Living Far Side Cartoon

“What are you up to?” the mailman asked me.

“Cleaning as usual. When your roommates are dogs…”

“Living with animals is like that. Have a nice day!”

I return to the zoo that is my living room with junk-mail all of which is for Bear to shred.

When I lived in San Diego I lived, literally, two blocks from the zoo. It was the 80s. San Diego was not as big a city as it is now, and while the zoo was fancy, it was a lot plainer and simpler than it is today — and cheaper. We (my ex and I) always bought season passes. His sons spent part of the summer with us and a season pass took us to the zoo and Wild Animals Park (since renamed…) as often as we wanted to go.

I love animals. I went to the zoo a LOT — at least weekly during the “off” season when the animals had more freedom from observation by tourists. The first year we lived there — and I was desperately homesick for Colorado — I hung around with a Rocky Mountain Goat in the petting zoo and imagined we were having similar feelings. The goat was very tame having been brought in as a very small kid and raised by the zoo staff.

The shows with the trainers and animals were amazing. I saw a cheetah whose best friend was a golden retriever. (You can learn more here. It’s a wonderful testament to dogs) I learned that mountain lions purr. I learned the difference between seals and sea lions. I watched raptors demonstrate their wing-span. I learned about the tragedy of the white rhino. I learned about the California Condor rehabilitation program and how it was going (it is run by the San Diego Zoo). I learned WHY zoos are good things and I ended up subscribing to that philosophy after taking my niece on a truck ride through the San Diego Wild Animal Park to “mingle” with giraffes and rhinos.

But even more interesting was the behavior of the animals when no one was paying attention to them. One early morning, I was strolling down the steep hill where the lions (tigers and bears, oh my!) were then kept. The lions were at the bottom of the hill. I heard them roaring. Really ROARING. I also heard the unmistakable snuffle grunt of a large pig. I know about large pigs because, when I lived in China, they roamed the streets of my village, freely feeding on garbage and scraps. I’d also heard hundreds of them killed for meat. A pig’s life in China was a strange mixture of liberty and death.

What was going on?

I crossed to the other side of the road leading down the hill. I wanted to watch without being part of the scene. If it really WERE a live pig, right?


Snuffle, snuffle, GRUNT!


Snuffle, snuffle, GRUNT!

I got where I could see the lions, male and female, looking through the fence of their enclosure, trying to see around a huge Natal plum hedge, roaring. What were they trying to see?

Then I saw it.

A ground’s keeper, with a shovel, behind a shed, on the other side of the hedge, out of sight of the lions, was using a shovel on the pavement to clean the mud, debris and garbage from a rain gutter.

It sounded JUST LIKE a pig!


8 thoughts on “Living Far Side Cartoon

  1. Garry and I finally realized we can’t breathe because the air is full of tree debris, dust, and animal hair and what is more, it will ALWAYS be filled with it. Sometimes, we dust and we can see the dust hovering in the air, waiting for us to stop so it can settle back down on the same spot. Hopeless.


  2. Every year the Swiss national circus Knie travels around Switzerland with its animals and they they also have a zoo tent while it is here. I have never been, but will go next year. How lucky you were to live so near a zoo, and have such real life experiences with getting to know the animals.

    • I was lucky and I’m very happy to have thought to take advantage of it! 🙂 Zürich has a nice zoo. When I went back in the late 90s they had a North American Exhibit. It was a few bison and some turkeys! It never occurred to me that a zoo in Europe would have a North American exhibit. Duh….

      • I have been to Zürich zoo as I lived in Zürich for two years. Turkeys are something fascinating for us, as we have no wild turkeys, but only in captivitiy.

  3. I wouldn’t have thought of it either, Martha ( NA exhibit that is). What an interesting time. You learned many things as a result of the zoo. I’m sure there is much that goes on behind the scenes that would be quite amusing. Really glad you wrote about it and that you experienced it. A privilege indeed.

  4. I live about 1-1/2 hours from the Zoo (and from the Safari Park). One of my favorite day trips is to drive down in time for lunch, see one or two of the animal groups and wander a bit, and come home.

    • Oh, say “Hi” to everything out there for me. I lived on 5th Ave and Kalmia for a few years, then City Heights, then Descanso. I’m glad to be back in Colorado, but sometimes I miss the light in evening in the winter, the red trails I hiked at Mission Trails, the zoo, the ocean. I’m happy I loved it while I was there. ❤

      • San Diego is a wonderful, active city. I’m fortunate to be able to get there relatively easily — I’m glad you enjoyed it!

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