Thursday, July 26, 2012

Creationism in the San Francisco Zoo

I took my youngest to the San Francisco Zoo this morning.  It was so cold, there were no animals out (except the polar bears) for the first hour.  After a while, we saw some amusing things.

There was this peacock totally barking up the wrong tree.
"You're the funniest looking Peahens I've ever seen, but I'm game."
A rug in a box the keepers insisted was an anteater.
Let's be honest, half the animals in the zoo could be dogs in funny outfits.  We'd never know.
Zebras proving they can do something horses never do willingly.
"Horses don't lie down?  Weird."
And then there were the giraffes.
Giraffes turn out to be a danger to young creationists.
My son had been looking forward to the giraffes so, when we saw a couple of volunteers posted at the exhibit to talk about them, we went over.  They showed us bones and skin, explained how giraffe tails are used to swat flies, and pointed out that humans and giraffes have the same number of vertebrae.

"Does that suggest a common ancestry?" I asked, trying out some new buzzwords I bought at a local Target.

"Well," one said, "they think that all mammals-"

"We're not allowed to talk about evolution!" her friend said.

"You're not allowed to talk about evolution?" I said, looking around nervously and hiding my shirt that makes fun of Intelligent Design.  "Why?"

"Some woman yelled at a docent for mentioning evolution.  Somebody defaced a sign."

I mentioned my dismay and we walked off to look at some disturbingly old turtles.

"When I was your age, we didn't have blogs.  We read the newspaper!"
Now, you are allowed to say anything you want without ridicule in this country, as long as it isn't fucking stupid.  Sure, all religion has some stupidity in it, but you can't go around forcing others to keep silent about those stupid parts.

Doctors aren't forbidden to talk about medicine because it would offend Christian Scientists (although, it's hard to know what doctors can say in Texas).  Butchers aren't forbidden to talk about pork because of Muslims and Jews.  Fox News anchors aren't forbidden from talking about politics or religion (although it'd improve their programming).  Why?  Because it's impossible to do their jobs without talking about those things.

Part of a zoo's job is education.  Children go to a zoo to learn about animals: what they eat, how big their poop is, where they live, how they can be protected, and where they came from.  If you can't learn, for example, that a bat is a mammal and not a bird, you've lost a huge chunk of what makes them interesting.  The same is true about Antartica, plate tectonics, and penguins.  The same is true about human and giraffe vertebrae.

I realize this is a blog with few readers, and my purview doesn't include rabble rousing.  However, this rabble really needs to get roused.  Please consider sending an email to the zoo and expressing your horror at their policy (Here's their contact webpage.  I'm emailing media relations.  You might want to try that or education.)  Encourage your friends to do the same.  Link to this post.  Seriously.  Do it.  Please.

Zoos are meant to be a place of knowledge and education.  Let's keep it that way.

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