fiction

Confessions of a Zookeeper Parent: A Flash Fiction Piece

Summer is coming, and my eighteen-year-old son is about to graduate high school. My twenty-year-old daughter is completing community college and will go off to a SUNY school this fall.

            However, I am fighting against letting my son go to his senior prom or have a graduation party. Why? Because he barely passed this year. He should consider it a miracle that he can graduate this year.

            My daughter also passed just by the skin of her teeth. She’d had to abandon her dream of going to an ivy league school last year.

            As a zookeeper, I wish I could take my children to work with me and teach them responsibility with helping out. I was considering a farm trip where they’d have to collect eggs from chickens and clean up a barn. However, I can’t afford it this year.

            And I don’t think the zoo I work at would allow me to bring my kids, even if they’re overage. They’d probably say that it’s too dangerous. It makes sense to me as most of the animals we have to deal with are unsafe. They’re technically not meant to be tamed and around humans.

            I can’t think of a position they could do that would keep them safe as well as teach them responsibility. Helping out with directions would be too easy for them.

            I might know someone who could keep them busy and give them little, if any, time for fun. He’s a farmer, but he lives in Nebraska. I’m in New York, and I had trouble finding affordable tickets to fly anywhere, especially since it’s a peak travel season.

            Well, I can’t think of any big, famous tourist sites in Nebraska. A lot of people I know like to go to Disneyworld, Alaska, and other popular destinations for the summer. I’ll try looking at plane tickets to Nebraska online. If I can get permission from this farmer to let my kids help him, maybe then I’ll send them off there. I’m going to be a tough dad.

travel

When I Visited the Calgary Zoo in 2015

Four years ago, I went to Calgary for my cousin’s engagement party. On what was Independence Day in the US, I went to the Calgary Zoo. It’s kind of like the Bronx Zoo, but more condensed. You can probably see pretty much anything in one day.

After you’re admitted, you’re near the penguin house. Outside it, has different signs, one saying not to touch the penguins. I was puzzled, thinking, why are they reminding people something they already know? Plus, don’t they make it impossible to touch the creatures? Following that sentence was, “We have a no-touching policy.” In my mind, I was saying, yeah, no duh, all zoos do. That’s common knowledge! That’s like reminding people that animals can’t talk. Also, if you put that in a book, that’ll turn readers off. That’s right, I was thinking about something irrelevant.

But when you enter the penguin house, the tanks are, like, five feet tall. So, while little kids wouldn’t be able to reach the top, adults could. Perhaps, that’s why they needed to remind people that basic knowledge that most three-year-olds already know.

Another unique aspect is that they have a restaurant with sit-down service and good quality food. That’s a big difference from the New York City zoos. And it’s indoors.

At the end of the day, it rained, and the small children screamed and cried, even in the tunnel to exit the zoo. Still, no two zoos are alike.