The Zookeeper’s Confusion

Wife and I took the children to the zoo, joined by my parents and most of my brothers and sisters. All together, we made up a party of nineteen. Not the biggest party the zoo had seen, I’m sure, but large enough for us. We traversed the San Diego Safari Park like a pack of escaped monkeys, jabbering and pointing, with small children hanging from our backs.

We stopped at the gorilla exhibit, naturally breaking into smaller groups. We older few held the babies and viewed the gorillas where we could sit comfortably. The adolescents and other children took control of a vista point by sheer mass.

A zookeeper wandered the crowd, answering questions and pointing out the gorillas by name. He approached our group of children and young adults and informed them of the names of the gorillas they were watching. And one of those gorillas shared the same name as #8.

Upon hearing that information, my siblings turned as one and shouted for #8. Like cubs of a wolf pack howling with the adults, my children turned from the exhibit and began shouting for #8 as well.

The zookeeper wore a perplexed expression. “No, he’s not over there,” the zookeeper said, referring to the gorilla. “He is in there.”

Several of my children responded that they knew, and continued to call for their brother with the same name as the gorilla.

The zookeeper appeared more confused than ever.

One of my sisters noticed the zookeeper’s confusion. “Oh, no we aren’t yelling at the gorilla,” she laughed and pointed at #8. “It’s him. He has the same name.”

“Oh,” the zookeeper replied.

#8 scowled at his doppelganger’s back, who had turned and was knuckling his way to the other end of the exhibit.

The zookeeper seemed to decide to leave our herd alone. He strolled through the crowd, keeping his opinions to himself.

Later that day, I learned that a flock of Guinea fowl were called a “confusion.” And as I watched my children, all pointing, poking, and prattling at once, I thought, Yep, that about describes us.

All the animals we saw


2 thoughts on “The Zookeeper’s Confusion

  1. How funny. Reminds me of the story your mom told of when she made a little mistake while serving at Laurence Welk’s Restaurant. She said “Blew it, Hewit.” And the guy asked her how she knew his name. Ha!

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