Matthew Lickona 11:49 p.m., Dec. 10
Deep in the heart of Balboa Park lies the San Diego Zoo. Known as one of San Diego's biggest and best attractions, tourists and locals alike flock to the zoo all year round, and I myself have spent many a sunny afternoon observing both the animals and the people. After several trips to the zoo this year, I began to notice an interesting trend.
I know this sounds crazy, but every time I go to the zoo, I always see at least one person wearing a Pink Floyd tee shirt. Once, I counted as many as four people sporting the psychedelic tee in a single visit! Then it occurred to me that Pink Floyd has an album entitled “Animals”. I got to thinking. Maybe there is some sort of cosmic connection between the zoo and Pink Floyd. Maybe there is a sub-culture of zoo visitors who, inspired by the music of Pink Floyd, are making a subconscious effort to get in touch with their primal selves by seeking out the company of animals. Or maybe I just pay way too much attention to fashion. In any case, there's no denying it: the San Diego Zoo is teeming with Pink Floyd fans.
So, I decided to write a how-to guide for those of you who want to visit the zoo the "Floydian" way. If you have never been to the zoo, or even if you've been there a hundred times, I promise, you've never seen it like this! Throw on some comfy shoes and open up your mind as I invite you to experience:
The Dark Side of the Zoo.
Speak to Me/Breath-
First of all, you must be warned that you will soon be surrounded by a cornucopia of animal sounds and smells. Your first breath once inside the zoo might be a little funky. It is the waft of 400 stinky pink flamingos which greets you at the front gate. Be aware that you will also be hearing an assortment of different languages. Some will be familiar, some won't. Hear the softly spoken magic spell.
Time and Money-
Yes, it will cost you. Be prepared to spend a full day's pay for a full day's walk around the zoo. Buy a zoo membership and keep reading. You'll be back again and again, and for the cost of two visits, you can go for free all year long.
Us and Them-
Once inside, you will begin to notice five distinct categories of people. Know who to meet and greet, and who to look out for.
1.The zoo staff. Easily recognizable by their khaki uniforms and goofy smiles.
2.The families. They'll be toting diaper bags, strollers, water bottles, sack lunches, three or four kids, and probably a grandparent or two. They are slow and noisy, and they usually scare the animals away. They usually scare me away, too.
3.The tourists. What they lack in child accessories, they make up for in photo equipment, fanny packs, and dorky clothes. They can usually be found crowding an exhibit and talking loudly in foreign tongues. Do not make direct eye contact, or they will ask you to take their picture.
4.The couple. Yes, the zoo can also be romantic. Monkeys with erections and tortoise coitus are the perfect thing to set the mood, be it your first date or fifty-first anniversary. Springtime at the zoo is a particularly erotic time to visit.
5.And last but not least, the counter culture, experimental youths who are well-versed in the arts of mind altering experiences and field trips. For them, the zoo is a great place to contemplate age-old questions, such as "Are zebras white with black stripes or black with white stripes?"
Sometimes, I think that the more intelligent the animal, the more likely it is to go insane. The apes for example, must surely be aware of their confinement. It is easy to pity for these poor beasts, as they gaze out into an endless sea of faces, hands, and camera flashes. But if you think about it, the animals at the zoo are no less free than you or I. Humans are also trapped, confined to our routines and dependent on our cars, our coffees, our cubicles. The ropes of responsibility, the cages of commitment, the leashes of life. The lunatic is on the path. The lunatic is on the grass. We are all in this together.
The zoo is chock full of colors, feelings, sounds, smells and tastes. Your five senses will be stimulated, and your sixth sense might even come out of hibernation.
All that you touch, and all that you see all that you taste, all you feel And all that you love and all that you hate all you distrust, all you save
And all that you eat, and everyone you meet And all that you slight, and everyone you fight And all that is now, and all that is gone And all that's to come, and everything under the sun is in tune And the sun is eclipsed by the zoo.
Dedicated to Floyd fans and friends of animals everywhere.