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the aspect of zoos I like the least

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by cwenwyn, 29 Mar 2009.

  1. cwenwyn

    cwenwyn Well-Known Member

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    Is the people - the visitors, to be specific.

    Let me preface by saying 2 things.
    1) My husband and I were never blessed with children. I cannot truly appreciate how hard the job of raising a child properly is and I do not know firsthand how difficult it is to keep them under control in public. I was a child once, but that's the limit of my experience. (editing to add that while I'm not a parent, I was a girl scout resident camp counselor for 3 years (and an aunt for 25), so I have wrangled a child or 20... maybe I have a little knowledge of what it takes....)
    2) I am a simple zoo lover (does that sound right?). I am not an animal expert, docent or keeper. I like what I like and I see what I see.

    The only thing that spoils my zoo visits is the people. Can't we screen them or make them pass an intelligence or manners test?! ;)

    Example:
    In the local zoo, we often have quite an abundance of wild Canadian Geese. These guys are totally unafraid of humans - and can get aggressive as well. For the most part, though, they stay out of the way. During my recent visit, I was walking along one of the nice wide paths. In front of me, two dads in conversation oblivious to their children. To the left, off the path in the grass, a goose minding its own business, all settled in and resting. A group of little kids (what is a group of kids - a mob, posse, murder, maybe??) belonging to these men runs over to the goose and, as I watch horrified, boy A begins to kick at goose (within a foot of the goose's head). I spring to action yelling at the kids and hurrying toward them. Dads? Nada. Don't see it. Not paying attention. Boy B begins to also kick. I am past the dads at this point, yelling at the kids and about ready to snatch one up by the collar, regardless of the legalities of touching another person's child. Suddenly, the dads are aware! Finally they take charge of the little ruffians and apologize to me. Harumph. Apologize to the goose!

    One example of many experiences. In addition to strollers clogging up indoor exhibits (did you miss the HUGE stroller parking sign outside or do you not care?! And what's the stroller for, anyway? There's no room for the child! You have it filled with your coat, diaper bag, purse, cooler, gift store bags....), children running rampant through the park, parents weakly calling the child who obviously feels no compulsion to obey, the parents telling the children completely wrong information ("Look Johnny - a raccoon!" Did you miss the lovely sign for the red panda, describing where it came from, what it likes, what it eats.... maybe you can't read....). Also, in my mind, if the child is cranky and whiny and miserable, maybe it's time to leave. Sensory overload, dude....

    Well, there. Now I have that off my chest. I appreciate the opportunity to rant. :)
     
    Last edited: 29 Mar 2009
  2. James27

    James27 Well-Known Member

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    I agree with that, some people have no respect for the animal's feelings.
    One thing that annoys me in zoos (don't know if you meant this when you opened the thread but ah well :)) is when exhibits have really obvious simple to fix faults, like the lack of any trees/cover in Gorilla kingdom, bad climbing structures in Orang "Forest", lack of any climbing structures in the leopard exhibit (or more like fish tank) at WMSP, majority of exhibits at Twycross etc etc.
    Also, white Tigers and Lions.
     
  3. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    An interesting post, and I too am not a fan of strollers clogging up visitor pathways. The National Aquarium in Baltimore, regarded as one of the 10 best aquariums in North America, actually BANS strollers from the establishment. I took this from their website:

    Stroller Check:

    Consider leaving your stroller at home or in the trunk of your car. Because of the escalators and moving walkways inside the Aquarium, strollers cannot be used inside. If you do bring a stroller, Aquarium staff will store it for you and provide a backpack or frontpack child-carrier. The higher vantage point will also provide your children with a better view of many exhibits.
     
  4. cwenwyn

    cwenwyn Well-Known Member

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    @ashley - I invite any and all comments and/or gripes! :)

    @snowleopard - what really gets my goat is when they pull right up in front of the exhibit window (excuse me, but that was my foot you rolled over) and proceed to have the children also STAND there. So, during a crowded day or at a popular animal, you have now taken twice the room you needed to enjoy it...

    Grrr.

    I think I'm getting old and curmudgeonly.... you kids! Get off my lawn!!!!
     
  5. GillP

    GillP Well-Known Member

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    I am a parent, but even before I read what cwenwyn had to say I was also going to moan about zoos pandering to kids.

    So far as pushchairs are concerned, when my kids actually needed them, I'd take a lightweight version which could easily be folded up and slung under my arm or over my shoulder to allow them the opportunity to walk (which I think should be encouraged) but which meant I didn't get in others' way ...... but I agree, I get very annoyed with parents of kids with pushchairs loaded with everything but the kitchen sink who seem to have no spacial awareness whatsoever.

