The Dallas Zoo and Free Will

The Dallas Zoo is a lot neater than I expected, since it’s the red-headed stepchild of zoos around here. I thought it was cool, but some things there were odd.

First, there’s these birds that just stay in that tree, all day. They aren’t fenced in. They just sit there on their own volition and don’t try to escape. Maybe their wings are clipped – but that doesn’t explain why they don’t hop down from the branch and wander around. How does the zoo keep them there? (Similarly, the kangaroos don’t jump over the 4-foot tall fences that surround them.) Someone could probably use this to construct a sermon about being prisoners without cages, or something.

The aviary, where I took this picture, is even stranger. There are signs simply asking you not to open up all of the doors at once so that the birds don’t fly out. That’s it. You’re on the honor system. It would be inappropriate to go there and open up all the doors, singing ‘Born Free.’

Speaking of birds, these guys really got the rotten end of the deal. It’s bad enough being an ugly lawn ornament, but do they have to called them lesser flamingos? That’s one of the worst names I can think of.

We were hungry, but we wanted to see the lions before we ate. Little did we know that the lions are actually just outside of the restaurant window, so we ate a few feet away from these guys, who slept the whole time and occasionally shifted to flash their junk at us. Thanks, lions. You’re still the King of the Jungle, you don’t have to prove it.

This one yawned, but realized it made him tired and went back to sleep. And that is the only thing they did while we watched them for an hour. Lions are actually boring, but it’s neat to have lunch with them.

Of course, I have breakfast with a lion, every morning.

You can feed a giraffe, too. They are bigger than I realized. Also, I noticed I could easily grab one’s neck, slide down, and ride it around. Easily.

A mamba – the world’s most poisonous snake. It makes an appearance in a Sherlock Holmes story, as well as a film in which Watson has to correct Holmes when he says that a “mambo” was at his doorstep. (“So, I opened up my door, and there were these Manchurians doing this curious little dance…”) The reptile house was a prolonged exercise in pretending not to be scared in front of my wife.

I was standing there for a few seconds when I suddenly realized an elephant was right next to me. Elephants are so slow, and grey, and dirty that they can blend in with their surroundings remarkably well for something so huge. They really let you get close to the animals at this zoo.

It took a long time to find the gorilla, and when we tracked him down he refused to do anything, at all. He just laid there, mocking our journey. Sort of like when you read a blog entry expecting something interesting about free will and it just ends.

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