You belong in a Zoo


One American River Otter seems to be whispering "sweet nothings" to his or her mate. The otters, residents of the Little Rock Zoo, put on a good show, swimming and cavorting as otters do.

Most of us, yours truly for certain, have had that mild curse tossed in our directions. However pointed, the encouragement could not be more appropriate in this day and time. While the world around us seems to reinvent itself on a daily basis, the critters at the zoo are still tigers, they are still giraffes, and they are still otters and antelopes, you get the drift. Before we venture further, this zoo adventure started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. Click here to see a fine tiger and a 15-pound antelope with a suspicious name and get in on the start of the story.

Affectionate giraffes

Two giraffes at the Little Rock Zoo seem to enjoy each others company. While observing the gentle giants glide-walk around their compound, one thinks of ballet on steroids.

If for no other reason than to put ourselves in the company of creatures unconcerned about memory upgrades, car payments, tanning beds, liposuction, dripping faucets, expired car tags, and pizza coupons, there is great value to a zoo visit. You get an instant reminder that Mother Nature’s forces are running in the background, 24/7/365. And, your visit helps keep the zoo in business, so others and succeeding generations may receive the same gentle reminder.


Ring tailed lemurs at the zoo seem to be turning the tables on zoo visitors. At the Little Rock Zoo, lemurs have their own private island which is viewable from two sides and one end, a good thing, since these little critters like to stay on the move, Or at least that's been my observation.

The value of the reminder, is that it helps us, at least temporarily until mental contamination mutates again, to put things in proper perspective. To see the immensity of an elephant, the elegance of a giraffe, the frightening beauty of a big cat, should, if we allow it to sink in,  give some relief to creeping feelings of self importance and the dreaded woe is me syndrome. Then when the wind shifts, and we get a olfactory reminder that these are fully functioning creatures with which we have a systemic similarity. The zoo educates us in all sensory areas, no senses left behind.

african spotted otters

On the cute scale, these African Spotted Neck Otters are stiff competitors. They are smaller than sea or river otters. This pair seemed to enjoy having an audience. Short legged like Basset Hounds, on land, their gracefulness as swimmers quickly goes to the nether regions in a hand basket. On terra firma, they are hopeless waddlers.

On the other hand, some critters are well, cute, despite my railings on cuteness. Since they are, you might as well enjoy this dessert of genetic appearance. On the flip side of that, remind yourself that they are predators and consume other living things. For those of us who savor raw oysters, or just about anything else that won’t eat us first, that is no big deal.


This Malaysian Siamang is displaying some very human like emotions. Perhaps news of the old 401k tanking just arrived. In reality, not. But the look is surely there.

Bottom line, a trip to the zoo can be therapeutic. For this therapy to work, there are two requirements. First, go to the zoo. Second, let the therapy work. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

This is the 57th edition of Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind which means that five weeks ago, our first anniversary passed sans fanfare and hoopla. Fortunately, we survived this self-imposed ignominy to shoot and write again.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

PS: The Little Rock Zoo, of which we are obviously fans, uses “You belong in a Zoo” as one of their slogans. We could not agree more.

3 Responses

  1. Before I forget, Happy Anniversary to your work here. Interestingly, we started around the same time from several states away … (my first post was Aug 28)

    Great animal pics, especially the tiger on Corndancer.

    In some ways, I see similarity between zoos & blogs. I know this is an odd correlation, but it’s all about how much one allows themselves to jump into the story. Sure zoos provide a chance to see animals what we normally don’t see, put their story is so much more – thus I wonder how many zoo visitors dive into Paul Harvey’s “The rest of the story” (which you have).

    Nature’s structure is an unbelievable creation. It’s all about balance, and keeping balance in something that is always changing … the term I like is Dynamic Equilibrium – an ever-changing balance.

    The deer population story of the Kaibab Plateau is the classic … actually the case from which ecological relationships in population dynamics spawned. Here’s a link to a brief overview for those interested.

    By the way, I can’t help to wonder that eating at the zoo is not the same as your typical general store haunts. Of course one can stop along the way to create a packed lunch!

    Great post Joe!

    • Frank, thanks for the visit and comments. I particularly enjoyed the story about the Kaibab Plateau. Our game and fish commission here watches the states deer herd like a hawk since there are not a lot of predators available which will stalk and take a healthy animal. If the herd gets out of proportion to the what the habitat will support, the hunting season is adjusted to thin the herd. Also, they reintroduced elk in north Arkansas, particularly in Newton County. The herd is so successful, they now have a limited hunting season with permits available by lottery. The zoo is great in LR. The human food there is so-so at its nadir.
      Take care my friend,

  2. […] 18, 2009 was a good day to visit the Little Rock Zoo. It was a spectacular early fall day and the critters were, in the inimitable words of  Lester […]

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