When the eldest was about three and change, we were in England for a visit. The weather was, well, English like, so we were chilled and it was drizzly and rather blech-like. That didn't stop us, of course, as the folks I was with, including my own offspring, were of fine British stock. Blech-like weather stops nothing.
We went to a zoo. It wasn't that stereotypical American zoo experience, of course. It was more a mash-up between an American zoo and what I imagine a roadside animal attraction on Route 66 looks like.
For all you PETA folks out there, I stand solidly in solidarity with you. I am not a zoo person. I am always depressed following a zoo visit. I swallow this sadness like a huge glob of grubs and do not convey it to the children. [All right, you're right, then, I'm not in solidarity with you because I am perpetuating the existence of zoos with my frequent visits with the kids. And I do not rail to my children against the audacity of man to imprison these animals. But inside, dear PETA, I'm with you.]
The Eldest was fascinated by the tiger. It was in a rectangular enclosure, not too wide but rather long. And Eldest was amazed. He would look eye-to-eye at this magnificent creature, and he would walk the length of the enclosure. The tiger walked right next to him, eyeing him all the time. Back and forth the two went. Eldest was awed by his ability to have the tiger follow a kind of Simon-says routine. "Look, Mom-mom, look at me and the tiger," he'd say. He was thrilled that the tiger was following him.
I was utterly chilled by the tiger stalking my little boy. I mean, down to the core, I felt true fear. I hated it. I hated watching that tiger hunting my son. I hated my brain's whirring, taking me down the path of imagining that tiger lose. Imagining that tiger ripping my little boy to shreds.
It's been nearly eight years since that tiger sent chills down my spine. Whenever we go to a zoo, I can recall that. I hate watching the tigers. Alas, the kids adore seeing them.
We were supposed to go to the zoo today to see the reindeer and the seasonal skating rink. It was to be our Thursday outing. While we usually go to the Oakland Zoo, we were going to the San Francisco one because of their holiday special.
The zoo is closed, of course, following the escape of one of the two Siberian tigers. Tatiana got out, mauled one person to death and mauled two others before being shot dead by the police.
"Look at the nice tiger, Mom-mom."