From chameleonhalo: Local zoo confusing the children.
From chameleonhalo: Local zoo confusing the children.
I work at the gift shop in our zoo, and we have a couple of kiosks around the park selling stuff. The one up by the giraffe exhibit is where we sell giraffe feedings on the weekend. Now it gets pretty busy for a half-hour event, so we have to quit selling tickets a few minutes early to make sure we get through the line within the half-hour. Most people try to bargain and beg to get me to sell them a ticket, but this guy took it a step farther.
He comes up with his toddler and tries ducking under the barrier we have set up to separate the area where people pay from the area they wait in line once they have a ticket, where we still had a good chunk of people.
Me: I'm sorry, sir, but the giraffe encounter is actually closed for the day.
Customer: Then why are they still here?
Me: They already paid for their ticket, they're just waiting for the zoo keepers to wave them in.
Customer: So then you can still sell me one.
Me: Unfortunately, I can't, we stopped selling them about 10 minutes ago to make sure the event ends on time.
Customer: Wow, so you're fine telling a little girl no?
His kid isn't even looking at the giraffes ten feet away from them, looking more interested in the tortoises on the other side of the courtyard than anything else.
Me: Again, I'm sorry, but we do have to keep to a schedule, and if I sell one to you then I'd have to sell one to everybody else I turned away since we closed.
Then he realizes he's standing right next to the cart our volunteers use to help the keepers split up the leaves of lettuce, stacks of them already torn and ready to be handed out. He picks one up and waves it in front of me.
Customer: If you won't sell me one, then what if I just take one and go in?
Me: What if I just call security and tell them I have a theft and someone trying to sneak into an exhibit?
I guess he didn't want to risk it, since he took his kid by the hand and walked off, grumbling about the zoo ripping him off.
I work in a zoo. Yes, the wild animal, fenced enclosure "these things will fucking eat you" kind zoo. We have all the precautions in place: fences, moats, the whole nine yards.
This story involves the Large Birds section of the park. You see, people get these ideas that you can sing birds out of the trees and all birds are sweet and harmless and just want to be touched and cuddled by strangers.... thanks a LOT Disney! So yeah, large birds. Ostriches and emus. These fuckers can kick down a damn door and run 30-40+ miles an hour. If one kicks you, it will cave in your ribcage. They are NOT friendly. They do NOT want to be touched.
So these birds are in their own enclosure, with a guard rail, with a chain link fence, with a moat... and one extra precaution...
A young lady climbed over the guardrail so she could try and stick her fingers through the bars. She's whistling and chirping and cooing at the ostriches, trying to entice one over. (Because the one thing an ostrich wants to do is take a flying leap over a moat and plaster itself against a chain link fence, with no solid footing, so an idiot can pet it.)
The birds themselves are either giving varying degrees of "fuck you lady" stares, or else outright ignoring the stupid human making stupid little noises.
She reaches out... and the electric wires in front of the fence gave her a zap!
I about died laughing at her shaking her hand.
While not technically retail and from the opposite side of the ticket booth, I think this story belongs here.
About 30 years ago (how have I gotten this old?) my dad took seven-year-old me to visit a a reptile zoo in Florida. This particular zoo has a special focus on snakes, but also houses almost every type of reptile you can imagine including alligators. To a little boy, it's heaven on earth.
We had already been there for hours and were slowly making our way out when I noticed an enclosure off to the side of the entryway that I had missed when we entered. I darted over to see what was inside, only to find a very large alligator with a severely injured front foot.
The animal was obviously old and was covered in battle-scars that stretched all over its head and body. It was maybe 10ft or more in length and laying along the side of the enclosure with its head pointing away from us. It's entire right front foot had been ripped off, and flesh and bone were exposed. There were flies everywhere and the alligator didn't seem to be alive to me. I couldn't even see it breathing. I turned to my dad and announced to him that the alligator was dead.
He laughed and said it was just waiting. He explained how alligators would lay still and wait for just the right moment to attack. I was not convinced and told him that I still thought it was dead. So then my dad did something incredibly stupid and dangerous. This was the early 80s, so things were not quite as safe and idiot-proof as they are today. The enclosure was just a recessed pit with water at one end and ground on the other. There were no bars, no glass - nothing separating visitors from the alligator except their own common sense and a desire to live. My father lacked both.
My dad looked around to see if anyone was watching. Assured that there was no one aside from me to bear witness to the oncoming lunacy, my dad proceeded to lean down into the pit and start knocking on the alligator's tail. He asked if I was watching and I said "yeah." But nothing happened. The alligator just laid there, seemingly as dead as a doornail. After what seemed like several minutes my dad asked if I was watching again and I said, "Dad, it's dead. Look at all the flies-" And at that moment, the giant alligator that must have weighed close to a thousand pounds, pulled a 180°in the blink of an eye.
It lunged at my dad's arm, raising up on it's rear legs and throwing it's weight into the bite. But just as fast, my dad pulled his arm out of harm's way. The alligator's mouth snapped shut on nothing and it slid back into the enclosure. I backed away because it's head had completely cleared the top of the embankment and even though I was a child, I realized that the enclosure was not nearly deep enough for an animal that big.
"See?" my dad asked. "That's how they get you. You never think something that big and fat could move so fast. I hope you learned something today."
I just nodded. I was still a bit in shock.
At this moment the most horrified park worker I've ever seen came running up to us. He was as pale as could be and stammered "S-sir are you okay? Are you hurt? Are you okay?" He walked over and grabbed my dad's arm and looked at it to make sure it was all there. Then he shakily leaned on the enclosure's railing and stood there panting.
"I'm fine," my dad assured him. "I was just showing the boy how dangerous these guys are."
"Sir, you can't touch the animals. Please don't ever, ever reach into any of the habitats again. Ever!"
"It's okay," my dad said, "I won't do it again." Then, to me: "Well, are you ready to head on home?" I just nodded again and we left. I looked back to see the park worker standing there with his hands over his face. Then he looked back at me, and shook his head before walking dejectedly back into the park.
A few weeks later, my school hosted a field trip to the same zoo. The first thing I noticed as we walked in: chicken wire now stretched across all of the open enclosures and there were brand new signs warning people not to touch the animals or to reach into enclosures.
And that's how my dad ruined the zoo for everyone.
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