photo by mastin0100 / flickr (creative commons) 

A Note About Our Zoo

A zoo in China has angered visitors by trying to pass off a hairy dog as a lion, Chinese state media reported…. As [a mother and son] approached the cage marked “African lion,” they were shocked to hear the beast inside emit a bark…. Other species in the park were similarly mislabeled, the newspaper reported, with another dog in the wolf cage, and a white fox on display in the leopard enclosure.
CNN.com, 8/16/13

Dear Visitors,

A zoo in China has recently been criticized for misleading guests about the animals living in its cages. We want to take this opportunity to come clean about our own signs and labels, and correct some mistakes we discovered while doing an audit of our animal population.

  1. As it turns out, our kangaroo is actually a deer with a pocket sewn onto his stomach. We are not sure where the kangaroo went — assuming we did at one point have a kangaroo — or who decided to sew a pocket onto a deer and place him in the kangaroo cage, but what’s done is done. This does help to explain why we have been having trouble getting him to mate with other kangaroos.
  2. Our miniature porcupine is a hairbrush. We apologize to anyone who stood in front of the cage waiting for her to move. We also apologize to our Vice President of Public Affairs, who notified us last year that someone had stolen her hairbrush—a situation we neglected to investigate. The hairbrush will be returned to her, and we are in the process of purchasing a new porcupine from a local salon supply store. She should be in her cage by the end of the month.
  3. The “chicken fingers” at our snack bar are not actually chicken. Nor are they believed to be the fingers of any creature, chicken or not. We believe they are made entirely of panko bread crumbs, deep-fried in a mixture of corn oil and whatever exhibit accidentally fell into the deep fryer. They will remain $6.95, with a side of tater tots. (We are almost entirely certain that the “tater tots” are not made of real tots, though we are still awaiting the official test results.)
  4. Upon careful inspection, it turns out that one of the penguins in our Snow Bird Habitat is a small child wearing a tuxedo. If you lost your child at the zoo at some point in the past six to nine months, please give our security office a call, and we’ll see if he’s a match. If so, you may come and retrieve him, but we will need the tuxedo back.
  5. We don’t have a unicorn, regardless of what the sign says. We’re not sure who made the sign, or who glued the big horn onto the goat, but he is just a goat. Sorry. We’re also not sure why someone thought a goat was the best approximation of a unicorn. We’ll be reattaching the horn to our Triceratops, whose missing horn has been a source of speculation around the office.
  6. Up until now, the mouse exhibit has not been an intentional one. We just have a lot of mice, and they’re everywhere. We’ll be attempting to corral them into one cage, and putting a sign in front with some mouse-related information. Any animal handlers who specialize in mice are invited to apply for our new job opening—more information is available on our web site.
  7. Our spotted turtle is not actually a spotted turtle. He is an unspotted turtle with whom someone had a little too much fun in the Kids’ Corner. We should not have supplied permanent markers to children, and we will refrain from doing so in the future. This also explains the black and white stripes on our Director of Education. She is not, as we may have told some school groups, half-woman and half-zebra.
  8. The spectacled bear should not be wearing glasses. This is a mistake, and has been corrected. He wears contact lenses.
  9. Our “Animals of the Future” exhibit was a mistake in both conception and execution, and has been removed. There was no rational reason to expect that, in the future, dogs will talk, fish will have fur, or camels will grow third, fourth, fifth, and sixth humps. Our clumsy attempts to illustrate these evolutionary changes by altering our existing animals were misguided at best and, in the case of the fish, destructive to life. We apologize for the exhibit, and will try to make more sensible choices in the future regarding what we should and shouldn’t try to change about our animals.
  10. Similarly, our “Animals of the Past” exhibit contained a significant amount of misinformation about extinct species and made inappropriate claims regarding our zoo having “the last horse on Earth.” We now understand that horses are not an endangered species, we do not have the last horse on Earth and, in fact, the animal that we were calling a horse is our intern, Joseph, wearing a horse costume. We are continuing to investigate the situation.

In all, we have made a significant number of changes and corrections to our exhibits, concessions, and staff, and we hope to regain your trust as you continue to enjoy our zoo for years to come.

Best,
Harry Jones, Director of Exhibits
(formerly known as the gorilla in cage 32)