On Wisconsin: Ochsner Park Zoo

“Ochsner Park Zoo” is the second chapter in The Gaytheist Gospel Hour‘s seven part series “On Wisconsin.”  It is dedicated to Amy Winehouse, that guy from “Jackass”, and Laura Norman (RIP just in case).

A little after the mid-way point of our visit, a severe thunderstorm rolled into Devil’s Lake.  Following the storm, the skies took on the look and joie de vivre of a Brillo Pad that’s seen better days.  The wind smacked of sweater weather, sending our plans to spend the day on the beach tumbling down the Ice Age campsite black top like so many bottle rocket duds.  What better way to kick off this day of dashed hopes and depressing weather than a visit to Baraboo’s Ochsner Park Zoo?   “Someone told me it’s all happening in the zoo“, Paul Simon sang long ago.  If by “it” he meant “obesity, malaise, violence, dreams deferred, and a bonus existential sucker punch”, then I, too, do believe it.  I do believe it’s true.  Let us now roll the highlight reel:

  • Only a couple of inches of plexiglass stood between me and a facial shredding of Halliburtonian proportions as dealt by the delightfully white paws of a Canada Lynx named Lovey.  If only all of my experiences with a wildcat called love were so harmless.  Or so…cute.
  • A pair of brown bears—his name is Bugaboo, hers is Berryboo.  They are so well fed, they both merit the married name Blimpyboo.
  • The sign hanging by the tiny habitat housing Ewing the capuchin monkey announces “I’m over 50 years old!”  At first glance, Ewing appeared to have been caught in the recent downpour: the fur on her back and tail slicked down dark, and shiny.  Upon closer inspection, it became horrifyingly clear that she was in fact quite bald on those particular regions.  Let me state for the record that there are few things more ghastly to be found at a kiddie zoo (which is in itself quite ghastly in its own right) than the sight of the bald tail of a geriatric capuchin monkey.  It calls to mind a two-foot-long, twenty-jointed finger of the Grim Reaper, curled in a chilling repose as it waits to beckon you toward the withered puckerhole of no return.
  • The High-Fenced Prison Yard Of The Suicidal Deer.
  • Several concrete troughs.  They were caged behind two layers of chain link, so whatever was lurking in the inch or so of rusty standing water contained therein, had to be pretty dangerous.  I’m thinking it was probably typhoid.
  • Prairie Dog City: What I witnessed at this infestation of addled dirt was nothing short of the Caddyshack sequel that we as a nation have been denied for three decades and counting.  A sequel that eschews the pretense of golf, and gives us what we really want: prairie dogs and nothing but prairie dogs, with a 1000% (yes, that’s one thousand percent) Kenny Loggins soundtrack.  To those who would point out that it was a gopher, not a prairie dog featured in Caddyshack, I have this to say: FUCK YOU.

The zookeeper in Paul Simon’s song was alleged to have a fondness for rum.  It’s never explained why, but Simon is a brilliant songwriter, and I have faith that he mentions it for a reason. Perhaps it can be inferred that as an imprisoner of the patently innocent, he was driven to drink under the dark weight of his conscience.  It’s a plausible theory, but having seen my own alcohol intake increase since my Ochsner visit, I’m willing to bet my last bottle of Mothership Wit that he, too,  saw the abyss staring back at him from the wrinkles of an ancient cappuchin monkey’s asshole.

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3 Responses to “On Wisconsin: Ochsner Park Zoo”

  1. Leslie Shinsato Says:

    Great photos! I went to a zoo, I believe, twice in my life. One good thing: I swear the smell of the poop cleared up a grinding sinus infection headache. Later, when I went to the doctor and told him this story, he smiled and said his grandmother would always send those in her brood to the horse stalls as a cure for their headaches. Love your writing!

  2. anne Says:

    Geriatric capuchin monkey–I have Pete’s new band name!

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