    Far worse than that though are the parents who encourage their kids to bang on the glass or shake the netting or chuck food into an open enclosure. It's so irresponsible, and potentially cruel and/or dangerous. I wish keepers and/or other staff would get firmer with people like this and chuck them straight out !

    I also hate the proliferation of playgrounds, "adventure this, that and the other", "kidz (sic) zones" and similar which are often all over the zoo. For heaven's sake, as a parent, this often makes it really hard to walk round and properly look at the animals without tears and arguments as your kids plead to play on the swings, slides and climbing frames. Okay, we all know children enjoy playgrounds, but why does there have to be multiple examples in so many zoos ...... why not have one kiddie area at the end of the route so the whole family can enjoy the animal experience properly first ?

    In my experience, when zoos are laid out like that, my 5 year old takes a real interest in the animals and isn't distracted. I am quite capable of talking to her about animals and making it fun, asking her to spot things, asking her to imagine what a particular animal enjoys doing or eating etc.

    Apart from that, I agree with Ashley about "little things" which could easily be fixed. I suppose it all adds up but it's so disheartening to visit the same zoo over and over and see the same fault still there.

    I suppose one thing which always upsets me is the comparative lack of space in many enclosures (said as an amateur who's going on gut instinct). That is when I get doubly annoyed at a playground immediately adjacent to a seemingly cramped exhibit.

    I guess some zoos would inevitably argue that if they didn't provide all-singing all-dancing "play areas" ticket sales would drop as that is "what families want these days" ........ but I certainly don't, and most of friends with children don't either.
     
  6. James27

    James27 Well-Known Member

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    Bristol zoo has an absolutely tiny playground, and that zoo's doing just fine, ergo, they're not needed to keep numbers up ;)
     
  7. taun

    taun Well-Known Member

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    As a parent myself, I find it annoying to see other peoples children misbehave. This is then seen as ok to my child.

    However lets make sure we don't punish the child for the parents bad parenting skills, its the parents fault that they are not taking an interest in their children.

    Stroller or Pushchair issue, when the child is young then you do need to take one and yes while the child is not using I do use it to carry other things. However now my daughter is old enough I leave it at home because my child is much more capable of walking a longer distance.

    Shouldn't we also look at why zoo's are not confronting this issue or is it the fact they don’t know about it or that there is a minority that see this as an issue?
     
  8. sooty mangabey

    sooty mangabey Well-Known Member

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    Agreed. As a parent of four young children, i really don't want playgrounds everywhere - and those that are there should be separate from the main zoo. It's not a place I particularly like, but Drusillas does this well - a very big play area, but wholly apart from the animals.

    Parents who don't keep thier children in line should, without doubt, be shot. I see it far, far too often: and 'good' 'middle-class' parents are often the worst. If they trained their chidlren to know that 'no' means 'no', if they weren't frightened to discipline them, if they set high standards themselves, the world - not just zoos - would be a whole lot better.

    Other pet peeve: signs and educational stuff which haven't ever been looked after properly - dreadful high-tech stuff which has gone wrong (as ti always does) and not been fixed; more old-school signs which are showing signs of age, but haven't been nurtured. At twycross, for eg, the aardwolf sign has had several letters peeled off. Sort it out! And the signs at Colchester's African enclosures! Ye Gods!
     
  9. James27

    James27 Well-Known Member

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    I love the way though that kids can now say "you punish me and I'll go to the police with assault charges"! Seen it happen myself, shame we can't even do what Chimps will quite often do and slap our kids (not that I have any lol).
    And signage thing annoys me too. I want a bit more than the Latin name and the conservation status. Zoos are meant to be educational places, no wonder the public never reads the signs if they just have the animal's name.
     
  10. GillP

    GillP Well-Known Member

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    I forgot another one ......

    ...... zoos (or any attraction) where you literally can't get out without having to walk through the wretched giftshop. Okay if you're on your own (though sometimes just getting across Colchester's shop is a battle in itself) but a nightmare with children (despite saying "no", I resent being forced into that position).
     
  11. zooman

    zooman Well-Known Member

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    The zoos are not adressing this issue as it would be very costly!

    Statistics tell us most zoo visitors are there to bring there children for a day out.

    If it were not for all thoose parents with children and prams coming to zoos. Attendance would be down and we would not have the great exhibits we now have.

    So to all you grumps critising people with a pram that yes may not hold children at the time you see it. It may even be overflowing with jakets and bags ect. You should actually be thanking us for the great exhibit you are lookiung at!

