The Queen’s Park Petting Farm, near noon on a weekday. It is quiet and damp after a rainfall. Children frolic in the nearby waterpark, the ice cream stand is open, parents stand nearby with towels over their arms.
A lop-eared rabbit hears a noise. “Oh shit. Here they come. HIIIIDDDDDDE.”
The black rabbit, brown rabbit, and grey rabbit obediently cover themselves with hay.
Fifty screaming six year olds enter the petting farm. The gate slams behind them. Three sheep run as best they can for the “Animal Rest Area.”
“GOATS GOATS GOATS!” screams a boy with a bowl haircut.
“GOATS! I LOVE GOATS!” screams another boy.
They run at a goat, who bleats at them and runs to the Animal Rest Area.
“IT WENT IN THERE!” screams the boy.
“LET’S CHASE IT!” screams the other.
They are stymied by the fence. The goat looks on from the far side of the enclosure.
“AVERY! LOOK AT THE BBUUUUUUUUUNNNNIES!” screams a girl.
Five other girls run to the screaming girl, who has her face pressed up against the rabbit cage.
“BUNNIES AWWW BUNNIES AWWWW BUNNIES!” they shriek.
They turn and see the juvenile ducks being taken out of their enclosure by a park worker.
One girl pounds on the window. “Don’t do that!” says the park worker.
The girl stops but the shrieking–OH GOD THE SHRIEKING–continues and the last duckling refuses to go to the exit, instead walking back and forth close to the window, quacking constantly and adding to the cacophony.
The baby chickens in the adjacent enclosure look on nervously.
A group of boys sees the peacock enclosure and moves, like a large, cellular mass, towards it. The boys are making a low roaring noise. The peacock sits up straight.
“SQUAAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWK!” says the peacock. The boys stop short. One of them turns to me, fear-stuttering, “Excuse me exx-exx-exxcuse me, WHAT IS THAT?”
“It’s a peacock,” I say. “I guess it wants you to go away.”
Arlo’s grade one class did a field trip to the petting farm a few weeks ago. He told me they participated in the young farmers program and saw a lot of goats. I had assumed this means you get a briefing on how to interact with animals? Like, for example, don’t yell at them? God, I hope so. I hope my son’s class was not running around yelling at goats. Next year, I promise I will volunteer for all the field trips so at least I will have some authority to yell at idiots not to yell at goats.
“LOOK IT’S POOPING AHAHAHAHAH POOOOOOOOP.”
Look, I know–trust me on this, I know–you can’t stop six year olds talking about poop but could someone at least stop them from piling on the pooping goat and screaming at it? Can you imagine if someone did that to you, you little jerk? Yelled, “YOU’RE POOING IT’S GROSSSSSS!” every time you went to the bathroom?
The kids today were not toddlers, who at least usually have minders nearby to say “don’t chase the chickens” or “don’t eat that, it’s not a Glossette,” but kids older than my own five year old companion, kids who should either know better or if they don’t, have a teacher? or someone? to shut them the hell up? There’s a playground and a giant park where you can yell your brains out and be a jackass. This place is where a bunch of sad animals spend their last summer before they get slaughtered.
Probably. I don’t know. It can’t possibly be the place you take the animals you *like,* so what am I to think.
Heads ringing, Eli and I left the petting farm. Stuck a donation in the donation box, the screams of children and peacocks echoing behind us.
I would like to personally assure you that I have been on all the farm field trips with my kids and no one has yelled at the goats. And Angus went to farm camp and adopted a cow named Tina and he was very, very proud of her.