The shark shoutdown

Good day my readers!

It’s two days after Christmas, and all through my house, not a creature was stirring… yeah, everyone is still abed, with visions of lego projects dancing in their heads, so I grab this opportunity to make a sappy non-rhyming poem and do a blog, in one sitting! Which, sadly, turned out to be two..

I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas, and to say my Christmas at my house was filled with much love, thoughtful gifts and the occasional bauble, it was highly enjoyable, not a dull moment at all!

It’s now January 2, 2021!

How was your Christmas and New Years Eve? Were you alone, or with family? Did you Zoom with friends and family not there? Or did you zoom to friends and family over there?

Whatever you did, please stay safe, and enjoy this blog; it is filled with fun, confusion, horrors, but, luckily, no missing fingers…

If you recall my Columbus zoo blog, you’ll find reference to a “touch pool at the Discovery Reef.” This is a common feature at many zoos and aquariums worldwide; zoo-goers can touch, pet, poke, and maybe even pick up, the animals or sea creatures within that enclosure or tank.

It is a wildly fun activity, and possible star of the exhibit. Enjoy it as much as you can!

I can’t remember exactly what animals were in the touch pool at Columbus Zoo, I’m assuming they were docile creatures that won’t bite, sting, or otherwise maim the hand that is poking, prodding, or petting it. Sea creatures such as Starfishes, Sunfish, Horseshoe Crabs, hardy fishes, and toothless sharks of some sort, probably pups (baby sharks, not dogs), there were others, yes a few manta rays, and some other fishes that I can’t recall. The Touch Pool was busy, popular, well populated.

And you are right, I plunged my hand in this pool and petted a few crabs, handled a starfish or two, caressed a shark fin, and the graceful manta rays. It was fun and enjoyable.

After a spell, my group moved on. So I washed my hands, and continued with the tour…

Fast forward, as life unfolded: I got married, moved about 8 times, 4 times across Canada, had two sons, found out I had CAPOS… Ahh such is life!

At one point, my family went to the Vancouver Aquarium, and at another point, my family went to Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto. The story below could have happened at either venue, I cannot remember which, I’m thinking it happening in Toronto, my wife may know, she heard.

In fact, everyone heard about it, in fact, I would bet there were people in the atrium who heard about it! What is “it”? Well, there was a zookeeper, and he was yelling at me! Yes, he was yelling at me, but I didn’t hear him, I didn’t even look up from the pups I was petting.

I got ahead of my family and found the Touch Pool area, and quickly established a rapport with the Horseshoe Crabs. My God are they boring!! Walking this way, and that way, oh a corner, got to go back. Blah!

My family was still a few tanks back, I glanced over to the other low level tank, and saw some sharks. Oh now those are much more interesting!

I looked around for a sign, any sign, saw none, and plunged my hands into their tank. Those sharks were so cute, friendly! I was totally engrossed, enjoying the feeling of smooth fins and tails, I was having a blast! Five to ten times I was alone sharks, oblivious of anything, even the zookeeper yelling at me to stop!

I think he liked me, the shark, not the zookeeper! When I nonchalantly glanced up, for no reason other than to take a breather, I saw a red-faced zookeeper! While I could not hear him or read his lips, I could understand his body language. I realized he was yelling at me, he probably was doing this for 5 minutes at least! Caught on I did, and backed off, and found my family.

My wife, funny woman she is, heard about my escapade, and asked me, in ASL, “Did you have fun at the Shark Tank?” Sheepishly I said yes, and sat down while the family had their go at the Horseshoe Crab tank.

We left sometime later, throughly enjoying the aquarium, and its moving sidewalk!

A few points of interest:

  • The Shark Tank, like the Horseshoe Crab Tank, was low, lidless, brightly lit; they were in the same area of the aquarium.
  • Both tanks were enticing, inviting, people to handle the sea creatures.
  • There were NO signs at the shark tank that forbade putting hands in water. None that I saw, that is.

Putting these facts together, I could only assume that it was alright to put my hands in the water of both tanks, Horseshoe Crab and Shark.

Something must be said about the zookeeper; it was obvious, that he was NOT trained in customer relations, sensitivity. Yelling at people belittles them, even if the infraction was accidental!

Here is where Deaf Awareness comes in; he was yelling at me for a length of time unknown to me, he should have realized that I could not hear him, he should have gone a step further and thought “maybe this guy is Deaf…” had he done that, things would have turned out differently. He could have;

  • …alerted another zookeeper to help,
  • …come outside the enclosure himself,
  • …used a long pole to get my attention,
  • …asked a bystander to intervene.

If this shark tank was not for petting, but for demonstration or showcasing, a lid should have been used, or barriers used to keep people at bay. Of course, a bigger, bolder sign would have helped also.

Because I was yelled at, I scurried away, whoops… my fault. I didn’t complain, I didn’t even consider it. I almost forgot the incident entirely, as I already mentioned, I can’t remember if it happened in Toronto or Vancouver.

As I hope you can see, I was not at fault. It was the aquarium. Their zookeepers were not trained in Deaf Awareness, disability awareness, and signage. If I lost a finger, I would have been in a lot of pain, and would have probably, after finger reattachment surgery, sued.

Having a zookeeper yell at any customer is unacceptable, irregardless if that customer was young, old, disabled, mature, idiotic, or otherwise. Yelling at a customer who could is DeafBlind is thoughtless and irresponsible.

Thus, it is important for zoos, museums, aquariums and all those other fun places, to train their employees on customer sensitivity, deaf awareness and disability awareness!

Thanks for reading…

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