The Butterfly Defect

| UK | Bizarre, Pets & Animals

(I’m answering the phone at a small zoo; mostly, this is people asking for directions or prices, but we get the odd… interesting call.)

Caller: “Hello, there’s a large moth in my garage. Could someone come and get it, please?”

Me: “A moth? We do have a butterfly hall. Do you mean you’re local and you think it’s one of ours that’s escaped?”

Caller: “I don’t know! I live in [Town 20 miles away], and there’s just this big, brightly coloured moth in my garage, and now I can’t go in there! I hate moths!”

Me: “Well, I’m afraid we’re not actually an animal rescue, and that really is a bit of a trip. It’s definitely not one of our butterflies that far away.”

Caller: “Can’t you help anyway? I’m freaking out here!”

Me: “Umm, it’s possible if it’s a big, bright species that it may be rare, and one of our staff may be willing to go and catch it for you after work, as he’s a keen photographer with an interest in moths. If you want, I’ll ask him. What colour is it?”

(The line goes silent for a moment.)

Caller: “Beige?”

Me: “I’m sorry, we really can’t help. Maybe you can ask a neighbour to let it out?”

Will Have To Gingerly Decline

, | UK | At The Checkout, Food & Drink

(My friend and I have a Christmas tradition of a zoo day together. We always have a coffee half way round as it’s the best in the area. For Christmas, the cafe has limited edition flavours including chocolate orange and gingerbread. We get to the till and this happens.)

Friend: “Ooh, the gingerbread latté is back!”

Cashier: “Sorry, we only have amaretto, hazelnut, or mint available at the moment.”

Me: “Oh, okay, no problem. I’ll have an orange hot chocolate—”

Friend: “—and a gingerbread latté.”

Cashier: *raises hands laughing*

Me: “Oh, god… I’m one of those people today!”

The Ugly Untruth

| USA | Family & Kids, Pets & Animals

(I am an educator at a fairly large zoo. On my break I occasionally zip a jacket up over my uniform shirt and walk around to see some of my favorite animals. It’s not required that I not wear my shirt while on break, but I like just enjoying the animals without being asked 200 times where this/that/the other is. I’m hanging out with our elephants when I overhear a father talking to his kids. He is very loud and very close to me, so I can hear very clearly what is being said.)

Father: “You see, kids, zoos only take animals that are perfect. And if an animal is too ugly or looks like it’s not out of a picture book, they kill it.”

(I have to blink a few times… I did NOT just hear that. Just as this happens one of our male elephants walks by. He happens to have very little hair on his tail so it looks bald and short.)

Father: “See! I’m surprised they kept that one alive, since he has that tail.”

(I almost have to sit down. At this point I unzip my jacket, pull out my ID, and approach him.)

Me: “Sir, I’m very sorry, but I work here and happened to overhear your conversation. I can PROMISE you that we would never, EVER kill any of our animals simply because they are ‘ugly’ or have physical abnormalities. In fact, most of the animals in our North American area are orphans, blind, crippled, or otherwise unable to survive in the wild. We actually take in a lot of animals who need help and rehabilitate them. I know many of our keepers and these animals are pretty much their children. They love them profoundly and would never, in a million years, allow one to be killed simply because they aren’t picture book perfect.”

Father: “Oh! Well, that’s so good to know! Thank you!”

(I just… I can’t. Where did that idea even COME from?!)

Caught Red-Cupped

| Portland, OR, USA | Food & Drink, Liars & Scammers

(I’m a food cart cashier on my last day of work, and have just returned from my lunch break with my helper. Our zoo had stopped all sales of a popular souvenir cup several days earlier, but returning visitors can bring the cups back with them to take advantage of our $1.00 refill deal for all souvenir cups, continued or discontinued. Almost ten minutes after returning, a group of five people cuts in front, and one of them angrily points at me.)

Customer: “We bought seven different drinks, and four of them were in the [Popular Souvenir Cup], twenty minutes ago! We left them at our table for just a minute, and they all got stolen! We want new cups for everything, for free! Or give us our money back!”

Me: “I’m sorry sir, but I can’t refund you on those cups.”

Customer: “This is bull-s***! Why can’t you do your job and give us our money’s worth?!”

Me: “Well, considering we haven’t sold these cups in days, I doubt you bought them from here in the last twenty minutes.”

Customer: “Oh, uh, I just forgot; we bought them over at the food cart near the—”

Me: “No location in the zoo is selling these cups anymore. We discontinued them last week while we wait for the new souvenir cup design to be shipped in.”

(The customer and their whole gaggle of a family then try to stutter out new drink orders, but my helper sharply tells them they’ve cut in the line and that they’ll need to wait, and they leave looking incredibly embarrassed. Apparently, according to the workers who covered for me and my helper, they’d been waiting for us to come back from lunch break, and had been watching other people carry cups around. Before they were out of earshot, I called out to them.)

Me: “Next time you want to scam someone, at least be smart about it!”

Bird Brained, Part 11

| USA | Family & Kids, Pets & Animals

(I have just bought four cups of nectar to feed the rainbow lorikeets at the zoo. After finding a somewhat calm place to stand, I make no indication I notice the birds and am soon covered in them. The birds are only going towards the adults and older (quieter) kids. The younger kids start coming over to me trying to get birds to jump onto them and drink out of their cups.)

Kid: “You’ve got so many birds! I want one!”

Me: “Here, just stand next to me and don’t move. They’ll come right over!”

(He stands next to me but squeals every time a bird comes near him and scares it away. Then his mom comes over.)

Mom: “Oh, wow! You have so many birds with you! Can you pass one to my son?”

Me: “I’ll try, but the birds don’t like noise. If he can stand still and quiet they’ll land on him.”

(I try to pass a bird to the kids hand but it jumps back to mine.)

Mom: “Stop hogging all the birds! This is really unfair to the kids!”

Me: “Ma’am, I’ve just been standing here. The birds are coming to me.”

Mom: “So you should be passing them to the kids, then! This is a zoo! This is a place for CHILDREN, not immature adults!”

Me: “You’re being very rude. I’ve already tried passing the birds off but it’s not my fault if they don’t want to sit with them. The zoo is a place for anyone to enjoy, not just kids.”

(She doesn’t respond but starts trying to grab birds off of me or shoo them away. One of them starts squawking and bites her.)

Mom: “Ugh! This zoo is atrocious! How dare they have such untrained, disgusting animals allowed to hurt people!”

(She stormed off to complain to a zookeeper.)

Related:
Bird Brained, Part 10
Bird Brained, Part 9
Bird Brained, Part 8

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