My family returned today from a week-long trip to Southern California. Lots of blogging material there, but today, I’m going to write about what I learned about myself on this trip. And what I learned about myself on this trip is that animals are really boring.
Before we left for California, I did my research. Practically everyone I know told me that if I did not visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, I would be sorry. I heard it so often that I started to feel guilty that I’d not taken my boys there already. Busy planning the rest of the trip, I put Tom on safari detail, and asked him to reserve one of the safari park’s tours for us ahead of time, which he did, at $82 a pop. That’s right, $82 per person.
At $82 per person, I had expectations of this safari tour. It sounds dumb in retrospect, but for $82, I believed that I’d see, like, a lion chasing and eating a wildebeest. But it was not to be. After settling into our super-sized golf cart with two other families, a couple things quickly became apparent. First, this was a “conservation” park, meaning that they keep the predators and prey apart—lame; and second, without some predator-on-prey action, I had about a 0% chance of keeping my sons under control for the duration of the hour-long tour.
After the tour guide drove us up to our third herd of antelope chewing hay, I began to panic in earnest. At the fifth stop, Finn started asking, loudly, if he could play Fruit Ninja. Even Tate, who as a f-ing TODDLER should be way into animals, lost interest. At the zebra stop, when I turned my back for a moment to teach Finn a lesson about gratitude, Tate just walked off the golf cart, apparently headed back for the gift shop. As for his dad, Tom had entered the semi-catatonic state that he enters when faced with a kid-related situation that is not being handled. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t working. From the expression on his face, I knew that he was calculating the number of snacks in his backpack, and how far apart he would have to space them in order to keep the boys from going entirely AWOL.
The situation would have been stressful enough without having to worry about ruining the $82 safaris of the other six people on the golf cart. But then some of the other adults started asking questions like (true story) “Why did that giraffe sit down?” and “Do all these animals age in dog years?”, and I decided that these people deserved to have my children inflicted upon them. So instead of stressing, I sat back, and tried to enjoy the animals. And that’s when it occurred to me that I derive no pleasure whatsoever from the viewing of animals. The highlight of the tour was the white rhino, which, as the tour guide somberly informed us, will become extinct in our lifetimes. I put on my sad face, but it was hard to feel terribly torn up about the loss of this particular rhino species given that the rhino just sat in the mud for the 7 minutes we were parked in front of him. I couldn’t even tell he was a rhino for a while because the safari park has cleverly designed his habitat to include a bunch of gray boulders that look exactly like the rhino. Did I mention that the tour cost $82.
When all else fails, I enjoy animals when I can get really close to them and take photos that I can post on Facebook to show how close I was. But I was even foiled there. I mean, this is as close as we got. If I told you these were claymation animals, you’d be like, “Yes, I saw that movie, and it sucked.” I mean, those would have to be some pretty tall giraffes to be impressive from this distance. And they weren’t. They were really small giraffes.
So anyway, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Go, if you’re into that sort of thing. Or save your money for Legoland, where you can see beautiful animals, up close and personal.
Zoos are one of the few places that are supposed to be “entertaining” but really make me depressed. You can literally see the despair in the animals faces and attitudes, especially the apes. Giving wild animals food, grooming, and medical care so they “look” nice for the vistors doesn’t make them any happier. It’s sad that so many people are so disconnected that they can’t see this when they are there.
hey thor–it’s been a long time since i’ve met an adult who cops to enjoying a zoo. the problem is that once you have kids, you feel obligated to take them to the zoo, because kids are force fed a lot of books about animals, which results in the kids wanting to see animals, and the sad truth is that zoos are the easiest way to view them. so they can start feeling like a necessary evil. but i agree with everything you’ve said
Too funny! I’ve lived in Southern California my whole life and I’ve never been there. From your description, I think I’ll live the rest of my life without visiting. lol I’m not usually a big zoo fan either, but I do enjoy the San Diego Zoo.
