Don't be an A-hole at the National Zoo
Since I've been working on editing and posting photos from Yellowstone I also made a trip to DC this past November. I didn't really focus on any of the usual landmarks in DC this time. Instead, I wanted to get some good shots from the Smithsonian National Zoo. If you have never been to the National Zoo I highly recommend it. It's not a huge Zoo but it is pretty large and the exhibits are really well done. It's also a nice getaway from the bustle of DC.
Hence my title... don't be an asshole at the National Zoo. This is a place for Americans and foreigners alike to really enjoy something informative, engaging, and relaxing all at once. We had spent most of one day at the National Zoo and I kept gravitating back to the big cats space. The tigers were pacing and letting out the occasional reminder that they are very fierce. The Lions, right next door, were also alert and seemed to enjoying the crowd. I didn't get a decent shot of the tigers as I couldn't get a decent vantage point and are (seemed?) further back from our vantage point. The lions, on the other hand seemed much closer and were on a hill elevating them above the fence unlike the tiger enclosure.
I'd been focusing on trying to get a good shot of the tigers from any angle I could find. While I as doing that I noticed a boy, maybe 16, and his younger brother (maybe 11 or 12) acting like, well, boys. They were prancing around the exhibits trying to mock the big cats sounds. It was really annoying, I have to admit, but hey, they're enjoying the zoo in their own way. While I was focused on trying to capture the tigers and ignore the annoyers a woman came over to the call box next to where I was standing. I couldn't hear what she said because I had put my ear buds in to drown out the idiots still hanging around the exhibit (it's been nearly an hour at this point). I took an ear bud out and asked her if everything was okay and if I could help. She said that the older of the two boys had started throwing rocks at the lions. When I turned around I immediately noticed that both of the lions had gone from laying down and watching us as much as we were watching them to standing, fully alert, and their focus was clearly on the older of the two idiots. As he kept prancing around making "lion noises" I could see them tracking him. I have to admit, I found that fascinating. They knew exactly which moron had been throwing rocks and I would not be surprised (if we could glimpse into their minds) that they were trying to solve the puzzle of escaping their enclosure and making him dinner. They paid zero attention to anything else while this moron in blue sweatpants and sweatshirt continued to parade around making, what now became idiotic, noises.
I walked over to the edge of the lion enclosure at this point (there's a vantage point to both that's maybe 15 meters end-to-end). I hadn't actually see this "man" throw a rock at this point but I wasn't going to be surprised if he did it again. I have no idea where he was getting rocks from. I didn't see any readily available but maybe they were in the bushes somewhere near the exhibit. To my total dismay he produced a rock, with sharp angles on it, somewhere between the size of a golf ball and tennis ball from his pocket and hurled it at one of the lions. In that moment I wasn't sure whether to be more disgusted by the fact that he did it or the men standing within two feet of him (and clearly knowing what he was about to do) not stopping him from throwing it. It took me the couple of seconds of what I just saw as the rock sailed to (and missed) it's target before it registered with me that he'd actually done what I just saw.
I was really dismayed. By the time I could walk over the two men were making it clear he needed to leave. I then realized that they were doing the same thing I'd done; confirming what was happening before they did something that could escalate things. The three of us began to escort him out of the exhibit area when the zoo security showed up. Once I understood the situation was under control I walked back to collect my gear and by the time I turned around there had been a new development. Before I turned around, zoo security was escorting "sweatpant douchebag" and "douchebag tag-a-long" down a hill. After I turned around "sweatpant douchebag" had taken off leaving his younger douchebag sibling with the authorities. The guy just bolted; leaving his 11-12 year old brother there to deal with security. Wow. Maybe an hour later, walking through the zoo, we saw security driving the younger brother to the main office and the poor kid was bawling.
I don't mean to sound selfish but that's my memory from what would have, otherwise, been a really nice day at the National Zoo. Fortunately, the lions weren't hurt and nothing came of it (other than the lions can't completely trust their habitat from jackasses) for the lions. I astound myself that I still believe, despite the evidence sometimes, the world isn't a giant blue'ish bag of assholes hurtling through space.
On a brighter note, I did manage to get a couple of shots of the lions looking more than disinterested along with a couple of other photos I'm not afraid to share. I'll post these over the next couple of weeks. For now... DC Duck
Keywords: amozonia, asshole, dc, etiquette, lions, national zoo, public etiquette, smithsonian, smithsonian national zoo, washington, washington dc, zoo
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