cling to. We would see person after person sitting alongside paths or stopped on the hillside terrace, taking off footwear in order to rub his/her feet or remove grit. No sympathy.
The second type is the Pompous Sign Reader/Fake Pontificator. Every single zoo exhibit has an informational sign, sometimes two. And unfailingly, some mom or dad will read information from it as if he or she simply knows this information cold about this exotic animal, like it is so important to impress this kid. The boys and I saw this time and time again, and it was always hilarious and pathetic. But never more than the time in front of the sloth's cage. Because this mom, as she read the sign word for word, kept pronouncing it "slooth." As in "rhymes with tooth." On and on she pontificated, in a very fakey, hyper-engaging, "oh boy, is this ever fun and interesting" breathless voice, just about every line of the plaque's summary about the sloth. "Wow!" she said. "So that's the slooth! Whaddya think, kids? The two-toed slooth!" I thought I would die. (Actually, I probably did die, right there in Cleveland, for a little while, and then Jared and Sam scraped me up off the asphalt and pulled me over to look at koalas, or maybe even flamingos, which always revive me.)
**For the record, that word again is SLOTH. Only one O. I am still Not Over It.**
(Really, now. Does she pronounce the word BOTH as booth? Is an APRICOT an APRICOOT? I mean, how far does this disability extend? When she shops for chicken broth, does she think it's chicken BROOTH?)
I'M DONE NOW. MOVING ON.
And speaking of done, that ends the alphabet for me. Chat me up about your Zoo Thoughts, your own Z Words, or topics you'd like me to take up next.