Just had this memory appear on my Facebook news feed and it got me thinking about my life as a zoo wife.
I used to clean a lot, and I mean a lot, to try and tackle the mess that is a zoo keeper and their offspring. I have now mostly given up I have resigned myself that my house will never be a show home, it is lived in and that’s ok, ish. I think it may have been that moment when I found the meal worm behind the sofa cushion that I thought right I need to clean more and proceeded to basically disinfect the house to get rid of any trace of icky children and smelly animals. The following week I found the pupal stage of the meal worm in the sofa…It was then I realised I was fighting a losing battle!
Most people probably think it’s amazing being married to a zoo keeper. The usual reaction to my husbands occupation is, “Wow that’s amazing, that must be awesome!” My usual verbal response goes something like “well, yes it is super amazing” inside I’m saying, “why don’t you try and be married to one and you’ll see!” Don’t get me wrong there are some perks to being a zoo keepers wife, I have never known so much about animals and zoos, in my group of friends and in work etc I am the fountain of knowledge.. My level of knowledge however is not good enough for my 3 & 5 year old boys! I get to visit lots of zoos, which Is great if that is what you like, more on this later. Occasionally I get random animals in my house, so cute, again more on this later!
I get to meet lots of animals most recently I had an encounter with an elephant. Bucket list tick. I also get to see any new animals behind the scenes usually before the public and other such perks. My boys have fed a carrot to a black rhino for example.
However, being married to a zoo curator means being married to a workaholic, his brain is always planning, designing, worrying, plotting! always thinking of the next thing and never stopping. In the same way that I doodle in all my books if I find a piece of paper ling around if it hasn’t been drawn on by a child it will have an animal enclosure idea on it. If he’s not thinking about work he is probably still in work! Long hours come with the job as does being called in at any hour, day or night, for emergencies or meetings. Thankfully they got rid of the idea of him being ‘on call’ every night, therefore completely unable to relax and unwind with the beer. I bet you even now when he is in the bath he is messaging someone or checking out the surplus lists (the zoo curators animal Argos catalogue) being married to a workaholic means even though you know its not true you do feel quite far down their priority list.
Zoo keeping is generally a vocation, a passion, therefore your life revolves around it. My children are completely obsessed with animals. One wants to be a zoo keeper and one wants to be David Attenborough. Right I was going to talk about visiting zoos with a zoo curator, it is just not the same! I have seen many zoos now and even though it means I have seen and met many very endangered species it also means that you spend the day picking apart other peoples enclosures, from the height of fences, the type of fence used, to the amount of branches, boulders colour of paint etc. All his photos are not of the animals, but of the fencing, the theming and enrichment, storing ideas for future use. It is also a shopping experience for him, “I could do that” or “I could do better than that” I can get one of those no problem” ,” I wonder where they source this or that?” you get the idea. And then there is the awkward meetings. He generally has a contact in any zoo we go to that he wants to talk to, usually the reason we have gone there! So he talks about this and that with these other keepers, they may as well be talking Chinese to me, its all over my head. So I try and look interested in something, but there are only so many minutes you can look at an enclosure for. The worst ones are the ones when they meet us for coffee, there is only so long you can nurse a cup of tea! and because I am an introvert I will not join in on the conversation, its just awkward! but then I rarely meet them again! Then there’s the times he is on the phone (loudly) talking shop to the person he is supposed to be meeting or sorting out what animals he is picking up. That is a fun part, collecting animals. Our last trip involved driving through London in a transit with a box of bats and some poisonous lizards. Previously I have picked up, everything form sheep to frogs. The one I will never forget however is very early on in our relationship, we went to visit a local zoo and pick up a snake while we were there. So Tim bagged it up and we got into the van and he promptly plonked the snake in a pillow case on my lap. I, of course, froze not in terror but in shock, I had never even encountered a snake before let alone be anywhere near touching one. He soon moved it and well, I married him didn’t I.
I suppose the other part that people will think is ‘fun’ is the random animals you are bound to have in your house from time to time. when I first met Tim his rented house was full of animals from dandelion the cat, the guinea pigs, rabbits and chinchillas to some lizards, spiders and a toad in the shed. Oh, and a couple of tortoises! While we have been together he has hand reared a couple of lemurs and the most memorable for me was the baby capybara he brought home when I was 38 weeks pregnant with William. Which was lovely and there was some lovely press about it but at the same time…the night feeds, the mess, the smell. I suppose it did prepare us for a newborn. Safe to say once William was born the capybara was passed onto the keepers to look after. Oh my, I forgot about Hector, Hector the eagle owl! he was raised from a day old chick, before we were married, 9 years ago now. That was…gross. I will never get the smell of chopped up mice from my nose, and i have just remembered having to wipe the lemurs bums with wet cotton wool after a feed to get them to poo. Glamorous isn’t it.
Now, we have no pets, not even a fish anymore and that is fine. I have three male Morphews…that is enough for me!
…if you are wondering, while in the bath, he was messaging someone about Turacos (its a bird).
From Lala, with love xx