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I'm not easily confused, but a lot of things confuse me. Physics. The homeless. Right and left. There's a number of them. Today my confusion was provided by the Houston Zoo.
The Houston Zoo apparently attracts record numbers of guests. I'm not sure why. I can't think of many things less appealing than wandering around in the Houston heat looking at animals that are so obviously out of their natural habitat that it would be comical if it weren't kind of, somehow wrong. I don't know what the big attraction is. Do they have a panda? That might explain it, because for some reason, Americans LOVE the panda. (I'd guess it's because of the eyes, but raccoons have that same feature and, to my knowledge, Americans are not in love with the raccoon. But a panda? Americans will wait in lines longer than those to get an iPhone just so they can see the damn panda.) But I think that Houston is panda-free, which is one reason why I'm confused.
So the zoo is looking for ways to attract more low-income families. NO. Not for exhibits. As visitors to the zoo. They came up with the idea that families that receive food stamps will be able to have unlimited free admission to the zoo for themselves and up to eight guests. According to the president and CEO of the zoo, a one Deborah Cannon, "We're always trying to expand access." Why? I don't know either, but they're intent on it. Since 2002, the zoo has had five days a year where admission was free and boy, did the Houstonians (?) love that. Between 50,000 and 80,000 people went to the damn zoo on the days when it was free. Between FIFTY and EIGHTY THOUSAND people? Went to the ZOO? My confusion continues to grow at this point. Those figures are mind boggling.
The problem they had with that many people, according to the zoo director, Rick Barongi, is that "It can be stressful, just too many people." Oh, do you think? He also noted that on Memorial Day this year, one of the free days, "the police were needed to control angry crowds at the zoo gate an hour before closing." WHAT?! What were they angry about?! That the wonderful, fabulous, FREE zoo was closing?! And that was enough for a mob mentality to set in to the point where the authorities were called? Were they hoping for a late night stroll through the Reptile House? Midnight Monkey Madness? What did they want?
But even with the crowd and the attracting more people and all, the zoo was disappointed that less than nine percent of their free visitors were from low income areas. The rest? That's right. Regular people just wanted a free peek at the animals. (Although, some of them could have been just like me and been completely bewildered as to what in the world all of the fuss was at the zoo and so they had to check it out for themselves.) So the zoo was getting more people, but they weren't the right kind of people. And that's why it's free for people on food stamps now! Are you with me? No? Good! That makes ALL of us! WTF??
They wanted to make sure that those who can't afford to go to the zoo are not limited by just those 5 days. So, by expanding the number of days that the zoo is free (for those on food stamps) from five days to ALL days, that gives those on food stamps the freedom to come to the zoo whenever they want to. And they will continue to have the five free days for everyone. You know, just so those who can afford to go to the zoo don't get pissed off. And I guess that sounds fine, but, um, if they're on food stamps shouldn't they be working or looking for a job instead of going to the zoo? I'm just asking! Remember? I'm confused!
But here's the part that almost made my head explode. According to the article by the fine folks down there at the Houston Chronicle, "To make matters worse, animals were getting sick after the summer free days because too many people were throwing cotton candy and other items into their pens. To alleviate the problem, none of the five free days will be scheduled for the summer." Wait. What?
Ah, yes, you have to take the good with the bad, I suppose. Along with the freedoms and the joys of summertime you must also deal with how those summer days cause people to become unable to stop themselves from throwing cotton candy and other items into animals pens! They're just out of control and no one, NO ONE, not even the 50,000 to 80,000 zoo visitors themselves, can stop this summertime phenomenon from occurring at the zoo, right? NO!!
Are you KIDDING ME?!!? How are the two related? Oh, oh, that's right! THEY'RE NOT!! I suppose I should ask if there are any strange wintertime phenomena that occur at the zoo that I should be aware of? Are the visiting patrons in January stripping off their winter garb (in Houston, that's a T-shirt instead of a tank top) and riding the giraffes bareback, completely unable to stop themselves from doing so? Or do they have that season completely under control? This is the most confusing and complicated zoo EVER.
See what I mean? You have a panda-less zoo in Houston that attracts between 50,000 and 80,000 visitors on days when the zoo is free. But the zoo wants visitors who are on food stamps to visit the zoo, so they're making every day a free zoo day for those folks. And none of the five days that are free for everyone will be during the summer because it's the summer that causes people to throw cotton candy at the animals. How's your head? Pounding? Ready to explode? Welcome to my world.