WATCHING THE HUMANS IN AN ANIMAL FARM…
One went to Belfast Zoological Garden with his girlfriend last weekend.
I had the enviable task of enjoying myself among my kin for an afternoon. I say among, amongst, Christus how class that would have been… But alas, my kin and I were on different sides of the fence… Except for my girlfriend (I’m not saying she is an animal, actually I am. We all are.), and the the numerous other right-minded folk who wanted to mingle fun and biology, and the conservation of species that we’re helping to kill on a daily basis.
From what I saw, we’re slowly killing ourselves too. Not in an environmental sense, just an intellectual one.
It just seemed to me that a number of those who were separate from me were perfectly intelligent life forms, probably capable of putting in a good day’s work, and obviously capable of having fun. There were donkeys, primates and goats that I reckon could at least earn the same minimum wage as I do. .. If only they knew their captors were keeping all the tenners from them.
I saw animals obviously capable of having fun too, including a group of five teenage girls who giggled maniacally when one took the p#@s out of another by saying ‘yeahnoonecares’ when the sixth made an unknown remark. Maybe we didn’t care, but, oh how I giggled maniacally when she said it. Simply so that she might overhear and feel victimised herself: she probably thought I was, like, totally, unhip… Or something.
I saw a bat spread its leather like wings lethargically, drop from a rope and swoop to a seemingly dangerous perch with ease. I saw lions flirting as a female rubbed her head against what seemed the beta male, rolled over beside him and then bit him on the face when he began to reciprocate. ‘How human’ I thought… Obviously even female lions don’t know what they actually want.
Two red pandas leapt about their enclosure. They are possibly my favourite land mammal. A close second are the pair of adult lemur who had two offspring that I swear would have looked pretty tasty between slices of bread.
Homo Sapian? I’m going to say we’re far down my list of favourite land mammals. In fact, there are things about sewer rats I find more interesting than some of the traits we humans have obtained. At least rats don’t have pretensions of grandeur.
There are probably six reasons I believe this more fully having gone to the zoo, than before I went on that day. And it’s no bad thing. People are just animals and I will gladly watch them throw the proverbial faeces out of the pram, or into it, as I will any other beast.
So number one on the list is the middle class woman who just couldn’t stop contradicting herself. Okay, she only did it once. As we walked past her in the play park, I bemoaned the fact it didn’t have monkey bars and it was a zoo, then I heard her say to her other half: “Are you taking him up the slide? Well, I’m not doing it. So you’re going to have to.” The primate male then took the child up the slide. Later, after seeing some more interesting animals we heard her quietly moaning at her partner about how his arms were both the same length and ‘every time’ he was brought to the zoo he acted like he didn’t like it. If I were him I’d have untold reasons not to like it. For instance: I took the kid up the slide while you stood with a pram and told me what to do because you weren’t doing it, and now I’m the one with an attitude problem at the zoo?
Number two were the group of four adult working class parents (I’m unsure who bred with whom – we’d need a geneticist) who had their four children and a hidden supply of terrible American beer to walk around the zoo with. I never knew the secondary purpose of prams was to carry children and that the primary was as a booze trolley. If I had known I’d have had kids by now. Not just that, but one of the females of the group proclaimed: “Do ye ramambar whin I threw the food at the tiger?” Brilliant, not only do they have drink and I don’t, but they’re allowed to feed the animals and I’m not.
What a purrfect arrangement. Sorry. Sarcasm and a pun, why am I apologising? You didn’t pay for this.
The males looked pretty scary, even with a pram filled with baby and booze. I found the lions to be more predictable looking animals. At least they’d eat you if they killed you. And they didn’t go to terrible tattoo artists. But the worst thing was this: they had children with them. And those children probably weren’t having much fun being dragged around by drinking parents and they probably weren’t learning very much. Which is a trait they’ll probably pass on to their children.
Number three was more depressing than anything else. As we were walking in to see the elephants, giraffe, zebra and ostrich a pair of humans with a pram with a baby that was no more than two years old were shouting at the baby telling it: “You must apologise” and “You say sorry now.” The kid was two. I’m twenty six and I don’t really know how to apologise. Not to mention the queston: what could it have done? Urinated like I did on the women’s clothes shop security door machine after telling my ma repeatedly I needed to go? Thrown up like I did that time I drank an entire bottle of brandy and boked all over the car after telling my mum I needed to vomit but only hearing: “Wait ’til you get home.”
