Last weekend I took my niece and nephew to a petting zoo, not any old run of the mill eeyie eeyie o petting zoo, but one that had taken a careful and special effort to mirror the real world in way that would show and teach the children about the countryside and all it has to offer. They loved it, scuttling about from area to area feeding the chickens which clucked about pecking at their feet, holding the baby rabbits, noses twitching (thats the rabbits noses) and laughing at the goats who seemed more interested eating just about anything but the food they were offered. It was a very funny day.
All this paled in to insignificance however once they had seen the star attraction. Their eyes lit up in wonder at all that lay before them. The bright buckles on the tunics shone in the sun and the red fabrics were lush and soft like something royalty would wear, they were going to have such fun dressing up in their outfits.
Once trussed up like little soldiers they toddled off to meet their new friend. My niece was very excited at being paired with a pot belly pig called Blücher. It had such a smart saddle for her to sit in atop the pig, triumphant. Around the pig gathered forty or so adorable ferrets weaving in and out the pot belly pigs feet stopping on occasion for a pat on the head from my niece as she approved of their energy and earnestness.
It was such a picture, all the mums and dads gathered round to watch enjoying the spectacle – this was what country living was all about. My niece had decided it was time, she blew her kazoo, Blücher reared up on his stout hind legs and the ferrets all stood to attention, ears pricked and eager to please. The guinea pigs were released and the chase was on. The ferrets swarmed like locusts and my niece and her piggy steed waddled behind blowing her kazoo and regally waving to us admittedly with a glazed expression on her face. I wish I could say the ferrets were merciful, but ferrets being ferrets ripped those guinea pigs limb from limb, blood spraying over their dirty brown fur, guinea pig flesh staining their teeth and gums. I wish I could say it’d been quick but the cunning guinea pigs had ran ragged for over 3 hours until exhaustion gave out and the chase turned in to a slaughter.
Kids are remarkable, you would have thought the sight of a disembowelled guinea pig would upset them but the resilient little peeps seem to have an naivety that allows the brutality to go over their heads. It wouldn’t have surprised me if my little niece had dismounted Mr Blücher and set about picking the guinea pig’s remains clean on her hands and knees like a dog. Perhaps thats a bit far.
One day they’ll grow up of course and that naivety will have gone and the childhood halcyon summer days will be a distant memory. Almost a parody of the grown up life that awaits them.