September 16, 2010 | 12:00 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
I feel like a bad mother. I put my son in harm’s way. I took him to the L.A. Zoo. I know the animals are caged, but what about the bees? Bees at the zoo? Who knew?
According to the warning sign at the entrance of the zoo, there were bees. “Stinging bees.” And for some reason, I decided to purchase tickets anyway. What was I thinking?
Since my son was born we have been members of the L.A. Zoo, allowing us to go as often as we would like, so we did. I am not sure if I am a fan of caged animals taken out of their natural habitat, but we went regardless while I pondered this dilemma. We always had a good time walking around and seeing the animals. He loved it. This year for some reason we did not join the L.A. Zoo, mainly because we had a lot of other things going on and he is no longer at the age that I can just wear him in a sling, walk around, point at the animals, mimick the sounds they make (giraffes - that was a difficult one), take a souvenir photo and come home. Since it had been a while, I decided a visit was long overdue.
We got to the zoo and it was hot, not scorching hot, just hot. I figured with sunscreen, hats and lots of water we would be fine. I didn’t think to wear a hooded bee veil and suit and to dress my son in one either, but probably should have.
We got up to the ticket window. I paid the admission and saw signs that read “Beware of STINGING bees.” I don’t know why I did not take this seriously and ask for a refund then and there. We continued on to the entrance. I asked the attendant about the stinging bees. She said they were only around the trash cans. I explained to my son that we were not going to throw away any trash, but instead bring it all back home with us…thinking this would keep us safe. On our journey into the zoo, we were welcomed by a swarm of bees buzzing around that seemed to follow us throughout the park. I know you are not supposed to, but I was swatting them away from my son. How else was I supposed to protect him from the bees? Oh, right, leave the zoo.
As we made our way toward the animals, signs were posted everywhere that animals were either sick or hiding due to the heat (or was it due to the infestation of bees?). At this point, I figured I would take him to the play area, eat the food we brought and call it a day. As we neared the playground, I saw bees everywhere. Parents were swatting them and grabbing their children, moving from one side of the play area to the other. We were surrounded by bees as well. I decided this was enough. How were we going to make our way out now with all the bees around? They were not just around the trash cans, but also around our packed hummus pita sandwiches. (Did they have a thing against Middle-Easterners?)
I plopped my son into his stroller and literally ran out of the park down the hill. My theory was that if I was faster than the bees, they couldn’t sting us. (The heat was really getting to me, as you can tell.) We made it out of the zoo after we had spent maybe a half-hour there altogether. A half-hour too long. In our half-hour struggle, we failed to see any animals except for one meerkat and some flamingos that probably escaped the wrath of the bees. The smell resonating from flamingos must have deterred the bees. Maybe I should have hung out next to them the whole time, or maybe I should have trusted my instincts and not gone in at all. Thankfully, we escaped unscathed and un-stung, but obviously unimpressed.
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