November 13, 2012


Earlier this month something terrible happened at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.  A little boy, just a toddler, was being held on the railing over the zoo’s painted dog exhibit.  Something awful happened and the little boy ended in the exhibit with 11 high order predators.  He did not survive.

I don’t want to spend any time talking bout fault.  His mother, who made the decision to give her little guy a better view of the dogs, will have to live with the choices she’s made forever.  I don’t want her to google this and have even a second of pain.  She has enough.

But I want to talk to all you about the importance of following rules.

The Princess at the Pittsburgh Zoo with one of their deer.

I’m a rules girl.  I follow them.  To the letter.  To the t.  I believe rules are in place, not so people can be fun sucks, but because they’re the building blocks of organized society.  They keep us safe.  They protect priceless things.  They protect fragile things.

As a mom, I fully understand the desire to give your kids the best.  I want them to have the best views at the zoo.  I want them to have the most fun when we’re out as a family, but sometimes that means telling them no.  Sometimes it means telling them no even when a dozen other children are doing what my girls are asking to do.  It means explaining to them that what they want to do is against the rules designed to keep them and the place we’re visiting safe.

Snow leopard at the Pittsburgh Zoo. He was sleeping. Not dead.

It means staying out of fountains with signs that say “stay out of fountains”.  It means not playing on statues or other structures that are marked “Do not play”.  It means, keeping them safely off of the railings at the zoo or other places where they could be hurt by a an accidental fall.  Those signs that tell you what to do aren’t arbitrary.  They’re important.  So important.

People are now calling for the zoo to make changes.  And, the probably will have to.  Hopefully, there’s not a law suit. Hopefully, the ten remaining dogs (one was shot during the incident) can return to the exhibit that has been their home where they can be enjoyed by other zoo goers.  But, please, remember most of all that nothing is fail proof.

Baby sea lion at the Pittsburgh Zoo.

Please, always be safe.  Always observe posted rules.  Always use good, common sense.  Always consider that at less than perfect view of the elephants at play is okay when the alternative could be worse.  I’m not trying to be all gloom and doom.  I’m not.  The willful disrespect of general rules is something I’ve noticed.  I know that they sometimes make things less fun, but the consequences can be devastating.  Please, take care.



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