Justine and I went to the Bronx Zoo yesterday. As you may know, Leviathan has tons of animals in it, so I was up for some face-to-face contact. This kind of research is important, because reading about an animal doesn’t tell you how it moves, how it smells, or how it reacts to a sudden shrieking noise that I call “El Banshee.” It just ain’t the same.
We were shown around by an old friend of mine, a wildlife conservator who has an office at the zoo, but usually works in places like Afghanistan, Iran, and Tibet. He and his wife once drove a baby snow leopard across Pakistan, which sounds exciting, because, like, the Taliban is there. He does a lot of dangerous stuff like that. When my friend and I worked together in publishing, the whole office voted him “Most Likely to Die in a Foreign Land.”
But he’s survived long enough for us to get an excellent tour of the zoo.
There were lemurs, who are always totally chill.
And we got to watch a “tiger enrichment session” from really close up.
The tiger is doing tricks because it wants a “bloodsicle.” Here’s what I think: if anything at your job wants a “bloodsicle,” your job is more dangerous than mine.
We also wanted to see meerkats, but sadly there are none left at the zoo. So (as twittered yesterday) my pal took us back to his office where he has a meerkat skull.
No, I don’t think this skull from a meerkat that used to be at the zoo. My friend has always owned stuff like meerkat skulls. It is from him that I learned the term “maggoting room.” I use it often.
As we were leaving, I realized it had been more than a decade since I’d been up to the Bronx Zoo, and years since I’d been to any zoo at all, and that sucks. You can’t expect to understand your own planet if you don’t occasionally check out the other 99.9% of species that live here. And you can’t really be much of a writer if you don’t understand your planet.
There’s only so much that can happen in coffee shops. Eventually you should get your characters out of talking about lattes and into the land of bloodiscles.
So as you guys get older and more stuck in your ways like me, try to remember these deceptively simple words:
Don’t forget to go to the zoo.
As it’s Friday, let me remind you that I haz a Twitter.