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    Bad Parents Bug Us

    | Southern California, USA | Family & Kids, Pets & Animals, Top, Wild & Unruly

    (I am an intern giving a tour at my local zoo. The first stop is the butterfly & moth exhibit, where guests can go inside with animals. I give them the rules and instructions which include staying on the path/off the plants, no grabbing the animals, etc. Once we are inside, I see two children, approximately 6 and 8 years old, climbing all over the plants, trying to grab butterflies in their fists and bothering other guests. I do not see their mother, so I speak up.)

    Me: “Excuse me, boys. You need to stay on the path. You aren’t allowed to climb on the plants, and you definitely aren’t allowed to grab the animals like that.”

    (At that moment, their mom comes running out from behind a tree, clearly on her cell phone.)

    Mother: “Hey, you can’t tell my kids what to do! If there’s a problem you come talk to me!”

    Me: “Ma’am, I’m sorry, but I didn’t see you, and your children were damaging the exhibit.”

    Mother: “What?! No, they weren’t! They are angels!”

    Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, but they were climbing all over the plants and crushing them. There were also trying to grab the butterflies, which we do not allow.”

    Mother: “So? My boys are having fun. They can do whatever they want!”

    Me: “No, they are not. We have rules, and if you cannot follow them, you will be asked to leave the butterfly house and you will not allowed to remain a part of this tour.”

    Mother: “Your rules don’t make any sense. You just want to stop everyone from having fun!”

    Me: “No, ma’am, but it is my job to ensure that guests do not damage the exhibit.”

    Mother: “But you can just plant more plants, and the butterflies will be fine!”

    Me: “The butterflies will most certainly not be fine! Grabbing them like that will kill them!”

    Mother: “KILL?! How dare you say that in front of my children?! You are damaging them for life!” *turns to her boys* “Don’t worry, she’s lying! The buggies will be fine. You just keep playing!”

    (Despite my warnings, the mother refuses to intervene, so I have her and her children removed from the park. As she is being escorted out by security, she turns to me.)

    Mother: “You’re nuts! They’re just stupid bugs!”

    (Not a smart thing to say to an entomology student.)

    As Long As It’s A Tofu Hat

    | USA | Pets & Animals

    (I am a zookeeper, and am taking care of five lions which are new arrivals. We’ve set up a natural habitat for them and they are ready to be introduced to their new home. I press the button that raises the gate between their cage and the habitat, and they begin to examine their new surroundings. As I do this, I get tapped on the shoulder by a visitor.)

    Visitor: “New arrivals?”

    Me: “Yes, just got here this morning.”

    Visitor: “What do they eat?”

    Me: “Well, meat, of course.”

    Visitor: *nods* “I thought so. Then, I am just in time. We need to protect these poor animals!”

    (The visitor hands me a poster about being a vegetarian. I look at it, and then look back at her.)

    Me: “So these lions should NOT eat meat?”

    Visitor: “No, of course not! There are enough healthy alternatives, as listed on this poster!”

    Me: “I don’t think the lions would agree with that. However, they do eat vegetarians; cows and so on, you know. Nature.”

    Visitor: “Oh, no!” *turns to the lions* “I’ll bring tofu tomorrow, you’ll like it!”

    (As she leaves, a female coworker who has overheard the conversation chimes in.)

    Coworker: “If she can do that, I’ll eat my hat!”

    Maturity Can Be A Tall Order

    | USA | Pets & Animals

    (At our zoo, during certain times of the day, guests can buy lettuce to feed our giraffes on an observation deck.  One day a man comes up with his family carrying a couple of leafy branches.)

    Guest: “Hey, I found these branches in the woods around the zoo.  Can I feed these to the giraffes.”

    Me: “No, sorry, sir.  The zookeepers determine the diets of the giraffes, and we really can’t feed them anything the keepers haven’t approved.  If you would like to feed them, you can purchase some lettuce.”

    Guest: *disappointed* “Okay, I guess that makes sense.  I’ll get a few pieces of lettuce for my kids.”

    (I return to selling lettuce to other guests, when out of the corner of my eye I see the man holding the branches just out of reach of the male giraffe’s tongue.  The giraffe is clearly desperate to get the leaves, and the man is grinning. My coworker apparently witnesses this as well.)

    Coworker: “Sir, please stop teasing the giraffes.”

    Guest’s Wife: *to her husband* “You’re a 36-year-old man.  You should know better!”

    Got The Bird, But No Bees Here

    | Toledo, OH, USA | Pets & Animals

    (I work at the African exhibit of a zoo. I have a real ostrich egg that we regularly show to visitors. We only have two female ostriches that occasionally lay an egg. Their keepers take it out, empty the yolk, and give it to our staff for demo purposes.)

    Me: “Hi kids, want to see a real ostrich egg?”

    Kid: “Ooh, why is there a hole in it?”

    Me: “The keepers drilled a hole to get to yolk out, so it doesn’t become rotten. It has a yolk just like a chicken egg you eat for breakfast. We don’t have any boy ostrich so we know there wasn’t a chick inside, only a yolk.”

    (The mother of the kid chimes in.)

    Mother: “The boys lay the eggs with the chicks inside?”

    Me: “No, we only have females so there is no chick, only yolk. It’s like when chicken lay eggs we eat.”

    Mother: “Right, so only the males lay eggs with chicks inside?”

    Me: “No, males don’t lay eggs at all. It takes a boy and a girl to make a chick. Like to make a baby, the boy has to fertilize the eggs?”

    Mother: “Ooh!”

    Guess Who Got The Lion’s Share Of The Stupid

    | Toronto, ON, Canada |

    (I am making my rounds in the Africa area. An American couple is standing in front of the lion compound. There is a clear sign stating it is an African lion.)

    Tourist #1: “Excuse me, what animal is this?”

    Me: “That would be a lion, ma’am.”

    Tourist #2: “Oh, yes. We have them in Utah!”

    Me: “Actually, sir, you have mountain lions in Utah. Not African lions.”

    Tourist #1: “Then you should tell someone that mountain lions shouldn’t be in the Africa section!”

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