Thursday, February 16, 2006

Pretend Zoologist Journal Entry #1

I have been a zoologist at the San Diego Zoo for two and a half years. I began cleaning cages in the marsupial exhibit while still in undergrad, and only recently began caring full time for Mei Mei, a year old female koala.

People see me in my khaki shorts and matching shirt and assume that they are better than me. They think that playing with cuddly-looking animals is a dream job for any girl, and that anyone who knows how to snuggle could get hired. They don't realize that I had to go to school for eight years and then undergo exhaustive testing. No one can seem to grasp the idea that wearing shorts doesn't rule out the chance that I have a PhD.

Children think that my job is magical and cool. Men do not. I haven't been on a date in three years. My khaki clothing makes me invisible to anyone attractive, and it doesn't even matter because no one single and attractive goes to the San Diego Zoo. It is not a singles hangout. The men who hit on me are overweight or married or overweight and married. The overweight thing doesn't bother me, it's that they approach asking me out as though I would be doing them the greatest favor in the world. I am not sure how they expect me to respect them when they do not respect themselves.

You would think that all of the zoologists would be friendly with each other. I imagined we would all sit around and eat churros and laugh about how the koalas are continually high and how the desert tortoises can't go fifteen minutes without crawling on top of each other. But there's none of that. There's a zoo hierarchy that I never imagined. One guy actually dumped his girlfriend when he got promoted from fishing cats/servals to the big cat exhibit and she did not. The only people who truly get along are the four women who work in the petting zoo. They formed a tight group after realizing that no one else would talk to them, and that there was no need for competition because it was near impossible to be promoted out of the petting zoo. I've tried talking to them, but, come on; it's the petting zoo. We have nothing in common. I don't think you even have to go to school for that.

I don't even know why I became a zoologist. I think my parents recommended it after seeing how well I took care of my stuffed animals, many of which had been purchased at the San Diego Zoo. But it's different. Koalas can be fierce, and they don't like being held like babies. That was a perk I was counting on. Instead, I spend most of my day taking koala temperatures and misting their leaves and explaining to the heavy married men hanging around my exhibit that koalas are not even bears.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish I was a potato.

2:04 PM  
Blogger Leighton said...

I have no idea what you mean by that, and, as you are anonymous, no way of providing help.

4:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know a surprising amount of inside info for only "pretending" to be a zoologist. I think you are lying. I think you really are one.
Its okay, I love koalas too. When I was 13 I decided they were really rad. You know what I am talking about-- they are crazy soft!

8:34 PM  
Blogger Leighton said...

I know it looks suspicious. My grandma buys me a membership to the San Diego Zoo every year, so I go quite a bit. The petting zoo is actually my favorite part, although I am pretty sure they do not get any respect.

8:41 PM  
Anonymous Jenn said...

Leighton, I seriously pee my pants laughing everytime I read your blog. Soooo funny. Who's the potato?

7:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I rarely pee my pants.


10:38 AM  
Blogger Ching said...

I held a koala in Australia once. I know they are not bears, but I didn't know they don't like being cuddled like babies.

4:25 PM  

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