Going to the zoo: when you have children, it's a thing you do, isn't it? I'm zoo averse, normally. There's something about the whole project, with its small helpings of context-riven animals, one after the other after another, that gives me a kind of existential vertigo.
But I've been twice this month, and while the vertigo persists, I will admit that it is nice to see several napping otters all in a heap, and the capybaras are good too. The rest is a mixed bag. The condor enclosure has piped-in flute music, for reasons that remain unclear to me. There is a glass-fronted cavelet full of hissing cockroaches with a red button underneath that you can press to hear their hisses. It sounds to me very much like some assistant zookeeper got roped into making this recording, and I don't mean by holding up a microphone to the insects.
"Maisie! Come hiss into the box. You do it best."
"Oh, all right. Ssss. Sss. Ssssssss. Are you happy now?"
There are also giraffes, which remain gratifyingly bizarre, even to my jaded adult perceptions. Their necks are so very long, and their tongues so very black. Their heads are so very small by comparison to the rest of them, even as they are very large indeed by comparison to you. Also, they stink. (Apparently they have "at least eleven main aromatic chemicals in the fur." Delicious.) Later Steve regaled me with giraffe facts gleaned from Wikipedia.
"Let's find out about the giraffe lifestyle!"
"Lifestyle? Being a giraffe isn't a choice, you know."
"During courtship, dominant males will displace subordinates from the presence of the females, by staring and walking towards them."
"Although generally quiet and non-vocal, giraffes have been heard to communicate with various sounds. Courting males will emit loud coughs."
"I'll just wait here patiently while you tell me how terribly your current boyfriend treats you. You know, sometimes it's funny how we don't see the best solution to our problems when it's right in front of us! COUGH COUGH."
"And male giraffes determine female fertility by tasting the female's urine in order to detect estrus."
"Just like you, darling!"
"I beg your pardon."
"No, right, sorry, I had you confused with someone else. A giraffe."
So it appears that there is a giraffe lifestyle, and it consists of silent menace, passive aggression, and drinking pee. Giraffes: just like undergraduates, only taller? You be the judge.