The Killman Zoo

Killman Zoo.  Killman Zoo.  The foreshadowing didn't elude me.  If I ever write a short story about lions or tigers or bears attacking people, it will be set in a place called Killman Zoo.

So there we were, unpacking the kids in a gravel parking lot beside a quiet country road.  "Just wait until you see it," my brother had said. "You don't really understand how big a tiger is until you are standing beside one."  I hadn't taken him too seriously until that moment, standing on the gravel, when I looked to my right and found a lion lazily looking back at me, three feet from the path.  This was going to be death defying.

There is a certain thrill that comes with touring through predators that are fenced in with glorified chicken wire.  It's kind of like skydiving: you've got an insurance policy, but it seems a little flimsy.

The kids thought the giant cats were great.  It was the emus that freaked them out.  The big birds with tiny little heads and long necks, perfectly evolved to fit through chain link fences and beg for peanuts from children.  The owner of the zoo must have a dark sense of humour because he put them on both sides of the four-foot-wide pathway.  If you don't have peanuts in your hand, its kind of funny.  If you do, its a gauntlet.  And did you know Emus make dinosaur-like clucking noises?  They do.  You look into their ugly little faces, listen to them purr, and start to imagine what it is like to be in Jurassic Park.  Its thrilling.

Shawn's favourite part was the cougar.  Entirely because an unsuspecting wild rabbit with a death wish slowly bounced towards its cage.  It was a wildlife documentary happening in real time.  All that was missing was the slow motion and the Sir David Attenborough narration.  When the rabbit bounced in the cage, we knew we should probably shield the children, but we couldn't take our eyes off the scene.  The rabbit narrowly escaped.  We decided that we would never walk alone in a forest again.

Killman Zoo.  Perhaps the most fun you can have without actually risking your life.


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