Friday, July 13, 2007

Animal prison

Radar Sherpa make an elephant big-house call

Clay and I cruise slowly into the Santa Barbara zoo's parking lot and after 5 minutes or so the black Beam is resting in the shade. Our entrance into the animal prison is delayed by the mini train which clangs and clacks along just inside the black iron gates which mark the entrance to Noah's prison. 95% of the visitors are families and many stare curiously at the 2 strange men as I pay the 20 dollar entrance fee. We walk slowly along the wide cemented pathway checking out some otters as they swim around in their tiny little cement wading pool filled with clear water. We pass a couple monkey cages and listen to the crows banter songs of freedom up in the tall trees - they are the only wild animals in the zoo. The rest have been domesticated, compartmentalized and bleached into hollow replicas of their ancestors. The elephant jail soon appears. I am happy to see that they are not forced to walk on concrete. Clay and I sit and observe as one grand elephant walks as if in slow motion out from his cement building. He seems to look me straight in the eye and I watch as his giant ears flap around gathering the various noises into his brain and gently shooing away the hungry insects. It almost seems like he is going to walk towards me and receive my didjeridoo blessing up close. He has a big grin on his big gray face and then makes a right hand turn towards a red-faced dehydrated looking animal handler who has hay, pellets and a branch for him to munch on. I take my timber slide-didge out of its case and begin to play. The elephant seems to hear and pauses in his snacking to wave his ears around curiously seemingly in response to some of my higher frequency overtones, tonings and singings.

After playing for 10 minutes or so, two zoo employees walk by quickly and then a minute or so later they return from the other direction and politley say: "Musical instruments are not allowed to be played here because the animals may become dangerous to people. Their response to music is unpredictable and we do not want that here. Even though they seem to be enjoying your music, I have to tell you to stop."

While she spoke, her eyes looked up and to the left, diagonally, leading me to believe that I was witnessing an automated response. After she completed her diplomatic paragraph I said: "Well that concludes my visit then. I guess I won't be getting a membership here. Thanks for being so nice in the way you told me to stop."

With that, Clay and I smoothly began our exit. When we reached the ticket window, I asked for a refund. "I've only been here 20 minutes and would like my money back."


I smile and say: "Well, I came here to bless the elephants and it turns out that it is illegal to bless the elephants, so I think that it is ridiculous for me to pay 20 dollars when I just provided a million dollar blessing for free."

The supervisor smiled knowingly, understanding that I was joking and not joking. He handed me back my $20 and we left the animal prison.

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1 comment:

Dennis Leary said...

Thanks. This is hilariously sad but true.

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