Monday, January 24, 2011

The Not-Quite an International Incident Story

Did you read this story over the weekend? Apparently a woman visiting a Ukrainian aquarium leaned over an animal enclosure to take a "dramatic" picture of the crocodile and dropped her phone. The crocodile swallowed the phone--yes, they are sure: the phone can be heard ringing in the poor croc's belly. It appears that the animal is going to need surgery to clear the phone out of his intestines. He's not feeling so great right now.

Those who haven't been to a zoo outside of the U.S. might be scratching their heads a little bit at this story. How did someone get that close to an animal? American zoos usually have double barriers to keep zoo visitors and animals separated. I used to think it was to keep the people safe from the animals (or the zoo safe from sue-happy people), but now I'm starting to realize that it also keeps the animals safe from the people!

I have written before about our near international incident, but I was completely joking! However, after reading this croc story, I feel a little bad for thinking it was funny. You see, European zoos (the ones I have been to, anyway) do not have those double barriers for most animals. I think the general attitude is, "Well, if you are stupid enough to get too close to the animals, you deserve what you get." (And, really--is that so wrong?) Here is a look at an example of the signs they post to clue you in on the obvious:

Funny, right? We took that picture at the Karlsruhe Zoo hippo exhibit and thought the whole thing was just a hoot and a half. Well, about 30 seconds after we took that picture, there was a small incident. Can you see it?

June 2010 053

No? Well, let's try this one. Look hard.

June 2010 054

Still not getting the job done? Well, this should do it. Check out the foreground of the shot. You can't miss it.

June 2010 052

That's right! Izzy, riding in the backpack carrier, threw his pacifier right into the water. We didn't even notice it right away. It floated out about 10 feet before I spotted it--and promptly made a smart remark about someone's kid being upset about losing his binky. Cue exaggerated, embarrassed, slow motion realization. Figures, right? And who knows? If we had noticed it right away, we might have been those idiots who leaned over the partition to try to fish it out. It's definitely a possibility, although I would love to tell you that we wouldn't have!

Do you think you would have tried to nab it? What if it was, literally, less than a foot away? And have you ever had a close encounter with an animal? Or witnessed something strange at a zoo/aquarium?

P.S. While looking for a link to the zoo I found a story about a fire that from this past November. It killed a number of animals and threated the elephant and hippo exhibits. That makes me kind of sad. (By the way, The Local is a decent English-language news source for what is happening in Germany. Bookmark it if you are there or expect to head that way soon.)

P.P.S. We named the puppy Fiona!

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