I received requests to post about my many many behind the scenes zoo secrets. I'm not quite ready for my grand tell-all yet, but I thought I might drop a few mini posts here and there if there's interest. (And not that you would, but let's not with the mainpaging, I actually quite like my job.)
When I give tours there is one question I get asked at every, single exhibit: what's his name? It's a surprisingly political question. I mean, not the species name, we have no control over whichever genius came up with "it eats ants, let's call it.....ANTEATER!" I mean the actual names of the individual animals (our anteater is named Pablo, he likes to paint). Charismatic macrofauna (translation: popular likeable big animals) get names that are Deep and Symbolic and Meaningful and Good For Press Releases. Frogs get named whatever inventory number frog they are. Don't feel bad, RNF78994, you're still looking fly to me! Many of the animals have behind the scenes names that come from their actual caregivers, not the pr machine. We had a panda that was privately called Buttersticks*. But the animal that inspired today's post is an emu named Darwin. He's who I think of whenever I see this ostrich gif:
When I have a tour group that seems bigoted I lead them to Darwin, because he never discriminates. Darwin lives in what I call the b-list exhibit, it's wallabees and emus. (Ostriches and kangeroos are the a-listers here.) Darwin doesn't care. Darwin loves wallabees. Oh, yes. He fucking loves wallabees. Darwin loves wallabees so hard. He will sometimes try to love a wallabee right in front of you. And he loves zookeepers. Once I saw Darwin love a bush.
We call him Darwin because he is bad at evolution.