The Dark Side of the Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is known as one of the city’s biggest and best attractions, and enjoyed year round by tourists and residents alike. You can go hundreds of times and never see the same thing twice. After countless trips to the zoo, I began to notice a trend. Every time I go, I see several people wearing Pink Floyd tee shirts.
You know when you learn a new word and then start seeing it everywhere? It was kind of like that, but I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen anyone wearing a Pink Floyd shirt outside of the zoo, and it got me thinking.  Maybe there is some sort of cosmic connection between the San Diego Zoo and Pink Floyd.

It then dawned on me that Pink Floyd has an album entitled Animals.  It appears there’s a sub-culture of zoo visitors who, inspired by the music of Pink Floyd, are making a subconscious effort to get in touch with their primal, instinctual selves, and to seek out the company of animals.

So here is my theory of the correlation between the San Diego Zoo and the music of Pink Floyd, packaged as a review of my favorite place to let loose amongst cages.  So throw on some comfy shoes and a fanny pack full of munchies as I invite you to experience:

The Dark Side of the Zoo

Speak to Me/Breathe

You will immediately be surrounded by a cornucopia of sounds and smells. Your first breath once inside the zoo might be a little funky. It is the waft of 400 stinky pink flamingos which greets you at the gate.  Hear the softly spoken magic spell.

Time and Money

Yes, it will cost you.  Be prepared to spend a full day’s pay and a full day’s walk around the zoo. Buy a zoo membership. It’s worth it, as you “fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way.”
Once inside the gates, you will begin to notice five distinct categories of people. 

Us and Them

1. The tourists

What they lack in survival gear, they make up for in photo equipment, selfie sticks, and dorky clothes. They can usually be found crowding around an exhibit and speaking in tongues, or posing for selfies in potentially deadly environments.  Don’t make direct eye contact, or they will ask you to take their picture. 

2. The zoo staff

Easily recognizable by their safari uniforms and goofy smiles. If you spot one who doesn’t look too busy, ask them something. Anything. They know all kinds of stuff about the fauna and flora, and they truly enjoy sharing facts and figures. 

3. The families

They’ll be toting bags, strollers, water bottles, sunbrellas, gift store paraphernalia, three or four kids and a baby who is too young to appreciate the zoo anyway. You can hear them coming a mile away.  

4. The couple  

Yes, the zoo can also be romantic.  Monkeys with hard-ons and tortoise coitus are the perfect thing to set the mood, be it your first date or fifty-first anniversary. Springtime at the zoo is a particularly erotic time to visit. 

5. Pink Floyd fans

The generation of music lovers who cry out in unison, 

We don’t need no education! 
We don’t need no thought control!

But what we do need is a place where we can commune. Where we can observe and be observed. Where we can learn how to be human. 
The zoo is a perfect blend of colors, sounds, smells and tastes that will drench your five senses. Go there often enough, and your sixth sense might even come out of hibernation.  

Brain Damage

Sometimes it’s hard to see our furry friends living life on display in small cages.  The apes, with their all-too-human expressions and gestures, surely know that they are being held in captivity. The wild cat paces back and forth in her cage day in and day out.  The elephants, bored, confined, and lonely, still retain the collective memory of what it was like to be free. An elephant never forgets.
But in all honesty, they are no more free than we are, trained to follow a routine, to eat, work, reproduce, and then fade away. They are well cared for and fed, and protected from natural predators. And they have an important job to do. They are raising awareness, which will hopefully lead to further conservation efforts.  According to National Geographic, “By the year 2100, human activities such as pollution, land clearing, and overfishing may have driven more than half of the world’s marine and land species to extinction.” The San Diego Zoo might very well be one of the last places you can see a white rhino or a giant panda.  

The lunatic is on the path. 
The lunatic is on the grass.

We are all in this together.    


The San Diego Zoo opened in the early 1920s, spanning one hundred acres across Balboa Park’s pristine landscape. It’s first inhabitants were lions, elephants, and a bear that some Navy guys brought back from Russia.  Today, it is home to more than 4000 animals of 800 different species, not to mention the countless other species of plants, flowers, trees, and people you’ll see.
So go there. Be there. Feel there. Hear there. Put on your Pink Floyd shirt and meet me there.
All that you touch and all that you see 
All that you taste, all you feel 
And all that you love and all that you hate 
All you distrust, all you save 

And all that you eat and everyone you meet 
And all that you slight and everyone you fight 
And all that is now and all that is gone 
And all that’s to come and everything under the sun is in tune 

and the sun is eclipsed by the zoo.

What Say You?