We went to the zoo yesterday. The MIM and I with our two brats, BILly Boy with his wife and two brats.
I wish, I really, really wish that I could say we had a blast, but personally, I didn't. The kids were excited to see the animals, of course. Plus, it had been a very long time since we had all gone out together like this in a group, so that was fun too.
But the animals. Oh, those poor, poor animals. Now I have nothing against zoos and circuses -- PROVIDED THE ANIMALS ARE WELL CARED FOR. My eyes and sensibilities were assaulted by one miserable sight after the other.
I've always loved the zoo. Some of my happiest memories are of visiting the Bronx Zoo when we lived in New York and of going to the Mysore Zoo when we lived in Bangalore. I used to think it was quite thrilling that we could get to see wild animals so up close and personal. As I grew, I also believed that the zoo was a safe haven for many of these animals. A zoo was one of the few places where all animals could be looked after, nourished and cared for like beloved pets. I safely assumed that endangered species would multiply and thrive in such a protective and loving atmosphere and that soon enough, we could knock their names off the endangered species list.
But yesterday, I felt these miserable creatures were better off in the wild. I could see the rib cages of the lions. Kings of the jungle, these mighty beasts are supposed to be. Instead, they were nothing more that mere skeletons of their glorious memory. It pains me to say it, but the word that best describes them is 'fleabags', lying there in the sun like limp, stinky dishrags. The giraffes, those tall majestic creatures were trying desperately to lick the 'chunaa' off the walls -- a clear sign of calcium deficiency.
The pool water in the hippo enclosure reminded me of a sewer. The same was the case with the water bodies meant for the storks, cranes, ducks and other water birds. The Calcutta Zoo used to attract migratory birds from as far as Siberia and the MIM was telling me how in the winters, there would hardly be any space on the lakes. because the birds covered every available inch of space there was...and let me assure you, the space is considerable. And now? Just a few flocks here and there and dirty water as far as the eye can see and the nose can smell. Not surprisingly, word about the bad acco and services must have travelled by squawk and chirp of beak to all the four corners of the globe by now.
Not just that, the place is filthy!! The zoo is a major winter attraction here in Kolkata. Families pack picnic lunches and lovers 'chat' behind the bushes. Is it so bloody difficult to throw a used thermacol plate or an orange peel into the dustbin that's right in front of your f*****' face! The whole place was worse that a pigsty, because even a pig worth his pink wouldn't give the place the time of day, unless he was put behind bars like his more unfortunate brethren of the animal kingdom.
And no sign-boards. Anywhere! No maps, no arrows to point us in the direction of the reptile house, the zebras, the lions, the monkey cages...nothing! 'Hello! Anybody there? Could we have some attendants and zoo officials out and about please? No? Say what? They're all at home sleeping on a Sunday morning. Well! What a novel idea, I say. And what about the rest of the week, what do they do then? Oh sleep!! Well good for them!'
Will I go back? Yes, of course I will. If only to see my YO clap his hands and exclaim excitedly, "Maakee, maakee" (that would be 'monkey' folks) and hear my EO try to roar like a lion. To hope that my paltry ten-rupee entrance fee will at least buy a packet of peanuts for the baby elephat.
And if possible, to 'accidentally' push someone responsible for the plight of these creatures, into the tiger's den.