The Omaha Zoo: A Lesson in Sociology

A Post By: Michael Gallo

Last weekend I found myself in the beautiful city of Omaha. There’s actually nothing beautiful about the city, but it was a unique experience and I can appreciate that. To kill some time (something I imagine people from Omaha are very good at) I decided to go to the Omaha Zoo with a few loved ones. I would say “family” but I’ve recently converted to Jehovah’s Witness and we don’t believe in “families”. PRAISE BE TO ALLAH! Or whatever they say.

The Omaha Zoo, hailed by many as “the greatest zoo in the Midwest”, lived up to its reputation. Its wide array of animals, unique exhibits, and large crowd of foreigners is among the best in the country.

I find zoos to be unrealistic. The obvious reason being that animals are ripped from their natural habitat and placed in a small cage sometimes with nothing more than a few rocks and tree branches to act as their “natural environment”. But I also find that the animals lack their natural behaviors.

One tank held a large school of piranhas. In case you’re unaware, piranhas are savage Amazon dwelling carnivores that can tear an entire cow to the bone in a matter of seconds. But here they were, floating back and forth, peering through the glass at moderately bored observers. Rubbish. Let’s kick it up a notch shall we?

Here’s my idea:

Once an hour, the doors around the piranha exhibit will close and lock (despite the obvious fire code violation this presents). A hole in the roof will open and a live pig will be lowered through the ceiling until it is precariously dangling over the piranha tank. Next, prisoners from a nearby penitentiary (all chained together) will walk out and start tribal chanting while playing bass drums. “Pork time, pork time, pork time” an automated voice will say over the PA system. Next, cue the strobe lights. People are having seizures, and kids are crying. “Snap” goes the carabineer clip holding the pig above the tank. With a tremendous splash, Babe will hit the water and in seconds the tank will be red, bones and chunks of fat floating to the surface. “MOM, WHERE’S THE PIG??” a kid will scream. Then the mom will have to explain how nature works. Because isn’t that what a zoo should do? This live “show” will treat zoo goers to the raw power and intensity of piranhas.

Zoos aren’t an authentic view into the reality of animals. We do not see the graphic nature of the animal kingdom, which is maybe for the better. I know I for one have a much skewed sense of animal behavioral patterns. I can thank Animal Planet and Planet Earth for this. Planet Earth had me convinced that monkeys sit around all day in public forums on the cusp of creating a spoken language, fashioning tools out of rocks and the skulls of their enemies. The monkey I saw at the Omaha Zoo had its finger so far up its nose, that I thought it only had four fingers. And atheists are ready to accept these monkeys as cousins, only the missing link separating us from full-finger-nose-picking.

While staring at this mining monkey, a peculiar thing happened. A Hispanic individual came up to the glass, made a weird face, grunted loudly, and then punched the glass about three times with a closed fist. He repeated this process a couple of times, pausing only to look over at his family and laugh. The monkey meanwhile just stared back at him. In this moment, I thought about who the real animal was. Was it the calm, pondering monkey, or the maniac foreigner pounding on the window?

Moreover, what was he hoping to accomplish?

Hispanic Guy: I heard on ESPN Deportes, that if you pound on zoo glass, monkeys will stand up and moon walk like Michael Jackson.

The zoo seemed to favor what I called “observation bubbles”. They were large plastic bubbles built into the wall that allowed a person to seemingly “step into” the enclosure. But here again the zoo has an opportunity to take their shit to the next level. Two annoying people that have been banging on the glass all day step into the observation bubble. SLAM, a wall comes down behind them. All the lights turn red, so everyone KNOWS it’s on. The plastic bubble slowly rises, and now the lucky individuals are literally inside the gorilla enclosure. It will take about five minutes for the gorillas to notice, so in the meantime the zoo should show the opening scene from Saving Private Ryan on wall mounted televisions. When you hear primal, primate screams…the show is ready to begin. Who’s ready for some quality, family entertainment? Get your popcorn ready. Monkeys are capable of some crazy ass shit.

Chimpanzees have been ripping off faces since before bath salts made it cool

And maybe these ideas all sound graphic and a little twisted, but I would rather watch these gruesome scenes than get lied to.

A trip to the zoo for me is just a series of let downs and questions that make me want to take a fly-swatter into the butterfly house. At one point I saw a monkey pick up a small piece of wood above his head. “Holy shit, he’s making a tool! He’s going to form a civilization off of this single moment!” Then the monkey shoved the chunk of wood into his mouth and started gnawing on it. I spiked my zoo map onto the ground.

Zoos aren’t real. We don’t learn anything new at zoos.

Random Dude: They’re good for seeing rare animals!

A pygmy hippo? Really? Open a book. Google something once in a while. Zoos are giant cages. For US! We’re the animals. Step right up and see the Asian Tourist! Maybe when zoos start stepping their game up, I’ll be a bigger fan. Until then, I’ll just watch the Hispanic people.

3 thoughts on “The Omaha Zoo: A Lesson in Sociology

  1. Enjoyable read. Liked the objective view point. Animals often appear more refined when compared to some members of the human race

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