The Losanjealous Zoo and Botanical Gardens

zoo animalsI was calling it a zoo-lag and now I am a card-carrying member of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA) and I can experience wildlife with my loved one whenever I want until December 31, 2006.

I’ll tell you more. I don’t mean to sound sullen or mean-spirited about the LA Zoo. It bothers me no matter how well the animals are kept to see them living in exhibit areas. However, I also saw little kids discovering these creatures for the first time, putting a lot of priceless questions to perfectly enchanted zoo personnel about what the animals like to eat, and how soft they are and whatnot. To the Zoo’s credit, they introduce these animals to children as creatures worth fighting to preserve. It’s one thing to watch Animal Planet and another to see animals up close.

First, a little about where (I think) it is. I think it’s on or off the 5 which connects to the 405 via the 10. The sign that says “This Way to the Zoo” is clearly marked and demarcates a path around several corners leading to a humongous parking lot. You must park your car before entering the zoo.

Before the gates are two very distinct lines of scrimmage formed by people who think they will animal2save money buying a day pass and people who want a year round membership that includes many free day passes for your loved ones, 10% discounts and private tours. I cannot imagine why anyone pays the regular entrance fee, so I cannot tell you the day rate. Incidentally, you can support GLAZA by adopting an animal species, naming animals, sponsoring an exhibit or capital product, or supporting an educational program. It’s on the leaflet.

Also on the leaflet: Losanjealous City Congressman Tom LaBonge advises you NOT to feed the animals and to protect and respect them. All of the zoo animals are on special diets and the wrong food can make them sick. City Congressman LaBonge wears a glove on which is perched a variant of eagle or falcon, and wears the uneasy smile of the falconer.

Once through the entry plaza, you can rent strollers and wheelchairs.

Now I will describe the animals I saw in order of their appearance:

  • Sea Lions! Playful and territorial, these creatures will disembowel anything that goes near them.
  • Meekrats! We tried like hell to see them, but they’re meek.
  • Flamingoes! Lots and lots of pink ones standing on one foot. Very Fellini. Downwind is a bit strong in the nose.
  • American Alligator! Poor guy… It says in the biggest font, “Do not throw pennies at the alligator,” and what do you think people are doing? I called this Hungarian tourist guy a piece of shit for doing that and he mumbled something pathetic about wanting to see it move. Alligators stay still for ten hours at a time and do not move until they’re good and goddamn ready. If you had alligators in Hungary, you’d be owned, bizatcha… CODA: The nice zookeeper told me the animal was not feeding at that time and that she would go in later and get the penny out.
  • Kangaroo! Many varieties, most of them sad, none of them hopping around.
  • Komodo Dragon! No fire breath. Fiercer to think about than to behold, much like the year 1975.
  • Arabian Oryx! And I thought the babirusa was exotic…
  • Elephant! Now here’s the thing that probably pissed off Bob Barker. The zookeepers have programmed robots to toss carrots at this creature in a way that makes it walk back and forth for exercise. It comes over here and eats three carrots and then it goes over there and eats three carrots. Elephants never forget. The perimeter fence is far from the creature. Hmmm…
  • Lion! Both Leo and his mate were very lethargic for killer cats. I am told lions sleep twenty hours a day. But could it be the cage? Describing a Panther in a zoo, Rainer Maria Rilke said (in translation) “He has from the passing back and forth of bars become so tired/it is as if a great will stands numbed…” Well, right back atcha, Rilke.
  • Masai Giraffe! Three of them prehistorically tall, eating leafs off of the trees on the other side of the fence, with children gathered nearby… These soft creatures remind me of my loved one. Actually, she’s more of a babirusa…
  • Chimpanzees of Mahale Mountains! Everybody likes monkeys. The rock and waterfall set, very Kubrick, until they eat each other’s poo and throw sticks and do monkey things not seen on the discovery channel – although for Valentine’s Day, they offered an adults-only tour of the mating habits of various animal species. Lots of them, maybe a whole barrel of monkeys, might have volunteered for that. Incidentally, I don’t know who dissuades them from swinging out of that cage. It’s not that fucking hard.
  • Safari Café! I ate here because I got ten percent off with my membership, and I would not recommend it. Nothing that is a vegetable can exist outside the churro carts.
  • rhino assMany other animals! I was tired from walking so I didn’t take the road less traveled past the Zebras. I posed for a solitary picture next to a warthog with a pretty name, and I went out of my way to see the camels, as my loved one is from Lebanon, where they have camels in zoos also. I wandered past a great open range of bulldozed earth where officials want to bring gorillas, and just headed home when the voice over the intercom said the LA Zoo would be closing in twenty minutes.

Weekend zoo exodus is close to the freeway. Zoo to Venice, thirty minutes.