A Tour Of The Zoo

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(Sound of birds chirping and children laughing.)

Oh, hello! And welcome to the Metropolitan Zoo’s Audio Guidebook. Thank you for joining us today on a beautiful listen through the zoo. Weather such as today’s weather is perfect for our tour, so let’s get going! Get your bags together, make sure you have your hat on, and we’ll begin. Press “stop” on the tape now and then press “play” when you’re ready to start.

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So! (Long, uncomfortable pause.) You’re blind. We know, it’s pretty rough (tuba blats) but you know what? It’s also…good enough! (Bugle blares.) While being blind means you can’t drive a car to the zoo (sound of a car hitting a wall, and then a hubcap rolling away), it doesn’t mean you can’t take a tour of the zoo! So keep that chin up, those fists clenched, and that seeing-eye dog leashed, and let’s start by taking two hundred steps straight ahead. Press “stop” on the tape and then click “play” when you hit the Plexiglas window and feel like you’re in the shade.

*****

You made it! Congratulations on visiting the first stop on the tour. Now, to your immediate left are the grizzly bears. There are four of them either sitting on a log, sleeping near the pond, or not doing either of those things. Also, if any of them have had babies or died since this tape was made in November 1996, there may be a different number of bears, doing some sort of other thing, today at the zoo! Feel free to ask a fellow zoo-lover what the bears are doing. (Whispering.) And psst, maybe make a lighthearted joke about your blindness to alleviate the tension! We recommend saying, “Bear with me, I can bearly see these things — do you mind telling me what they’re doing now?” (Normal voice.) Press “stop” on the tape now to ask some questions and then press “play” when you’re ready to hear more about bears.

*****

Thanks for coming back to the tour. And now that you know what the bears are doing let’s try and picture what they look like. First, take a second and touch your own face. See how your nose juts out of your head like that? Don’t worry, it’s normal! Ha ha ha ha ha HA HA HA HA HA!!! Now. Picture your nose jutting out several more inches! Oh and by the way, an inch is approximately the size of half your thumb. And…sorry, but just so we’re clear, the thumb is that short fat finger on your hand. Now, did you picture a longer nose? Good. Now touch your teeth. See how pointy they are? Imagine they were much more pointy. This is what a bear looks like. Much more pointy teeth and a bigger, more extended nose. Now picture attaching a dinner roll to the bottom of your spine and you’ll have yourself a bear’s tail. Rowrrr! You’re a bear! You want to eat berries! You like fish! You will potentially maul and viciously murder campers! Ha ha ha! (Pause.) Now please stop the tape, walk fifty feet north-northwest, and press “play” again. Remember, if you get lost, just raise your hands and clap them together three times (sound of three claps) so one of our zoo tour guides will come and help you. Okay, and stop the tape…now!

*****

Welcome back! And congratulations on braving the walk across that rickety rope bridge over the extremely dangerous alligator pit!…Ha ha ha! Just kidding! You actually just walked through the Asian Pavilion themed food court. (Sound of a gong smash.) Go on. Take a whiff. (Sound of a nose sniffing.) You’re probably smelling soy sauce and chicken balls that someone spilled on the ground. Now, is your seeing-eye dog barking? If so, that’s unfortunately against zoo policy and you may be asked to leave. Also, it’s probably because we’re at the wolf pen! That’s right — dogs tend to know their own, and wolves — or Canis lupus — are actually an ancestor of today’s common domestic dog. What’s your dog’s name, anyway? (Pause.) Oh, that’s a nice name! I also have one called that.

One thing you probably haven’t noticed about the wolf pen is that there are wolves in it. That’s right — as you listen to this tape, a pack of wolves is undoubtedly performing incredibly wolflike activities, including making wolf noises, looking like a wolf, and walking in a wolflike fashion. Take your time to enjoy the wolves (sound of a nose sniffing) and then, when you’re ready, stop the tape and take seventy steps to your immediate right. Stop when you hit a metal rail and hear splashing.

Hello again! And welcome to the penguin area! Directly in front of you right now are penguins likely sunning themselves and waddling around looking for fish. Penguins, like you and me, walk. But unlike me, and potentially unlike you, they walk funny. Have you ever dropped your pants and then tried to walk around while they were still around your ankles? Pretty awkward, right? Well, guess what! This is how penguins walk around all day! Also, have you ever worn a tuxedo? Like to a wedding or something? It’s like clothes, but nicer? Some people say that it looks like penguins are wearing tuxedos due to the black and white color of their feathers. By the way, black is the color of your eyelids when you’re going to sleep and white is the color of your eyelids when you stare directly at the sun, the hot part of the sky. And … well, penguins are pretty weird, basically. And bears are, too. And so are wolves. For the most part, going to the zoo is like meeting all these weird versions of yourself, and instead of doing things like you, they do things unlike you. That’s what going to the zoo is all about! Meeting weird-yous.

Please stop the tape, turn around, and take sixty steps straight ahead.

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Welcome back to the zoo entrance. We hope you have enjoyed a brief tour of the Metropolitan Zoo and we hope you come back soon. By the way, we are requesting funds in our budget to put together a new tape each year, so we will introduce you to different animals and pavilions each time you come. If you’re listening to a really old tape right now, it means that we either didn’t get our budget approved, or the rental clerk was all out of the current tape and figured you wouldn’t notice. Either way, thanks!

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