Zoo Roos and the Featherbrained Parents

If you want to “experience the wild side” visit a zoo…any zoo.

I’m not talking about wild animals.

It’s featherbrained parents and their wild way of raising their next generation that I’m referring to.

Case in point:  Nashville Zoo – family consisting of a mom, dad, two boys (8, 6) and a girl (4) – walk-through kangaroo enclosure – inattentive parenting style that encourages children to experience EVERYTHING hands on.

Hubby and I were in line to enter the kangaroo enclosure.  To enter one must go through two gates.  The first gate opens into a fenced area that is barred by a gate at both ends (to keep kangas from escaping from the enclosure and children from their parents and into the enclosure).

We had entered the first gate and were following a couple with one child as we moved toward the second gate that opened into the kangaroo compound.

Just as we opened the gate to move through it, we heard “WAIT FOR US!” as we felt two small bodies bump against us and then past us.  We assumed they were with the family ahead of us.

As we closed the gate behind us, I looked back and saw a woman and man with a boy slowly making their way toward the second gate.  Apparently the two children who had dashed past us didn’t belong to them.

I turned to look ahead of me as we stepped around the people who had gathered just inside the gate and as I did, I saw the little she devil that had careened into and bounced off of us as she and her brother shot past us.  Blond curls bounced as she turned her head right and left looking at kangaroos. The people I thought she was with gave her no notice.  And, neither did the boy she had entered with.

She spied a kangaroo lying on the ground, in the shade of a tree, just off the path…15 feet from her.  The instructions are – stay on the path at all times and allow the roos to come to you.  Apparently this little girl couldn’t read, or didn’t follow directions.  All she knew was that nothing now stood between her and her beloved kanga or roo.

With arms outstretched to grab and hug, this little bundle of mayhem stepped off the walkway and into harm’s way, heading straight for the nearest kangaroo and beyond my reach.

“Where are her parents?” I wondered. Did she become my responsibility because her parents are absent?

DO unattended children of inattentive parents become the responsibility of others??

Apparently so.  And, of course, as is so often the case, the one who steps in to save the little one from certain harm becomes the bad guy.

Just like the rookeeper did who stepped between the little girl and the kangaroo.

As soon as the rookeeper said “NO! You cannot approach or touch the kangaroo!” the little girl’s parents appeared. (Yep, they were the ones who followed us into the enclosure.)

And, like their daughter, uttered the words “Why not?”

WHY NOT was clearly posted outside the enclosure, within the gated area before entering the enclosure and throughout the enclosed kangaroo area. And, any thinking adult with one eye and half sense could see that these kangas were NOT fuzzy pets or stuffed animals.

I wondered – could these people not read, or were they just total morons?

Or, featherheads as my brother taught his daughter to say of people who acted like they had feathers in their head instead of a brain.

We found out later that they could, indeed, read.  And, so could their boys. The dad read a sign that said “This is how far a kangaroo can jump.  Can you jump that far?” And, the older of the two boys said, “The sign says Do not step off the path and do not touch the well, so why is Mommy looking in the well?”

Good question.  Smart question.  What did Featherhead Dad reply? “Because that’s what Mommy wants to do. Mommy knows these signs don’t apply to her.”

My advice?  Go ahead, Mrs. Featherhead.  One swift kick from a kangaroo will knock some sense in your head. But, just remember – your children are watching and learning.  And, as we’ve already seen, they are following your example. And, your example can get them killed.

And, in the meantime, I’ll call child protective services because YES, Featherhead, if your child is unattended because of your inattention, it’s called neglect in the eyes of the law and it becomes someone else’s responsibility to see that they are cared for and protected.

Kudos to the Rookeeper who did her job and didn’t back down or apologize for doing it.

Parents, corral your kids – be responsible and teach them responsibility by following the rules yourself.  And, if you don’t, be wise – don’t get bent out of shape when someone steps in and acts on their behalf.

Nuff said.

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