Serpentine Mind

Dalrymple continues his recent writings on animals in New English Review:

When I was young and taken to the zoo I always wanted to go straight to the reptile house. First, however, I had to see the boring old chimpanzees, lions, hippopotamuses, etc., because those were what my adult supervisors always wanted to see. (I remember the notice in the hippopotamus house, apologising for the smell but saying that we, that is to say the hippopotamuses, like it.)

I would pester the adults by asking constantly whether we could go to the reptiles soon, much as a child in a car asks ‘Are we there yet?’ Eventually the adults would say Yes, but reluctantly, for they did not really want to see the reptiles, in fact they wanted not to see them.

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