Tim Key: 'If you don't have to tranquilise an animal to get it into your zoo it shouldn't come in'

Share
Related Topics

My big brother invited me to the zoo this week so I'd have something to put in my column for The Independent. That, and also to help him look after his children. I've got two nieces and a nephew or two nephews and a niece, and I've read enough newspaper articles and Roald Dahl books over the years to know that these people need to be protected when they are near things like hippos and toucans. The last thing I want to do is make up some excuse about having to wallpaper my toilet and then later learn that my niece was pecked by a flamingo because I wasn't there.

It also seemed like a good opportunity for me as a columnist. Get this right, gush about this zoo, give them some free publicity, write some crap about how good this zoo is in my column in The Independent, and soon other establishments will start sniffing about offering me free passage. Next thing I know, some faceless sod from Thorpe Park's emailing to say I can go on their Waltzer for free if I say they're as good as Alton Towers.

I love a zoo, and my pre-zoo nerves were going bananas. I sat on the train punching my fist into my palm and roaring at the prospect. I was so excited. At one point I was quiet for a bit because I'd got used to the idea that I was going to the zoo. Then I remembered the tigers and the polar bears and I punched myself in the nose as hard as I could. Blood everywhere! Off to the zoo!

When I arrived at the zoo I discovered it was a children's zoo.

I love my brother. He's smart, fiercely loyal, he's done an Ironman, he's fun and he once lent me a grand. But, honestly, if you invite someone to a zoo and that zoo is a children's zoo and not an actual zoo then you have to declare it. Don't you? I mean, I'm not being unreasonable here, am I? That information's got to be in the initial text, hasn't it? Come on.

I paid my £8.50 to get into the children's zoo and was struck by that unmistakable feeling of not being in an actual zoo. The suspicious quiet of it all. No roaring. No snapping or screaming. Barely any hissing. Just the gentle warble of kids asking where the elephants and lions were and parents patiently explaining how life is a series of letdowns and googling London Zoo's website and showing their offspring the prices.

I found my nieces and nephew or nephews and niece and set about protecting them. Not that they even needed protecting. I mean, I held Eliza's hand for a bit, lest she got "nudged by a turtle" and at one point I told Edward to stand a bit further away from a butterfly but it was clear these kids would have survived with no uncles there at all. Most things were smaller than a little girl or else it was all dopey donkeys and other farmy horseshit. Nothing juicy. As a rule, I think if you don't have to tranquilise an animal to get it into your zoo, then it shouldn't come in. Otherwise you end up with things like mice and pigs, and me saying things like "Isn't it ugly" and "No there aren't any giraffes" to my niece.

Children are incredibly resilient beasts of course. And in spite of not seeing a single tusk, pouch or trunk they remained upbeat. In fact, a lot of adults seemed happy enough, too. It was really only me who knocked over a young member of the zoo's team, and stood with my boot on their neck yelling "This won't do!!!" and, after seeing the meerkats and getting an ice-cream, even I started to soften. But there's a limit to how soft you can go when you haven't seen a gorilla all day.

If I've got a problem with someone I'll tell them and I pinned my brother up against a postcard carousel in the giftshop and reiterated to him that his text was misleading, but looking back on it I now don't think that was fair. I see now that there's room for lots of different types of zoos for different ages, budgets and perversions. Just as there's room for theme parks of varying quality. I want free tickets to Thorpe Park.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Graduate Media Assistant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an ambitious and adaptable...

Guru Careers: Solutions Consultant

£30 - 40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Solutions Consultan...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Guru Careers: Software Engineer / Software Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Election catch-up: Blairites for and against a Miliband victory

John Rentoul
Nicola Sturgeon could have considerable influence over David Cameron in a hung parliament  

General Election 2015: What if Cameron were to end up in debt to the SNP?

Steve Richards
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before