The Ugly Untruth

| USA | Right | December 13, 2016

(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?!)

Gorillas In The Blacklist

| CA, USA | Learning | November 28, 2016

(We are on a field trip to the San Diego Zoo with a class and a couple of others. We approach the gorilla exhibit with a sign reading: “Please do not make direct eye contact with the gorillas.” So what does our teacher do? Exactly that.)

Teacher: “Oh, I gotta try this. But if I do this, I’m gonna do it right!”

(He searches the exhibit and finds the alpha male, a very, very large gorilla who is idly eating his food, and the teacher just mad dogs him. He stares directly at him, doesn’t look away for a second, doesn’t move, rarely even blinks.)

Gorilla: *starts noticing Teacher staring, gets up, and starts grunting and pounding his chest and generally makes a lot of noise*

(This begins to freak out all of the other gorillas and they do the same thing.)

Zookeeper: *quickly approaches the exhibit and looks at Teacher* “Sir? I need you to leave immediately. Where are you from?”

Teacher: “I’m from [High School].”

Zookeeper: “Okay. [High School] is banned. Please leave.”

(He didn’t make a huge fuss, but he was escorted out along with the rest of the students and chaperones on the field trip. He was lucky no one told the principal, but he’s still not sure if he and the school are still banned.)

Caught Red-Cupped

| Portland, OR, USA | Right | October 10, 2016

(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!”

My Little Monkey

| MI, USA | Friendly | August 26, 2016

(I’ve taken my children to the zoo. We’re standing in front of the ring-tailed lemur exhibit. My four-year-old daughter is very familiar with this animal thanks to the TV show “Wild Kratts,” which dedicated several episodes to lemurs. Another family approaches.)

Mom: *from other family* “Look, Tyler, it’s a monkey.”

Four-Year-Old: “Actually, it’s a lemur.”

Mom: “No, sweetie, it’s a monkey. Just look at it.”

Four-Year-Old: “It’s a ring tailed lemur, and it’s not a monkey. It’s from Madagascar.”

Mom: *to me* “Kids are so cute when they think they know everything.”

Me: “So are adults. You should read the sign.”

Mom: “Hm? Oh, it’s a… ring tailed… Look over there, a parrot!”

Four-Year-Old: “That’s a cockatoo.”

(I love my little know-it-all.)

Preparing Meals That Are Works Of Art

| Wales, UK | Working | April 27, 2016

(I and two other keepers are in our keeper kitchen preparing feeds ready to go, and get started on our morning routines. I’m chopping some vegetables quickly and a piece of cabbage falls on the floor. Keeper #1 walks passed me.)

Keeper #1: “There’s cabbage on the floor.”

Keeper #2: “A poem, by [Keeper #1].”

(At this point, we all start laughing. Keeper #1 is laughing so hard that she’s just standing there in tears, unable to do anything except hold a pot of mealworms she’d made up earlier. After a few minutes we manage to stop, but Keeper #1 is still laughing.)

Me: “I think this is still part of the poem.”

Keeper #2: “It’s performance art. I don’t know what the mealworms are meant to represent though.”

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