Thursday, April 19, 2007

"Please, Play Hard To Get"

I caught this headline on today: Antwerp Zoo asks visitors not to stare at the chimps

One chimp in particular, named Cheetah, was raised by humans but is now integrating into the ape society and the zoo officials fear too much human bonding will delay the chimp's progress.

I've always had a problem with zoos because they are not interactive enough. Why the hell can't I jump in the lion's den and reenact my favorite story from the Bible? Why isn't there a set of vines over the alligator pit so that I can swing across like Tarzan? And if I provide my own mice, why can't I feed the boa constrictor? What good is it to have all these animals trapped in cages if we can't play with them? All we can do is look! But now we can't even do that.

The Antwerp Zoo, in Belgium, has placed a sign outside the chimp exhibit that asks visitors not to stare at the chimps. Their new motto should be, "Nature, Get a Glimpse!" What the sign actually says is, "Look away when the animal seeks to make contact with you." Does that sound familiar to anyone else? Reminds me of third grade. Little Sally Hunter would never look at me. When I wasn't facing her, I could tell she was watching me. But every time I turned around, she looked away! All I wanted was to make eye contact! But she wouldn't. So I pulled her ponytail. Of course, a chimp can't pull our ponytails. So instead, he throws poop at the glass. Pretty much the same thing.

But what if this doesn't work? What if we simply refusing to stare at the chimp doesn't deter it from bonding with humans? What's next? Maybe they'll post a sign that says, "Please piss off the chimp."


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