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Examiner
  • Jason Offutt: Off to the zoo; hide the animals

  • The proposal sounded good: Spend a day at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha with my 6-year-old, who likes to pretend she’s all sorts of animals, and she could now see them in person.

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  • The proposal sounded good: Spend a day at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha with my 6-year-old, who likes to pretend she’s all sorts of animals, and she could now see them in person.
    The catch was the other 60 kindergarteners on the trip. I had no control of them whatsoever and I was, frankly, a little afraid.
    “The kindergarten field trip is to the zoo,” my wife said weeks earlier, holding the permission slip the Girl brought home from school.
    “Great,” I said. “She’ll have fun.”
    “They’re asking parents to help.”
    Makes sense. Sixty kindergarteners unsupervised in a zoo could mean only one thing. The end of civilization.
    “That’s nice.”
    “I think one of us should go,” she said.
    Sure. I’d hate for the Girl to ride on a bus for two hours one way and wander the zoo without one of us to make sure she’s safe, or at least the animals were safe, then ride home all cranky. I nodded. She and her mom would have a great time.
    “Terrific,” my wife said. “I have to work that day.”
    Wow. I’d just walked into something parents are always looking for a break from. Even more responsibility.
    Standing outside the zoo amidst a throng of little people, I watched teachers try to herd the kindergarteners into organized lines when the animals were “oh my gosh. They’re right over there. I heard them.” It was like trying to organize a dray of squirrels.
    No. Scratch that. The movements of squirrels are much more predictable.
    “What do you want to see first?” I asked the Girl after we’d peeled from the group with two more parents and two children.
    “Giraffes, and zebras, and penguins, and butterflies, and monkeys with red butts, and Pokémon, and cheetahs,” she said like she’d just had a triple-mocha latte, which she hadn’t.
    “Pokémon aren’t real,” I told her.
    “I know, but can we watch Pokémon when we get home?”
    We hit everything at the zoo, except the Pokémon exhibit.
    Ranked the third best zoo in American by American Livewire, the second best zoo by The Philadelphia Inquirer, and America’s top zoo by TripAdvisor.com, the Henry Doorly Zoo boasts the world’s largest indoor desert, one of the largest indoor rainforest exhibits, and an impressive gorilla habitat. But the Girl wanted more.
    “I want to see vampire bats,” the Girl said.
    The zoo has those, too.
    After professing the fact that she wasn’t tired, she fell asleep five minutes after we pulled out of the zoo parking lot.
    Page 2 of 2 - “What was your favorite animal?” I asked once we got home. Given the fact that we’d seen cheetahs, penguins, flamingos, and zebras (all things she’s pretended to be), I expected her choice to be one of them.
    Of course it wasn’t.
    “The monkeys with the red butts. I want to take off all my clothes and just live with the monkeys,” she said, then flitted away.
    Her brother shook his head.
    “I don’t trust her,” he said. “She’d throw poop at us.”
    Yes, she probably would.
    Follow Jason Offutt on Twitter @TheJasonOffutt.
     
     
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