Number four. Woman with the crazy stare. My girlfriend said how much the view of Belfast reminded her of Waikiki and commented on how Belfast looked good from a distance… She’s right distance is good, though I don’t know what Waikiki looks like. The view was good and it smells better from afar too. I said that it looked good except we could see Carrickfergus. Think of Fallout: New Vegas but not new nor anywhere near Vegas. Lots of nukes though – that’s Carrickfergus, but with a castle.
Crazy woman had a crazy stare, and I don’t mean confused or lost. I mean crazy as in knife you in a rage but gets off on insanity. Maybe it was just us, but we both saw and that’s corroborative evidence and will stand up in court since I’m a journalist and everyone know people respects hacks as much as lawyers.
And lastly, number five, unless you count the youthful cackling harpies, six (Remember, I need six reasons). The second whiny wife/partner/spouse/woman I couldn’t fathom. I was smoking a cigarette like a chimp who knows no better, while my other half was doing something else. I looked round and a child pushing her sister’s pram while the mother held the smaller primate let go of the pram and it fell. The mother faffed about, the father came over and grabbed the pram and proceeded to walk it as the child obviously was unable. The female moaned at him. She said: “I wanted help, but I didn’t want you to do that.” The man looked as confused as I felt. Oh, you want help do you, but you want it administered in a fashion you, rather than I feel is appropriate. How quaint, male homosapiens must psychically predict the amount of help to provide. Man really is an all or nothing animal. War or peace, freedom or slavery, ignorance or strength – something like that.
These instances of human interaction didn’t make my trip to the zoo any less interesting or stimulating. I saw a female sea lion being suckled by a pup and thought: instead of giving the two-year-old in the pram a hard time, give a teat. That’ll shut it up and positively reinforce the cultural bias towards not doing wrong by providing food.
I crossed the image of crazy staring lady with the image of the red pandas and was placated. Red pandas are truly fantastic beings. Think Koalas, only foxes, but little bears that aren’t bears but the only version of their species existent on earth. There are lots of versions of primates. But only one version of them. Truly a god’s chosen children, not man or woman. We don’t have class tails.
The two moaning mothers and the group of boozers I regarded as similar to the chimps and gorillas. Unpredictable, strange, but inevitably as hilarious as the chimps in the old Tetly adverts. Stick some peanut butter in their gums and go all out with the dubbing. Or just film them like in Big Brother. I’d say there’d be less talk and more rocks thrown.
But there was one bright and shining instance of a parent or guardian human being perfectly logical and rational. Where the donkeys and gurning goats live there is a small sign that states: DO NOT TOUCH THE ANIMALS THEY MAY BITE. Lots of children were patting the donkeys, if I hadn’t already patted a variety of animals I too would have been unable to resist the urge. It’s just a donkey bite (Probably less painful than the movie Donkeypunch). It is truly difficult to die from a laceration to the hand. Unless you cut the whole thing off and such. The rational woman said to the young girl she was with: “What does the sign say?” And then the kid patted a donkey. The woman informed the child of the fact there was a warning and then let the child do as it thought best. And my brain was flooded with the word: Evolution.
Sink or swim, live or die, have a sore hand but get a chance to touch an animal that is so very similar to you but so very different? Pat the donkey. Maybe lose a finger, and learn, sometimes warnings exist not just to insure the proprietor but to stop people losing fingers.
And that is the zoo, from the eyes of a homosapien male who lives on a provincial island to the west of Europe. It may cost a tenner, but that’s five quid for the animals and five quid for the… animals. And it seems some of us have evolved and others, well, haven’t… for some time. But, fingers and thumbs crossed when the next mass extinction comes, the child who was asked to read the sign and make an independent decision will survive and the beer swilling monkeys and their ilk will be fossilized, found in a peat bog or encapsulated in amber… But not the bats or red pandas, or giant pigeons with Margaret Thatcher hair cuts. But definitely Margaret Thatcher.
And how would the donkeys, primates and gurning goats earn a living? Donkeys: union representatives. Primates: accountants. Gurning goats: Smashing Pumpkins.