Zoo Story

How brilliant are baby monkeys? The answer, really very muchly brilliant. The one in question was only a month and a half old and was having a proper spak around its cage. Its mum was just casually holding its tale as a rudimentary leash to make sure it didn’t hurt itself, while she just sat and stared at all the people staring at her, as if to say ‘yes, you may think he’s entertaining, but trust me, he’s a very naughty boy-monkey.’ Its lucky he had a tale as they don’t have those baby barriers for monkeys, and if they did, the monkeys could probably just climb over them so it would be pointless. Next door to them were some Diana monkeys, so called due to their anti-mine campaigns, the way they die in Parisian tunnels and the fact they sleep around with everyone except their husbands. One of said monkeys was was eagerly getting its food from inside a pouch that had been tied by the keeper between two branches. Layla commented on how clever they are, that they can find their food like that. I disagree. I could do that. If you put food in a pouch near me, I reckon I’d find it fairly quickly. What would be clever is if the Diana monkey then used the pouch to put over the head of the keeper, escape out of the door, and then go on to reprogram the Pentagon’s nuclear warhead system. But it didn’t do that, so its still an idiot monkey.

Layla had to go to London Zoo today as she is taking her class at school for a trip there on Friday, so had to scout it out. Naturally I couldn’t miss out on a free zoo ticket so I put on my best ‘I’m a teacher really’ face and we got in for nowt. To be fair, they didn’t even check I was a teacher and they probably couldn’t care less. I think they looked at us thinking ‘any idiot that wants to go to the zoo in the rain deserves a free ticket because of their sheer stupidity’. Actually zoos in the rain are excellent, because very few other people are there, and you get to see a miserable looking gorilla carry bits of sacking as a rain hat and then sit, covered in sacking, under a ledge looking like they hate the world. Brilliant! I saw loads and loads of animals including some with legs, and some with eyes and some with fins and eyes and tails and ones with funny noses. It was awesome. My favourites though were the otters who seemed to desperately want human attention and kept mewing at me and Layla whenever we tried to walk away. They were possibly mewing a ‘help me’ type plea or even just swearing at us in Ottertongue, but we just assumed they were being brilliant. I’ve read Tarka the otter and he seemed alright, so I shall judge them all in the same way. Its technically animal racism, or speciesism, or otterist, but so far they don’t have any civil rights so its ok. My other favourites were the monkey baby and the Himilayan Newt. The latter swims like a complete div and I found this funny for ages. Far too long in fact. Both me and Layla laughed quite hard, and other people were walking past thinking we might have some sort of drug abuse issues.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBtRYYtI360 (see here after 4.14. I challenge you not to laugh. If you don’t, you are a grown up. Well done.)

It reminded me of the time I went to the aquarium in Genova with my friend Luke and a girl called Geneva (I know, what are the chances of a Geneva in Genova?), after smoking quite a lot of, er, funky herbal cigarettes that we bought off some Italian biker kids, way back when I travelled round Europe several years ago. It was the best aquarium trip I’ve ever had on account of finding every fish hilarious and playing the game ‘that’s your dad that is’ which involved going up to every animal and telling Luke or Geneva that was his or her mum, dad or some other relation. Geneva, being American, really hadn’t understood it at first, but eventually it was so funny that was fell to our knees somewhere just past the sharks and had to sit down for a bit and try not to look at the catfish for fear of starting the giggles again.

Yeah I’ve had some pretty good times going to zoos. But as much as I love them I still have slightly mixed feelings about whether they are cruel or not. I know all the animals are very well looked after but sometimes you have to wonder if its right that they are taken out of their natural habitat and stuck in a tiny little room with people constantly staring at them. Today for example we went to see the meerkats, who were all huddling under some red heat lamps. The uninitiated might assume they are some sort of lapdancing meerkats, but it actually appeared that they were just desperate to get out of the rain and be in the warmth. Normal meerkats probably don’t ever see much rain and when they do, its hot rain. If you were to compare these meerkats with the ones in the desert, well then you are a dickhead who is far too amused by clever advertising. Simples. I don’t like seeing animals looking sad though. I will never forget the memory of the orangutan at Washington DC. It just sat and stared out of a porthole-like window with a sheet on its head knibbling straw, for hours. We kept returning to see it still sat there.

(video expertly taken by Layla of the saddest orangutan in existance. Please note, camera was on its side at first, not the ape)

It made me and Layla wonder if it was just really cruel having it there, maybe all it wanted to do was escape? Then we saw the orangtuan behind it who was constantly throwing up and then eating its own sick, and we realised they are probably just hungover and its all fine. Who knows whether they enjoy being there or not really? I’ve gone back to my flat, turned the heating up and have now slobbed indoors, staring out the windows at the shitty rainy weather and I can’t help but think it might be quite snug in your own little window at the zoo. Maybe I should charge for people to come and listen to my stand-up from outside my front window? Every now and then I could swing from something or eat straw and it’d be the closest thing to seeing me in my natural habit that you could get? Always thinking me. Always thinking.