JonnyB’s Holiday Report – #3 of 3

I have not been to a zoo since a particularly ill-thought out double date around twenty years ago. Toddler Servalan screams with excitement at the first sight of a zebra.

Personally I am looking forward to the elephants. It strikes me that most other zoo animals are just larger or differently-coloured versions of things that you see all the time, apart from elephants, which are unusual and thus very worth making the effort for. I expect they came from space originally.

We pass the lemur enclosure. The Toddler screams with excitement. A seagull then lands in front of us. The Toddler screams with excitement and I realise that I could have saved £19 and just sat on the beach for the day watching free wildlife.

It is a paradox, but I find the look of absolute, utter delight on her face desperately sad. That condition of total happiness and wonder is something that is so fleeting; a few nanoseconds later you are an adult and you will never, ever feel like that again.

The closest thing that I can remember as an adult to that unconditional delight was a few years back on Saffron Hill, in London. A builders’ cradle and hoist had gone terribly wrong, upending a trade canister of white emulsion over a passing businessman, below. He was rooted there, totally white, paint dripping off his suit and briefcase, gesticulating furiously and shouting until the police arrived. It was, by a long chalk, the most brilliant thing that I have ever witnessed in my life. But she can get all that from a passing seagull.

We trot round the rest of the zoo. I know zoos are good at all that conservation stuff and all that, but it seems to me that there are a high proportion of non-endangered small South American mammals that are presumably quite easy to feed and house. The LTLP feeds a parrot.

There are no elephants. I am crushed and disappointed at this. We return to the chalet, pack, and drive home. Some mysterious cucumbers are leaning against the front door.