- Responding to Roger Ebert’s reviews
- T/F Film Fest
- About Vox
At the poor, confused age of six, I kept sniffing and sneezing around my grandma’s two adorable yellow labs Volle and George Ann. I had been diagnosed with severe asthma the year before, so let’s just say my breathing a pleasant, normal light wheeze. But around the two puppies I could barely sing, which was necessary for an aspiring Spice Girl. A doctor’s visit was required.
Dr. Griesmer, my pleasant pediatrician, changed my life and world when he told me (and my oh-so-concerned helicopter parents) that I was allergic to pet dandruff in a way that a 6-year-old could understand:
“Lauren, you’re allergic to everything that is furry. You’re allergic to lions, bears and zebras.”
What my parents heard was:
“Lauren, your parents hate animals and this is a perfect excuse they can use for the rest of your life to never having anything adorable in your home.”
And oh, they did. I never (and still have never) owned, walked, fed or taken out a furry friend. The only available outlet to a girl who loved animals but could not hold one of her own was to look at them. At 16, I turned in my first real job application and worked at the Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, Missouri for two and a half years. I fried chicken strips across from kangaroos, I handed out ice cream at birthday parties, and I sold organic giraffe crackers across from a slobbering male named Stretch. And in the process of all those minimum wage hours, I fell in love with zoos. I’ve been to every one in Missouri, and here are some pleasantries I’ve discovered:
Even though there are serious procedures put in place for when animals escape from zoos, there seems to be a bit of a disconnect in procedure and practice. Two gorillas briefly escaped a feeding pen Monday at the Kansas City Zoo due to one employee’s carelessness. Employees and zookeepers, especially those that have spent an extended amount of time interacting with sometimes dangerous animals, experience a significant decrease in fear of them over time. So when something bad does happen, zookeepers, staff and employees are emotionally attached to the animals and sometimes can’t respond logically to the situation. And then a tiger is on the freeway.
2. Zoos view their animals like family members
When 23-year-old giraffe Stretch was put to sleep by Dickerson Park Zoo’s veterinarian, the entire community was in mourning. Stretch was the favorite of the herd, and was extremely friendly with visitors at the giraffe deck exhibit. When members of the Zoo community were given the opportunity to name the next calf, overwhelmingly they voted for Stretch, Jr in honor of their favorite giraffe.
3. Zoos are really, really accessible
The Saint Louis Zoological Park has been free to the community since its creation in 1904. Although parking, some exhibits and food are a an additional cost, the zoo believes firmly that their zoo should be accessible to everyone. The zoo has almost 3 million visitors a year and have 308 full-time employees, making it one of the most visited zoos in the country.
Wild Animal Safari, formerly Exotic Animal Paradise, is located right down I-44 from Springfield and a world away from the rest of the Ozarks. Attendees can experience a wild safari without ever leaving their car with a drive-thru option for viewing the animals. Wildebeests, lemurs, wallabys, camels and bison are free to roam in the park and around vehicles as viewers drive through the park. A zebra stuck his head into my grandpa’s Cadillac when I was there, and that was a silly experience if there ever was.
5. Zoos care about their communities
Dickerson Park Zoo hosts a variety of different fundraisers throughout the year, including its Zoo-Per Bowl Party. Guests at the zoo who bring can goods are offered half-off admission, with the food going to local food banks. This is just one of the multiple fundraisers that zoos across Missouri hold: the Kansas City Zoo hosts its annual Jazzoo cocktail party benefitting the zoo and its education programs for local students and Saint Louis Zoo’s Zoofari black-tie affair benefits conversation efforts at the zoo that sustain its exhibits, as well as various fundraisers throughout the year.
Like Vox on Facebook
- No public Twitter messages.
What we’re chatting aboutart books Columbia Community CoMo dessert Documentaries Documentary downtown downtown Columbia Fashion film Films food Harry Potter Missouri Mizzou movie movies MU music news playlist Ragtag Recipe Recipes restaurants review Shopping social media T/F T/F film fest T/F Film Festival television The Blue Note True/False True/False Film Fest True/False Film Festival True False True False Film Fest TV Twitter vox VVV VVVV
- #NAME? on Six straight Super Regionals for MU softball
- jackpot 6000 slots on Josh Groban’s album All That Echoes signals an edgier sound to come
- jillian on Recipe: Indian curry rice
- Vada Quaker on 5 Lessons to be learned from Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake
- Lesley on Ryan Ferguson has new website, girlfriend?