For some strange reason recently my thoughts have drifted into memories of the Hogle zoo as a kid. Perhaps it is the fresh scent of elephant dung circulating the house lately or the petting zoo I have been planning to put behind the garage? I am not sure, but something has got me thinking about the old times at the zoo. (It was called a zoo, but really it is just a collection of about 100 grungy animals lying around in concrete cages.) Does anyone else remember:
Those wax animals that you could have made for two dollars. I remember begging my mom for one of those things, only to be denied over fifty five times. There was something mystical and mysterious about owning a 4 inch mold of wax shaped like a gorilla. And what was with that machine that made those things? - They were huge! Back in 1987, it took eight tons of stainless steel and a six horsepower motor to construct a miniature piece of wax garbage.
- Feeding the deer. Back in the day, the deer at Hogle Zoo would walk right up to the fencing and eat all the bread you could feed them. Of course, for a mere 25 cents you could feed the deer some deer pellets, which turned out to be a gigantic rip off because the deer had become accustomed to eating deer bread and not magical pellets. It would be like eating cake every day and suddenly someone throws a handful of carrots in front of you. Either carrots or deer pellets - either way, you're screwed. Was it at the zoo that a deer ate my sister's hair? I remember an animal eating my sister's hair, but I don't remember where.
- The hippo cage. Now, I am not sure about this, and perhaps it was just a dream, but I swear I remember throwing food into the hippos mouth?? Of course, we all remember the sign in the hippos cage warning of all the crap that had been thrown into the hippo water. I remember as a child staring up at a giant butcher knife displayed in the case. I recall thinking, "What kind of crazy psycho would smuggle in a butcher knife and try to kill the hippo?!" That hippo must have really ticked someone off, what with it's big round teeth and open jaw. And why a butcher's knife? If you really wanted to kill a hippo, wouldn't you want to use a harpoon gun or a pitchfork? Perhaps someone tried, and those items were just too big to put in the casing. And who's to say that all of those things in the display case were not thrown in the hippo water by the same, one person: some deranged, wondering hippo killer; visiting the nation's zoos, searching a way to fulfill his sick, serial killer fantasies.
- Again, I am not sure if this was a dream or not, but I could swear that they used to give elephant rides. If memory serves me right, I was propped up on the back of an elephant and we walked around in a circle. Like I said, could have been a dream, but perhaps someone has the same memory as me?
- The petting zoo. I recall wondering around, not really wanting to touch any of the mangy, lice infested fur balls.
- And how could I forget my experience with the roaming ostrich?
Of course, there are so many more fantastic oddities about that place: the round, stanky snake building, the lion drinking fountain, the nearly empty tiger cages. All in all, it was a pretty good place for a ten year old to spend an afternoon with his mom.