so, it's been about 5 years since I've been to the Detroit zoo. to assume I'm a card carrying PETA activist wouldn't be accurate, but you shouldn't chalk it up to blatant laziness either.
I was one of the concerned humans that helped force the zoo to relocate the poor equatorial-climate-Asian elephants that were living in Detroit's colder-than-a-witch's-teat "elephant yard." I use the word yard loosely...also, the word living.
no, I've discovered there is another option to trekking down to 9 mile to watch sleepy "wildlife" muddle through their monotonous habitat or worse yet, sling poo at naive observers. yep, somewhere between the South African Kruger wildlife reserve's 2 million hectares and Petco's 1 cubic foot adopt-a-cat crate, lies a happy medium: Meijer--the superstore.
my discovery of Meijer's unofficial zoo "bonus" occurred to me a few months ago. let's start with the obvious--goldfish. my Meijer sells all the guppy and goldfish varieties your little heart pines for, but my Meijer has something that I'm pretty sure your grocery store doesn't have--the fish guy. this associate lets my pre-schooler throw a pinch of food in the tank, corner a fish with the net and let him touch the "ones that like to float on the top!" my son politely declines--by shaking his head vigorously and hiding his hands in his pockets.
after that macabre stop, we usually wander over to the next spectacle on the Meijer wildlife tour--lobster tank. Meijer's maniacally laughing fish monger/butcher shuffles over to the lobster tank at our approach, snatches the lobster rake and shouts out, "choose your victim!" once again, my son is cajoled/coerced into touching the rubberbanded crustacean, while it impotently thrashes its threatening intentions. again, horrified human declines.
my little animal lover becomes confused (possibly scarred for life?) when hairy, Armenian guy offers to let him "pet" his furry panther tattoo on his forearm. and I know I've been scarred when I had to reach to the back of the shelf for a Meijer 8 pack of hot dog buns only to have one of Meijer's wildlife scurry across my hand. imagine my embarrassment when I realized that screaming "a mouse ran across my hand!" followed up with a fit of shivers/convulsions wasn't the correct petting zoo response.
Meijer--doing its part in the fight for wildlife conservation.