At the Zoo!

April 6, 2014

I thought about the creationism/evolution battle on Friday because I went to the zoo. The San Diego Zoo. The ZOO!

We’re living in what seem like the death throes of a debate over how long we’ve been around, who placed us here on this third rock from the Sun, whether the word of the Lord explains all or nothing, etc. We can’t turn around without hearing about the debate between Bill Nye (The Science Guy) and Ken Ham, founder of the Creation Museum. Or the hollering because Neil deGrasse Tyson did not include creationism—it was creation science for a while, but the science thing seems to be “left behind”—in his Cosmos series. Or about textbooks that must not favor the theory of evolution over the creation story.

Some perspective helps. In 1927 former three-time Democratic Party Presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan represented the State of Tennessee in Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes. Clarence Darrow represented Mr. Scopes, who may have violated Tennessee law by teaching evolution. (Not sure if he actually taught evolution, Mr. Scopes incriminated himself, for if he hadn’t, there might not have been a trial.) The jury found for the state, but a problem with the sentencing resulted in a successful appeal. (Inherit the Wind by Arthur Miller provides an excellent fictionalized account of the affair.)

The battle over creation v. evolution has been fought for many, many decades. The present intensity may be a media thing, or something else about our society that I don’t yet fully understand.

Back to the zoo. I hadn’t been to the zoo in about 15 years, and it’s always been a favorite spot. And it still is!

I took lots of pictures. The flamingos are orange-pink and statuesque. No. 2 is seemingly not a joiner.


Flying birds are bright and beautiful. (I didn’t catch their names.) The Secretarybird (Sagittarius serpentarius), not so much.

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Plenty of other animals, too. The funkiest looking camel, plus a regular one. Only one elephant. And a bear. (Unfortunately, my camera and its operator do not do justice to the subjects, and you’re seeing only the best pictures.)

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I believe I did mention creationism/evolution. Which leads me to the gorilla (Gorilla). We caught the crew of three primates at about 1:00 p.m. on a lovely Friday afternoon. Here’s my main guy.


Before I caught this photo, there was lots and lots of pacing, with sitting and pondering in between. And a decent amount of looking up. Then it happened. Cabbage aka lunch arrived from above. (I thought about corned beef on rye with cole slaw, minus the meat, bread, and dressing. Not that much different from what I wanted to be eating!)

The gorillas ate for a while. We watched. The fellow in the photo, as he picked up each piece of cabbage, rubbed it against his fur. No dirty cabbage for him!

Here are a few more pics:


Now, I’m no scientist for sure. But I watched these gorillas for about 20-25 minutes. Say what you will, I left the habitat as sure as I can be that we’re kin, me and these gorillas. They’re way too human in their mannerisms and behaviors to not be connected to use!

We left the zoo after a few hours. Lots of fun. On the bus back to downtown—too little energy to walk back—I overheard a delightful exchange that touched on evolution. Two four-year-old girls, with their moms, sat behind us. One offered, apropos of nothing, that she “came out of her mommy’s tummy.” She asked the other girl if she had the same experience. Response? “I think so.”

Like the little girl I left the zoo with plenty to think about. And, although my thoughts focus not on where we come from—I think it’s a settled issue—I do think plenty about why people have such a strong need to believe in the notion that a higher being created us, in the literal way that is as fantastic as any story told in any children’s fantasy book. More later.

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