Saturday, March 3, 2012

All the animals in the zoo are jumping up & down for you ...

The title of this post may or may not be copyrighted ... My mom sings commercial jingles from her childhood all the time (her knowledge of corporate jingles is mind-boggling and also seriously helpful when answering Jeopardy! questions).  I'm pretty sure that this little ditty was in a commercial for the Philadelphia Zoo back in the late 60s.

At school, one of my favorite places to go is the bio wing.  The entire hallway is lined with little animals in cages and aquariums complete with little plastic houses and big wads of fluff for making cozy beds. Last spring, I walked down this hallway twice a week to get to my class in this huge, window-lined room complete with a full-scale human skeleton in an upright case in the corner.  (I'm sure it's made of resin or something.  Although, it looks old enough that perhaps it was purchased during a time when people did not question the buying and selling of human skeletons for classrooms?)

Believe it or not, the skeleton came in handy for things like the mind/body problem (ie, "What's more real? Your brain? Or your mind? Or are they both equally real? Ok, if they're both equally real, then try explaining how a physical thing--your brain--manages to interact and connect with your mind--a nonphysical thing.  Good luck with that").  Somehow, we managed to come up with a bunch of jokes about this topic at the skeleton's expense.  Of course, philosophy is as obsessed with death as much as it is life ... again, more jokes at the skeleton's expense.

After class, I walked through the bio wing again and I would stop and say hi to all the little creatures watching me go past.  I am that Crazy Lady: The one who stops and puts her face right up to the glass and literally says out loud, "Hi there," to the little fuzzy/furry/scaly thing inside.  Sometimes, as in the case of the Savannah monitor (who, sadly, has disappeared ... I haven't seen him in months) this would require me to get on the floor and kneel down to see what the creature in question was up to.  It was like my own personal zoo that I could visit regularly for free.

The guinea pigs are the luckiest. They're in a central part of the hallway and everyone always stops to see what they're doing.  People are even allowed to reach in a pick them up.  Even though I grew up with hamsters (their scientific name will be used herewith: "hammies"), I would be that Crazy Lady who accidentally drops the piggie and must frantically chase him in a zig-zagging pattern down the hall past all of the classrooms. There are many things that I want to add to my CV in coming years. This is not one of them.

One day last spring, one of the bio professors--who was also a nun--saw me discreetly trying to get up off the floor after a short chat with the Savannah monitor.  She eyed me suspiciously and I pretended like nobody was watching me. I was seriously waiting for Homeland Security officers to swarm me from all angles, but all she said was, "You see what the heat lamps did to his back?"

Me: "uhhhh, yes? It looks like he got burnt?"
Her: "Yup.  We're treating him with Vaseline to heal his skin."
Me: "Oh."
Her: "Do you like bunnies?"
Me: "uhhhh ... yes?  I mean YES!  Yes, I love bunnies."
Her: "Well, get up and I'll let you see the bunnies."

I trotted behind her down the hallway into the room next to the guinea pigs.  They really did have bunnies!  And doves!  And a really big thing that at first I thought was an alligator but really was just an iguana!

These guys are JUST like Penny and Pearl: they're constantly annoying the crap out of each other. And yet, you can tell they would be lost without each other.
A bunch of undergrads were in the lab, measuring and weighing some of the critters or simply cleaning up after them.  The bio prof said to me, "Do you like chinchillas? Because we're getting a chinchilla next month."  Now, everyone knows: the only thing fluffier than one of my Fluffs is a chinchilla.  I practically squealed with delight, "YES I LOVE CHINCHILLAS!!!"  To which she replied, "Good. Come back and talk to it when it gets here."

And I did.  But, he was awful scared of me and refused to come out of his house let alone look at me.

It's probably not fair of me that I don't have pictures of the tarantulas or the hissing cockroaches.  But they really skeeve me and I can't handle it.

This is why it's cool to work at a university.  When was the last time you saw bunnies or bearded dragons when you were just walking down the hallway at work?

1 comment:

Trebor790 said...

I found this blog when I was remembering the song played by the key boxes at the San Francisco zoo in the 1960's. I won a key by sending a drawing in to the Chronicle. How exciting was that?! I see from the Net that many other zoos used this too, which I don't think I had realised.
Does your mother also do the
"He likes it!"
"Hey Mikey!" ??
warm regards
Joanna K