Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Busch Gardens Facepalm

After our stopover at Discovery Cove last week on a bit of a whim, we decided to forgo our usual follow up visit to Sea World and use our complementary passes to go see the other sister park, Busch Gardens Tampa the following Thursday. My family and I have been going down to Florida for years making a habit of hitting all the major theme parks around Orlando but for various reasons we had never taken the short drive over to Tampa. My wife and I are big fans of the fantastic animal habitats on display at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park and we were looking forward to finally seeing what many people had told us were even better ones at Busch Gardens.

After arriving at the park and getting through the entrance, which for an hour proved problematic not just us but for everyone else as well because of faulty ticket scanners the first habitat we came upon was for the chimpanzees. We entered the viewing section, made up to look like a cave and found a huge window that looked out upon the living area for the resident chimps.

Now I understand opinions differ widely on the morality of keeping our closest primate kinfolk captive so a corporation can make a profit but I think there is a bigger picture that needs to be focused on here. While I understand those who think it is wrong the educational benefits of actually seeing chimpanzees, marine mammals, or any other endangered species in person goes a long way to making them real in the eyes of the average American. In this particular case, Busch Gardens was doing its best to add to the educational effect by having one of the chimpanzee keepers give a lecture about the resident chimps and the chimpanzee species in general.

As someone who has read many of the works of the great primatologist Jane Goodall, I was very interested in what the Busch Gardens keeper had to say. Since one of the chimps was in the open playing in the middle of the living area the keeper was having a hard time getting anyone in the crowd to listen to her.

As she struggled to continued, I could actual see the frustration on her face as she tried to describe the various chimps that live at the park then delve into the species native African habitat and how dangerous their existence can be there. Like a champion, the keeper eventually finished the lecture then invited the crowd to ask questions. Of course, the very first inquiry disproved the idea that there are no stupid questions.

“Could you please tell me why do the monkeys just eat bananas? The thirty-something mom asked while trying to take away the Nintendo her son was playing making him oblivious of his surroundings and what was going on.

I actually felt bad for the Busch Gardens keeper who had clearly stated that the chimpanzees were not monkeys but apes and our closest primate relatives. Like the trooper she was, the resident expert backed up and again explained what the chimps are and that they are omnivores, eating both plants and meat that they hunt for in groups.

On our way back out of the park several hours later, we again stopped by the chimpanzee habitat and caught the tail end of the same lecture. There was a new keeper giving the lecture this time and like the one from the morning, he opened up the floor for anyone in the crowd to ask him questions about the chimpanzees.

Right off the bat the first question shouted out caused the keeper to take several very deep breathes and slowly massage his forehead in tired annoyance.

It was an older guy this time who asked, “Why don’t they have tails like other monkeys?”

I felt so bad for those keepers right then I would have bought each and every one of them a case of beer for their troubles.


Akelamalu said...

Some people JUST DON'T LISTEN do they? :(

Anne said...

Those people probably would be right in their element at the caucuses in Iowa.

Randal Graves said...

Do these apes eat grapes like that one on teevee?

Full-On-Forward said...

AWESOME!@!! I went to Bush Gardens when it was FREE and there was just Jack Hannah and TWO Macaws!!!!! I am so glad you went!

Happy New Year Buddy!


Windsmoke. said...

My answer to the banana question would have been "Because They Can", people really don't listen :-).

Mr. Charleston said...

Glad to hear that the animals at the Gardens are doing well. It's been years since I've been there and I was afraid it had degenerated into another zoo. I'm reminded every day how self-centered and downright ignorant most people are. I try not to dwell on it. It's too depressing.

Pixel Peeper said...

I've been to Busch Gardens just once - I guess I need to go back there and listen to the lecture. I didn't know that chimpanzees are omnivores.

Commander Zaius said...

Akelamalu: No, and it worries me greatly about people in general.

Anne: Yeah, its depressing to think about that aspect.

Randal: I can't remember but just as long as they don't start throwing spears and speaking they can eat cake.

John: Thanks John.

Windsmoke: LOL!!! Of course the worst example of something like this was when a young, obviously well off family seemed astonished to learn orcas were mammals during one Sea World visit.

Mr Charleston: I have to tell myself that I just hit one of those strange times were idiots abounded. But given the republican field of candidates I don't believe myself.

Pixel: Chimps have a nasty side that proves they are our kinfolk.

Red Nomad OZ said...

I think you can safely say that dumb questions are the bane of life as we know it around the world.

Even in the paradisical land downunder, we have tourists asking questions like 'which way do I turn when I leave here to get to where I'm going?' and 'where should I go to have the most fun?' and 'will I enjoy myself here?'

And these are just the ones I've heard recently ...

Marja said...

Oh what a great place I love eeeh apes. In kuala lumpur they jump around freely and they weren't so much fun. One jumped into my hair and refused to let go lol

Glen said...

I love the picture of the monkey.

People don't read either :-)

Happy New Year

Ranch Chimp said...

Never been there Bum, but would loved to have went, I read and seen documentaries on it, and know of the work of Goodall too. Mixed feeling's about chimp's in captivity? You know Bum, as a child when we went to the zoo on a school field trip, my first thought's were, how come we put animal's in cage's? ... though I am not innocent having hunted and killed more animal's in the first half of my life than I can count, but never tortured, enslaved them, mainly hunted them and ate them basically, I had a snake collection once, but left them loose around the house. The man made habitat's/ zoo's have changed drastically since then dayz in the 1960's, but YES ... I feel they (ape's) should have their own enviroment's as well, reserved area's, unless they proven to be our enemy, which they havent. Ape's as you know even have familia value's, emotion's, can be artistic, like to explore, make tool's etc, etc similarities to our species are plenty, my interest in ape's such as gorilla's and chimp's etc was trying to get an idea in todayz time's of how some of our own species lived and acted at a time million's of year's ago. But anywayz ... sound's like a really great time for familia fun too.

Later Bum ....

lime said...

working with an idiotic public has to be so much harder than dealing with intelligent primates.