It’s all happenin’ at the zoo

by Nathan Stout

I do believe it.
I do believe its true.

Sorry my mind got stuck on that song. Sunday me, my wife, brother, and niece went to the Fort Worth Zoo… or as I like to now call it… ‘Throw Us Your Change At Every Chance’.
Do you remember going to the Fort Worth Zoo long ago? I do. It is a very different place now.
I looked and looked and couldn’t find any kind of ‘retro’ zoo page on the Internet. I think it would be awesome though.

Do you remember the small amusement ride section that used to be at the zoo? It had that Monster Mouse roller coaster, Himalaya, Tiltawhirl. Oh the memories.
The Fort Worth Zoo was built in 1909 and has expanded ever since. It was run by the city of Fort Worth until 1991 when the city turned over the management to the Fort Worth Zoological Association. The private organization did some MAJOR renovation and continues to this day to do so. You will remember that the zoo became better back then but it also became very expensive back then.

When I was a child it cost seventy five cents to get in. It’s fourteen dollars now-a-days. Not only that but the price of food and drink is super high. Quite a bit like Six Flags infact. I really appreciate the great change that has come over the zoo but if they start charging for using the toilets I am gonna get bent out of shape. Sure, I know I charge people to use the toilets in Roller coaster Tycoon, but that’s my park. It’s only ten cents to use it as well… come on!
Anyway the other thing you will notice is that the zoo is littered with opportunity upon opportunity to give away your change. A large part of the funds for running that place comes from private donations and there are places for you to help donate scattered throughout the park.

I love the zoo. I tried to get several jobs there. I have applied for a security guard position, a audio/visual tech position, and system administrator position as well. I got the security position but the pay was six dollars and something and you simply can’t live on that so I turned it down. I have loved the zoo since I was a kid and spent hours at the aquarium and herpetarium exhibits but could never make a living wage there.

My brother and I are big on nostalgia and when we visit places like the zoo or Six Flags we will point out ‘the old stuff’ to each other. The zoo is full of old stuff that is still there. Alot of the old animal enclosures along the hillside are ‘original’ and there are a ton of old visitor walkways still visible (but unused) that criss-cross the place. The removal of the aquarium and the herpetarium were two big blows to us ‘old timers’. Those were essential parts of our childhood and like so much of the rest of that urban zoo it is gone and in it’s place is more ways to make money with sugary sodas and foam crocodiles on a sticks.

The ‘new’ zoo has it’s issues as well. What was new in 1991 is now becoming old. After the tear down of the old herpetarium the new MOLA (museum of living arts) was built. It is basically an updated herpetarium. It makes the older ‘new’ exibits look outdated (like the ape house). We visited the Texas Wild! weather theater show and I was VERY disappointed at this ‘new’ exhibit. The show is an automated theater that has some characters talk about the Texas environment such as the interaction of native animals and the wild weather. The whole gimmick is a thunderstorm that blows in featuring real rain and real hail. The theater gets somewhat dark, wind starts blowing, there is lightning sounds and effects then it starts raining up at the front of the ‘stage’ then hail starts raining down (at the front of the stage). If you are sitting in the front row you will get a little wet and might get a tiny hail or two. This is how it worked about three years back. When we went Sunday I noticed the wind didn’t blow much at all, the light was still full (ruining the whole storm feel) and the they replaced the hail with small whiffle balls! What a cheese out! So even the ‘new’ stuff is getting dated and worn out.

Just because I am bitching about the zoo doesn’t mean I don’t still love it. I do. I suggest going there instead of the new Museum of Science and History which is getting bad reviews. It is a massive place full of neat stuff and if you pay attention you will see some of that old stuff too.

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