Zoo Signs

I love going to the zoo.cheetahs

The child in my heart loves the pure fun of seeing the animals.

The parent in me loves to see the wonder in my own children’s eyes.Ivy and Jane at the zoo

The former raptor educator in me firmly believes that people have to see and experience an animal to care enough to really learn about it.

And the eavesdropping busybody in me loves to be appalled at the misinformation other parents bestow on their children.

It baffles me that people guess at the name of the animal before them when the enclosures are covered with signage. I cringe to hear a mother shout to her son that the caribou are moose.caribou

But the biggest overheard misnomer was at the iguana enclosure.

A mother standing next to me was trying very hard to point out a snake that was in with the iguana. Her kids were looking but they couldn’t see it. I looked and didn’t see it. Then I looked at the signs (because that’s what I do at a zoo – read the signs) and didn’t see anything that said there was a snake in there.  So I moved on, following my own kids. John however had a hunch. He stayed. He looked. He peered. He read signs. He listened to her describe the snake’s position in detail. It was confirmed. The mother was trying hard to show her children “snakes” of iguana poop.camel

Go to the zoo, bring a child, look at the wonder in their eyes, teach them something new.

It’s OK, you don’t need to worry about me, I’ll still love the zoo for all it’s fun, and wonder and education.  It’ll be fine if you read the signs first.

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12 comments on “Zoo Signs

  1. Natalie says:

    While I do prefer an aquarium to a zoo I too am amazed by daftness of folk. For example we have the most wonderful wildlife park not too far from home. It’s a great place to see lions and giraffes and the like. The last time I visited the giraffe enclosure was full of people complaining of the stink rather than marvelling at the wonder of the huge and extremely beautiful creature in front of us.

    Great post Jessie. Happy New Year.

    • Jessie says:

      It’s so frustrating to hear people complain of things like that. Worse than missing the forest for the trees, it’s like missing the forest for the smell of decaying log… or something… 🙂 Happy New Year to you too!

  2. Dan says:

    I’m always in two minds about zoos (uh is that the plural of zoo? It looks wrong..). On the one hand, like you, I marvel at the animals. Often it’s my only exposure to them and I feel privileged to see them up close. We saw the tigers on my last visit to a zoo, and I love the meerkats and otters😊 On the other hand, the enclosures never feel big enough and I feel guilty for looking. Adding yet another ugly human face to the rows of ugly faces staring into the enclosure. Does that make sense? I think it was Dublin zoo that had a large, rolling grassy plain for the Caribou to roam while we peered down from suspended walkways, which was better. I also got to stand right next to a llama and – when he seemed agreeable – stroke him. While I appreciate the work zoos do to save endangered species and educate people, it’s sad to see the whole commercial side of it and I feel for the animals who have no choice but live that life. It feels like a popularity contest and it has to be to keep the visitors coming. When we saw the gorillas at London Zoo it was horrible that the path around their enclosure seemed to give them no escape from all the screaming children and their parents tapping the glass (yep, they didn’t read the signs!)

    • Jessie says:

      I know just how you feel. I personally avoid the monkeys and great apes at all costs, they make me sad. When I did the bit of education we always referred to the birds we used as “animal ambassadors” because it was their job to educate people about their species. It was a bit different in that the birds we used were often injured and unable to return to the wild but we also only used individuals who were “willing and able” to do the programs. I like to think that something similar happens with zoos. And no matter what I like the “animal ambassador” term. They may not have a perfect life, and while zoos have gotten so much better with their enclosures, even from what I remember as a kid, they can always get better. I do think that those animals do a very important job for their species. And if people would just read the stinkin signs their daily lives would be even better without all the glass tapping!

  3. My personal pet peeve, and it goes with the whole giving misinformation and not reading the signs, is the whole “Mommy, Daddy, Baby” designation some parents have to insist on. It’s usually just based on the size of the animals, regardless of the sex of the animal, or how it’s family unit might function. I like this post a lot, lovely photos.

    • Jessie says:

      Yes! That drives me crazy too. It’s such a learning opportunity, why dumb it down incorrectly for kids?!? (And thanks for the photo complements and tweeting! 🙂 )

  4. Holly says:

    Alright then…I am guessing they saw a lot of reptiles that day then? 😀

    • Jessie says:

      The zoo was free for the afternoon and we didn’t have a lot of time for the size of the place so everyone got to pick the thing they wanted to see the most. Ivy choose the aquarium and reptile house, we went there first and looked at *everything*!

  5. N. says:

    Well if nothing else people’s inability to read signs at a zoo is at least entertaining 😂

  6. Susie says:

    My favorite zoo visit was at the Henry Vilas Zoo on a snowy day. The polar bear was sliding down the “rocks” chin first to the pool and going back up to repeat the fun. It was apparent that the bear was really having fun and enjoying the cool weather. At least I think it was a polar bear… 😉

    • Jessie says:

      Did you forget to read the sign?? 😉

      I’ve liked the few times we’ve gone to the zoo in the winter. Fewer animals but so much more activity in the ones that are out!

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