Eve found plenty of fault with Adam during their sabotaged marriage but one charge she was never able to make stick was, ‘You never listen to me.’ Nor, for that matter, was a certain snake ever able to say that of her.
It’s not every day that a snake talks. Even if you are new on the planet, encountering surprises each day, it still seems that a talking snake would knock your socks off, assuming you were wearing any. It’s why I like the snake depiction in Paradise Lost, by the poet John Milton, published in 1667.
It’s not really the snake speaking; it is a rebellious spirit creature using it as though a ventriloquist his dummy. Milton’s twist on the snake is that it is anything but dumb. Persuading Eve to eat from the forbidden tree, it says, ‘Look what it did for me. And if it can give speech to me, a common snake, just think what it can do for you!’ Oh, yeah. It’s all speculative; you can’t go there with any certainty, but it does make good sense. You can picture it happening this way.
At the reptile house of any modern zoo, however, you will find no attendants to tell about Eve and the snake. They would be fired if they did, most likely, though it’s a little hard to tell; probably that statement has never been tested. They’ve all been through college and have emerged with degrees in zoology, marine biology, conservation biology, wildlife management, and animal behavior, and the like. They are all strictly evolution-oriented. Every vestige of creation-belief has been pounded out of them. Don’t go telling them about Eve.
Not that the animals suffer on that account. They do far better than when I found a downed robin chick as a boy and tried to nurse it back to health with grass to sit on, hot dogs to eat, and a few twigs to remind them of trees. The zoo care is first rate, and it was not long ago that I heard a tiny child discussing with its mother about ‘habitat’—a word I certainly never knew as a child. But don’t even think about original serpents pulling the wool over Eve’s eyes here. It is not allowed.
The wildlife graduates that don’t find zoo employment find it instead in video production. There, they employ powerful AI tools to detect just when you are about to cry out in astonishment ‘Creation!’ ‘Design!’ at some breathtakingly dazzling animal behavior. Heading off the words while they are yet in your throat, the narrator gushes: “How absolutely incredible that natural selection works to produce such amazing behavior!”
Others present animal packs and herds as though criminal gangs, killing, maiming, and eating each other. ‘Don’t you dare even think of Bambi!’ they glower. ‘The fight for survival is all you need to know about.’
All the same, zoos are light years ahead of what they were when I was a boy, back when they were essentially jails for animals. ‘They are still jails for animals,’ my brother mutters, who will not visit on that account. But if you take into account their endeavor to save the nature that their fellows destroy, they’re earn one’s appreciation. It’s not everything, but it’s a fine stopgap until Revelation 11:18 is realized and the time comes for God to “bring to ruin those who are ruining the earth.” Zoos slow them down a little bit. Just like my cousin says about the vintage Mustangs he restores. If you put such-and-such a price on them, people come beating down your door, but if you add 20K to it, “that slows them down a little.”
At the Columbus zoo, the elephants roam through a huge U-shaped enclosure, with spectators peering from the peninsula thus formed in the middle. Zoo workers call them from one end of the enclosure to another—keep them moving, is the idea, just like in the wilds. Also like in the wild is food that requires them to use their ‘problem-solving skills.’ Some is suspended. Some must be unraveled or opened in various tricky ways. They will show their feet on command, and the idea here is so those foot bottoms may be inspected for health. They all respond to their names. The elephant named Rudy has a slinking aspect to its gait that, combined with a bobbing head, makes him look like a teenager trying to act cool. Just a mannerism, the volunteer told me. He does it especially when excited or glad.
Creative people are hard at work. “How do you know if an animal is venomous?” asks posters in the Columbus reptile house. “If it bites you and you get sick, the animal is venomous” is the chipper heads-up. And when workman were building something or other at the Syracuse zoo, the accompanying legend described their habitat: coffee and donuts during the day; television in the family room during the evening.
They’ll tempt you with zoo membership upon entering most of them. The fee is more than for a single entrance, but you afterwards get in as many times as you like for free. Moreover, half-price is the fee at any other participating zoo. That’s how we came to be in both Columbus and Syracuse. Periodically, my wife and I have to get away and plot a course to some new locale. We don’t go just for the zoo, but while there we always check out that zoo.
Are we the only ones to ever have had that idea? Not at all. Here is a site that even undertakes to rate all the zoos.
****** The bookstore