Jesus, I know all things animal-related. TALK TO ME. I would have said just take the damn train.
how was i to know? i was worried you’d try to implicate me in some animal rescue
I could soooo go on a rant here. I feel the same way about all zoos, aquariums, sea parks and the like. Part of it is they are indeed boring and expensive, and part of it is I apparently have an issue with captivity because the whole thing just makes me bristle on the part of the animals. (And I promise I’m not a weird PETA person.) Anyway, the worst — absolute worst — was a natural history museum we went to a few years ago that had recreated a plains Indian scene with mannequins and stuffed animal specimens. Not only was it cheesy and boring to view a mannequin in a bad “Injun” outfit stalk a stuffed turkey with a spear, I had a kind of spiritual epiphany wherein I concluded that if we aren’t willing to stuff Aunt Edna and preserve her in a vintage living room diorama, then we ought to leave the animals alone, too.
that may be the first time that a diorama has inspired an epiphany. i’m with you, zoos are not my favorite
Those lego zebras are FINE!
i reached the conclusion (i’m sure it’s verifiable online somewhere but i am too lazy) that only the outer shells are made of legos, because otherwise it would be too time-intensive to build all those things. tom also thinks they are made from a special weatherproof material. these are the things you think about when you are stuck on kiddie rides for six hours
I think I just peed my pants. Didn’t I tell you to skip the safari? The only part of the park that my kiddies enjoyed was the Spongebob Squarepants ride.
WHAT spongebob squarepants ride? where was it?? not that it would have mattered. as soon as the tour was over i was like a bat out of hell
Ha ha!!! Very funny! I’d be interested in learning what else you guys did in SC. Another post soon, I hope. BTW, I just, moved to Pdx!!
hey bobby, welcome to portland!
just stumbled onto your blog the other day (reeled in by the “man sandals” also) and you are indeed pretty funny. i have to say that i think zoos are the dumbest things in the world (in addition to being arrogant and cruel). you would’ve had to sedate me to make me endure that tour. sounds like your kids are pretty bright, wanting to ditch the whole sad thing. have a good weekend & thanks for the post. 🙂
zoos are quite sad. especially the monkeys
Some Day you will have to drive up and go to the Pacific Northwest Animal Park in WA. Yes it is a conservation park, but you def get closer to the animals. I think you can even book a tour during meal time and while it doesn’t mean watching the mountain lion kill a deer, I do think that they eat real meat. My favorite part isn’t even the tram ride, it is the raptors in captivity area and the Grey Wolves Pen. The Cost is probably the same as San Diego though. Oh and it isn’t dry and arid either and the tour guides actually know stuff, although the schtick gets a bit dull after the fourth trip around – it doesn’t seem to change much year to year.
do they tape the meat to the car? i want to go to a place like that
This was a great Friday read. Thanks for the laughs, Yoona.
it wasn’t funny at all at the time but everything becomes funny in hindsight. happy friday min
It’s not any better at Disney either. Waited in a massive line for their safari and the best part was the kiddos watching half horse half zebra’s pooing. At least, however, the Animal Kingdom serves alcohol – you could walk off and chug a beer to numb your pain before the kids asked to do something equally as “enjoyable”.
Thx for this post – enjoyed it!
alcohol would have made things better, but then i might have neglected to get tate back on the cart. disneyland, the next frontier
LOL sooo Funny!!!!
I think I heard those same questions when my wife and I went there! “Why did that giraffe sit down?”…hilarious! I just wish we had small children to terrorize them. Luckily our niece worked at the park at the time so we only had to pay an hour of our lives to experience it.
a discount would have made things marginally more enjoyable
I love the look on Finn’s face, kinda tells all!
it absolutely does
You are SO funny! I’m from Sweden and I found your post by accident about man sandals and laughed so much I just had to share it with my friends on Facebook. I’m looking forward to your future posts. Greetings from Sweden!
hi ulrika. glad you enjoyed! i’m writing about legos next. i just looked up legos and apparently they are Danish, not Swedish, but please don’t let that stop you from visiting this blog again
No, that won’t stop me, quite the opposite, lego is the no 1 toy for most swedish kids and has been for at least 50 years. Amazing!