The zoo has never been my favorite place. But I never thought it would almost kill my mother. That is exactly what happened this past weekend. (The following has graphic content, kind of. So get excited.)
Freak accident? Or payback?
I may never know. I gave my almost ten-year-old daughter the choice of destinations for her pre-birthday weekend. She looked through them all, considered, and then picked the zoo. I have not told her that I dislike looking at captive animals. But she did see me leave the circus, distraught, unable to watch a bear being made to dance. In fact, she followed me and waited until the people acts came back on. Needless to say, that was my last trip to the *@&$*#* circus.
But I caved under pressure. Yes, I want to provide my children with that classic childhood where they get to go to zoos, carnivals, amusement parks, fairs, the circus. Unfortch, that childhood is not possible with me as their mom. The classic experience is tainted when I am cringing in the background.
But I keep telling my gut to shut up and we try it anyway.
Four times out of five we regret it. I mean that as an exact statistic.
Amusement Park So far, so good.
After a more assisted look at the map, we head off to see some real animals, or so we think.
Before we go to see the tigers, giraffes and warthogs, my daughter wants to pet a goat. Actually, she wants to feed a goat with a bottle like she saw in the picture online, but that wasn’t being offered. *Shwew* She settles for petting one.
I’m not the pet-strange-animals type, but I am the try-not-to-be-a-party-pooper type (which explains the whole trip), so I stand outside the fence and let Mr. Gregorific and my mother take the girls in to pet the goats. I watch as my daughter finds the only goat who is lying down, motionless. She goes straight to it, like that is the exact one who needs her pets. She kneels and talks to it, while I decide that I’m pretty sure it’s dead.
Then I see my other daughter roaming about, holding what looks to be a floor scrubbing brush. The certain gleam in her eye makes me search frantically for Mr. Gregorific, so I can signal him into high alert and he can intervene before an innocent goat gets an up-do.
“Medic! Medic!” My husband starts calling, proving just how many British cooking shows he watches.
I scan the yard to see why he is yelling and that’s when I see my poor mother and a lot of blood.
I don’t want to gross you out, but they did not clear the pen, they did not offer to help, and they did not stop letting more people in. We insisted they call first aid and we waited *ten* minutes.
First aid was one man wearing a shirt with SECURITY printed on the back. He opened a duffel bag and took out a sani-wipe like you get at a BBQ joint, and a dusty ice pack. The ice pack did not get cold and when he tried to dab the sani-wipe on her injury, we called the whole thing off. I asked what his medical training was, and he then put the sani-wipe down and suggested we go to the ER.
He kindly gave us a lift (in his little golf cart) to the parking lot.
A couple stitches and a lot of trauma later, my mom is fine. She is a real trooper. She told me later what happened.
She saw that the largest goat in the pen was not getting any attention. So, naturally, she went over to pet him. (See any pattern here?) The goat did not see her when she approached from behind and patted his back, at the same time as she leaned down to smell his head. It sounds ridiculous because it is, but it is true. She inadvertently startled the goat and it quickly turned towards her just as she bent in for a sniff. They head butted each other. The goat won.
My mom is an eccentric. (See the pattern here?) But she is also an almost-saint. She did not have to admit that she was trying to smell its head. She did not have to be so gracious with the unprepared Zoo staff, or insist that we continue the birthday weekend rather than race home and call it a disaster. She did not blame the goat, who is fine, in case you were wondering. She did not scapegoat anyone, and she did not even once exploit the perfect opportunity to make jokes about escapegoating--a temptation I cannot resist. There's your proof, people. An eccentric almost-saint.
We salvaged the weekend, and had fun despite the vicious zoo visit. Let me tell you though, I will not be back. And I have a good feeling that my kids won’t either.
All it took was a near death experience.
Don’t smell a goat,