    What l like least at a zoo is that the nearest toilet is never close by!!;)

    Actually l cant think of anything l dont like about zoos! Except the obvious "lack of enrichment"
     
  12. taun

    taun Well-Known Member

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    I think you have not understood me, I was just trying to highlight that its only a minority that see this as a problem.
     
  13. zooman

    zooman Well-Known Member

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    Yeah sorry matey reading that post back! It is not at all clear. I do agree with your post. I did not see that you thought only a minority saw it as a problem.
     
  14. taun

    taun Well-Known Member

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    Not a problem, being a parent myself I find it sometimes annoying when people paint the picture that they and their kids are inconsiderate.
     
  15. cwenwyn

    cwenwyn Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps the problem isn't the stroller/pram itself but where you take it that is annoying. I'm sure that you don't wheel it up to the front of the glass, park it long-wise and hold the former occupant during crowded times or at popular exhibits, because you are condsiderate and understand that without said contraption in the way more people can enjoy the animals at the same time. :)

    As an aside, anybody else fascinated when a big cat "stalks" one of the kids in the crowd, watching them intently? Child thinks "big kitty likes me!" and I'm thinking "big kitty is evaluating you - how fast you might be and how many of her cubs you might feed!"...

    Okay, I am definitely a curmudgeon... :D
    I was stalked once... it was a bit thrilling, especially knowing I was pretty safe.....
     
  16. zooman

    zooman Well-Known Member

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    How about a 3yo boy. First trully aware trip to the zoo. Approaches the glass viewing window. Full of child curiosity and trust and love. Only at that very same momment a gorilla charges a smashes into the glass viewing window at exactly the same point! Poor little guy scared S...less 3 months of nightmares!

    Or the prerecorded lion roars! I do wonder if the designers were aware of these flaws when concieving these ideas.
     
  17. Smeegs

    Smeegs Member

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    I always think it is a good thing when I see a child being stalked by a tiger or lion on the other side of the glass. I just think how awesome it is that they are doing that natural behavior.

    I applaud all the parents out there who try and bring their kids to the zoo, I have had to give countless tours to parents with young children and it is never easy to come up with ways to keep them on the trail and to stop them from running ahead. When you do come up with an idea it typically doesn't work that long either :p

    I completely understand the stroller issue and the problems with signs and such that do not get the upkeep they need. The thing that bothers me the most is that some people seem to refuse to read the signs at all and instead make up information to tell their children, but from what I have seen that problem is getting much better as zoos design signs that appeal more to everyone. Also I think having the volunteers and keepers stand in front of the exhibit helps spread the right message.

    The one thing that really irks me is when an exhibit is obviously too small, but I haven't seen that recently at the zoos I have been visiting at least.
     
  18. Hix

    Hix Wildlife Enthusiast and Lover of Islands Premium Member

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    I can tell you that, from the other side of the fence, both kids and adults are often the biggest source of frustration and annoyance to keepers. Especially school groups - with their mates to encourage them and usually no responsible adult around - 'coz the teachers are glad for a break - school kids run amok around the zoo and make a hell of a lot of noise. And in buildings the racket is amplified and reverberates. Great for staff with headaches.

    Despite signs asking you not to do it, people (both kids and adults) still insist on feeding the animals. And it's generally anything that comes to hand - sandwiches, chocolate, chips, icecream, lollies.

    And if you have to be in the exhibit for any reason, like cleaning or maintenance, then you get the traditional "What kind of animal are you?" or "Now there's an endangered species!" followed by a some laughter. They always think they've come up with something original (and funny). On a bad day you can hear these comments every few minutes. You learn quickly to ignore them, and then some people get the idea you have no sense of humour.

    Some years ago a female keeper was cleaning the camel yard at Taronga Zoo. Some idiot walked up with his girlfriend looked around the exhibit and then said "That's a weird looking camel. Come on honey, show us your humps!"

    I left the zoo industry several years ago, and the public is one of the few things I do NOT miss about working in zoos.

    :)

    Hix
     
  19. Sand Cat

    Sand Cat Well-Known Member

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    Like most people, I have to say its the visitors. But as someone else said, as annoying as children can often be, its the parents I blame, for not taking enough responsibility for their kids' actions. I've also quite often seen kids who like animals and want to learn more about them, but the parents just don't want to know. E.g. at Mablethorpe Seal Sanctuary, the genet tends to attract attention a lot. I've seen a child ask what it is, and be told its "a little cat" when there's a sign nearby explaining that its NOT a cat!
     
  20. mazfc

    mazfc Well-Known Member

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    I get annoyed when people dont recognise the animal or totally misidentify it.

    Its a very poor exhibit that doesnt have a sign up somewhere telling you who's in ti and where they come from.

    read the signs people!! ;)