I also thought about calling this “Customers Say the Darndest Things,” but it was a little long…
I was going to write about hiking yesterday, but after a couple of strange conversations at the zoo today, I decided to share with you some of the more, well, I’ll call them “creative” questions I’ve been asked by zoo guests and park patrons I’ve encountered over the years.
“What do you feed those gorillas?” (Asked when looking at siamangs.)
“What are the names of all of those llamas?” (Asked when looking at goats.)
“How hard was it to bottle feed those tiger cubs?” I had to explain that most captive-born cubs are raised by their mothers, and it’s only in unusual circumstances that they get bottle fed.
“Are you going to feed that to the tigers?” I was standing by the tiger exhibit, where we have a vegetable enrichment garden (for the primates), holding a couple of bell peppers that I’d just picked. “No, ma’am,” I replied, “they only eat meat.” She had the decency to look embarrassed.
“What do you think of Steve Irwin?” This one was asked today by an Australian man. I think he was trying to ask, in a more creative way than usual, the daily query: “Do you go in and play with the tigers?”
“Do you fry it or bake it?” (Asked when told that we feed captive birds of prey chicken. We had to explain about frozen dead chicks. You can imagine how that went.)
“How often will a turtle change its shell in its lifetime?” (They were trying to ask an intelligent question, really, but it just didn’t work.)
The latest also happened today, but I need to give you the whole context. I was walking along the front edge of the tiger exhibit, cleaning. A man stopped to ask me when the tigers would be back outside, so I told him in a few minutes (they were eating and I was, as I said, cleaning).
“Oh, okay,” he said. He paused. Then, “You know those Jackson’s chameleons?”
“Yes?” I said.
“You have them here?”
Thinking he meant at the zoo, I replied, “No, not on exhibit. They’re wild over on the windward side of the island, though.”
“Oh. Well, do you have Madagascar day geckos on the island?”
“Um, I don’t think so,” I said, starting to feel confused. I was, after all, standing in the tiger exhibit. “We have gold dust day geckos, though, and then a bunch of really small ones.”
“Oh. Well, do you think the zoo would sell me one of the geckos here? You know, to keep as a pet?”
What?! I thought. I said, “No, sir, they’re for exhibit only and not for sale.”
What I wanted to say was, “Sure, and maybe they’ll throw in an elephant to go with it!”