The Little ZooTue, January 10, 2006 - 10:11 PM
The Little Zoo, otherwise known as Underground Reptile, is located in a dark corner of a non-descript strip mall containing your average local necessities. There is a dry cleaner, a Subway restaurant, a travel agent specializing in tours of the Holy Land, a nail salon and an emergency pet clinic. If you weren’t aware the store was there, you would drive right past it never knowing the bounty of exotic creatures that are held captive within its walls.
The horrific experience begins even before stepping foot within the store. Reaching for the door handle brings with it the smell of ammonia and the disinfectant used to clean the ammonia. The smell strikes your senses like a slap across the face from an angry lover. Eyes water, nose runs, and you may even gasp, wondering how the enthusiastic young men who run the store can work with that odor day after day. The young men don’t seem to mind as they rush around filling the orders of their patrons and caring for their cold-blooded guests.
The challenge of continuing through those doors could be a bit from the television series Fear Factor but this task must be accomplished because the investment needs to eat.
Strangely, Brooke squeals with delight as we approach the store. She, like the young men employed within, doesn’t seem to mind the horrible smell. The excitement of experiencing the enclosed fauna outweighs any trepidation she might harbor. Upon entering, Brooke inevitably turns to her left to greet the spider wall. This wall holds about fifty small plastic jars, stacked one upon the other, containing every kind of arachnid on God’s good earth. Her mother and I try to rush her past these prisoners in plastic jars by attempting to distract the child with “Brooke, look at the chinchilla’s.” The child is not fooled. As Brooke is not my child, I can escape my friend’s fate of having to look at all those spiders. I abandon them and continue to the counter to place my order.
As instructed by the owner on my first visit, I say “One medium rat, dead” to whichever enthusiastic young man is standing behind the counter. Then in a charming Seattle Fish Market style, the young man yells to the guys in the back, “ONE MEDUIM RAT, DEAD!” It’s quite the show.
Once my order is placed, I try to take my mind off the fact that I just order the death of an innocent creature to feed the investment by wandering around the menagerie. By this time Brooke has allowed her mother to move away from the spiders and I join them in front of a glass enclosure containing the two largest pythons in the universe. Brooke is nose to nose with the creatures and I can only imagine that if those snakes could think, they would think, what a meal that two year old would make.
Looking down and to my right is a small pit containing alligators living with box turtles. And yes, the alligators have been know to eat a turtle or two. I pity those turtles. Brooke isn’t allowed to look on that scene. After all, there are limits to the stress her mother can take.
Leaving the turtles to their fate, behind us are the cute animals. Chinchillas, flying squirrels and hedgehogs are contained in pens at eye level with Brooke. Of course, she is not at all interested in looking at animals with fur, she has cats at home. And besides, the strangest of all Underground Reptile’s guests is lumbering towards us, a huge tortoise freely roaming throughout the store. Keeping the shop’s theme of horrific fully in tact, as the tortoise moved about the store, it let a squirt of urine go with each step. This vision was followed by yet another enthusiastic young man clutching a rag to clean up after the beast. Can you see what’s coming? Let’s review, we have a two year old, one giant peeing tortoise and the man, with cloth, not quite fast enough. It wasn’t pretty but, on an up note, Brooke got a pair of pretty new shoes.
Mercifully, the rat I requested fulfilled its karma and is ready to serve its purpose.
As I pay for the rat, the piercing screams of anger and frustration start to flow from the flaying Brooke as we attempt to leave. I’m sure she’s thinking in her two year old mind “Please Mommy, I beg you, let me frolic in tortoise pee just one more time. Don’t you understand I love it so”! But alas, it cannot be and we leave the Little Zoo for home and the investment, with a quick detour through Payless Shoe Source.
The Little Zoo by Patricia Stansell
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hahaI've been there several times yet you managed to not only paint the picture for us but made me laugh outloud!
The Little Zoo commentThis is my first draft for an essay class I'm taking on creative writing. The assignment is to write a descriptive essay. I'll let you all know what the professor thinks of it.
good writting!Hi: I enjoyed your writting, love the detailed descriptions , and the use of imagery!
|I went to a reptile store like this in Sacramento..it was really smelly. It scared my son he almost had to force me to leave. have fun :P|