Recently our zoo in Bristol ran a series of successful TV advertisements inviting visitors to see their extensive range of dinosaurs. I'm not sure how the other more authentic animals got on with them, or even how long they survived, but the advertisement advised us to visit NOW before the dinosaurs became extinct. I thought that this was a very clever piece of marketing which I found amusing, since it appealed greatly to my rather over-developed sense of humour. However, I passed on the invitation, preferring to visit later when a swarm of taxidermists had time to stuff them all, rendering them harmless.
This all brought back lots of memories for me - not of the dinosaurs because I am not that old I hasten to add, but memories of the zoo itself with it's large collection of animals and beautiful grounds.
We are most fortunate in Bristol to have such an impressive zoo. Although I have not visited for a number of years when I was younger I did enjoy many a warm summer's day there. When I was but a small boy some inspirational stroke of genius possessed me to buy my mother a small wooden model of a hippopotamus. She was not at all impressed when I handed it to her when I returned home, as you may imagine, wondering why I had chosen that particular ugly and vastly obese creature when there were lots of far more feminine and attractive wooden animals from which to choose. I rather think she wondered whether there was some hidden message I was attempting to convey to her. Needless to say the creature never appeared on display since it was unworthy of a place alongside her other more flattering and appealing ornaments.
On another occasional my sister, Maggie, and our cousin Sylvia had high drama in the bird house with a large red and yellow parrot. It took one look at the bracelet Sylvia' was wearing, belonging to her mother and supposedly in her safe custody whilst on holiday with us. It swooped from it's perch like grease lightening, taking us all by surprise, and grabbed the bracelet proceeding to roll it into a small silver ball and fighting us violently when we tried to get it back whilst shouting at it to let it go. In reply it just imitated us in a high screech, "Let it go! Let it go!" and clawed at us until we had to give up. We were horror struck, particularly Sylvia, who wondered what she would say to her mother about the strange demise of her cherished bracelet. Of course I did not help matters because even in my youth my keen sense of humour prompted me to send Sylvia, now at home in Nottingham, a photograph of the parrot calling it TELECARB RETAE which spelled backwards read BRACELET EATER. I was rather proud of this title since I thought it quite plausible as a Latin name for that species of parrot and to me this name looked entirely authentic. I do not think her mother ever cracked the code, but Sylvia did and we enjoyed the joke for many years and I continue to smile about it sometimes even to this day. What Sylvia said to her mother about the missing bracelet remains unknown.
Well these memories exercised my chuckle muscle and actually I was inspired to write them up when I read about an article appearing in The London Times, featuring Bristol Zoo and a missing car park attendant. No I do not think he was eaten by a dinosaur or even a lion - he just vanished.
Here is the article in full:
From The London Times:
Outside the Bristol Zoo, in England, there is a parking lot for 150 cars and 8 coaches, or buses.
It was manned by a very pleasant attendant with a ticket machine charging cars 1 pound (about $1.40) and coaches 5 (about $7).
This parking attendant worked there solid for all of 25 years. Then, one day, he just didn't turn up for work.
"Oh well", said Bristol Zoo Management - "we'd better phone up the City Council and get them to send a new parking attendant..."
"Err ... no", said the Council, "that parking lot is your responsibility."
"Err ... no", said Bristol Zoo Management, "the attendant was employed by the City Council, wasn't he?"
"Err ... NO!" insisted the Council.
Sitting in his villa somewhere on the coast of Spain, is a bloke who had been taking the parking lot fees, estimated at 400 pounds (about $560) per day at Bristol Zoo for the last 25 years. Assuming 7 days a week, this amounts to just over 3.6 million pounds ($7 million).
And no one even knows his name.