Sunday, February 06, 2005

Tyranny at the zoo

The day was too splendid to ignore so I went for a walk through the zoo. The place is obviously mobbed and I understand as I enter that the weather is not the only reason: today is the first day the cheetah cubs are on display. People in front of their enclosure are taking pictures. The only ones who really can are those with large lenses: the cubs are back in their cage, with their mother. I leave quickly to go to see the tigers. The path is clearly marked and I'm walking up the slope when I hear someone shouting "Anne! Give me the map!" A guy with white hair is right behind me, calling to a woman about 20 feet in front. She is almost entering the circular path around the tiger and lion's enclosures. She stops to shout back. "I don't have it. Maybe one of the boys."
I hear the shout again "I need the map!" A kid, about 10 years old, just right by the woman turns around, waving it. He starts walking back, away from the tigers, toward his father who is screaming "Run! I'm getting tired!" There is no love, no discussion. This is an order given by a drill sergeant. I am not the only one to notice. A middle-aged guy with a dyed T-shirt turns around to look at the man.
The kid is running down the slope. His brothers are right in front of me, already looking at the tiger.


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