When my niece was four-and-a-half we took a trip together to the County Zoo. Cheerfully, I looked forward to a day of teaching Claire about the different animals and their habits. I had no idea I was to receive a life long lesson in humility.
Striding through the parking lot on the way to the front entrance, my pig-tailed companion admonished me to “Remember our ten Zoo manners!” I nodded wisely, but truthfully, I had no idea what zoo manners were. Did this mean we had to use napkins with our Popcicles, sit up straight on the park benches, or blow our noses before we go in?
After buying the obligatory sun block, animal t-shirt and pink stuffed flamingo, I bravely bit the bullet and invited her to tell me what her ten zoo manners were. The things I learned from her have stood me in good stead throughout my life.
I have attended many conventions in different states in a variety of capacities, including guest speaker at several. During my tours, I found there are a lot of people who could benefit by a good set of Zoo Manners themselves. Next time you are at a convention make sure you also carry the wisdom of a four-and-a-half-year old sage.
Claire’s Zoo Manners
· Respect the natives and their habitats – Don’t make loud noises or poke fun at them. You are a guest in their habitat. Behave like one, or you won’t be allowed to come back!
· Don’t brag. If you brag, people think you can’t really do things.
· Donate your pennies to good causes. Don’t put them where someone could choke on them.
· Recycle! Don’t make a mess for someone else to clean up.
· Don’t run fast or you might get knocked down by something bigger than you are. Always look where you are going. If you can’t see, slow down!
· Take your turn, and do the best you can. You can’t win by cheating.
· Be polite; people see politeness more than they see bad manners. Always say please and thank you.
· Don’t pinch your nose, dance around and yell “It stinks!”
· Keep your hands to yourself. Don’t get pushy.
· …and my all time favorite… Don’t feed anyone except goats.