The Baltimore Zoo Through the Lens of Fall Libations

Baltimore has a zoo! I almost forgot. I definitely went there when I was a kid. I was riding my bike past it one day and I thought to myself, you know, I should really check out the zoo again. I love animals. Animals are great! To think, within Baltimore’s city limits you can find art galleries, history, great food, heroin, and elephants. Yes, did you forget that we had elephants? I almost did!

I decided to have another look at the zoo.

I also decided to do you a favor and review a couple of highly favored fall beverages at the same time, and kill two birds with one stone. Well, not literally. That is not in the spirit of the zoo!

Here’s the lineup: Bulleit Bourbon, certainly a chill-weather staple this year, and for all you pumpkin beer lovers out there, a new offering from New Belgium called “Pumpkick,” which may or may not actually be new, I have no idea.

I knew I would need a counterpart with a surly temper to counter my catlike journalism on this most magnificent day. I called upon Letitia Susi, a friend and a long-time drinker, as well as Bob Rose, local filmmaker and sober-person, to drive us around and take care of us like a daddy, and to be second cameraman.

I am very good at choosing people for jobs. Both fulfilled their roles perfectly without really having to be asked.

As far as I can remember.

Bulleit Bourbon

Letitia showed up some time in the morning and we began the tasting of the Bulleit, which I happened to have half of a giant bottle of because of partying.

Morning: time for shots. The Bulleit was smooth as hell, and tasted like whiskey. Yes.

Letitia’s review: “I can get drunk on this.”

We filled up our flasks, which we knew we would need at the zoo later on. We also did several more shots, and Bob showed up. Bob does not drink. He was unable to review the Bulleit.

He drove us to the liquor store where I acquired our six pack of New Belgium Pumpkick. Before we could drink that, we had to be “not moving” because of laws about driving while people in the car are drinking, I think? We were hungry, so we stopped at, well, McDonald’s. This reminded me of why I don’t eat at McDonald’s.


oh god.
Oh god.


In the parking lot of the Baltimore Zoo, we reviewed the Pumpkick.


New Belgium Pumpkick

best drunk in the car
Best drunk in the car.


we also reviewed the Bulleit again
We also reviewed the Bulleit again.


The Pumpkick tastes like a blustery fall day, the kind of day where you know you have to rake up those leaves but the chilly snap of the air is just like really harshing your day up and you decide to just get drunk instead.

Letitia’s review: “We need to chug this before it gets warm.”

And so we did. We got hammered on expensive pumpkin beer in the car. Like you do.

Decidedly ready for the zoo, we went inside. Ok, so the Baltimore Zoo costs twenty dollars. Yes. It does. Can you believe that? The zoo in DC costs nothing! What!? This is nonsense, obviously. Well. I paid it. But I am not happy about it. I also had to pay for Letitia because she was feeling particularly poor that day. “I’m not paying to see some animals,” she said. “I have a fucking cat.”

One of the first things we saw at the zoo was a desperate picture of sad isolation and depression. The polar bear.

how long until death?
How long until death?


The poor polar bear looked like he wanted to just die. He could barely lift his head. Sure, it’s possible he “had just been napping” or something, but when you see an animal act like this big guy, you just have to be sad. “He looks so fucking sad,” said Letitia. “Oh no.” I shook my head, snapped a photo, contemplated life in a tiny slice of my natural habitat. Awful. Next to the polar bear was a fake safari truck you could get into which was playing a video in the fake windows which were actually TVs and which were depicting the “natural” life of the polar bear.

actual happy polar bear
Actual happy polar bear.


It’s like the zoo was putting them side by side to contrast. Like, you could just look to the right and see the pathetic bear right next to these TV screens. Bizarre.

We moved on.

The next exhibit was a guy mowing the lawn.



I mean, I’m sure he is doing his job really well and all, but this is definitely not an animal that needed to be kept behind a fence. I did note that the toy they gave the human to play with was not even a “green” electric mower but a gasoline engine which was pumping out lovely fumes for the cheetahs next door to remind them of their native Africa. Huh.

Next to him was a raven. And we are in Baltimore, so, yeah.

Good point, this bird is related to sports. Thanks, zoo.
Good point, this bird is related to sports. Thanks, zoo.


Yup, that’s a Ravens football logo right there. This bird, this beautiful wild animal capable of flight and possessing problem-solving intelligence rarely found in the animal kingdom, is in a cage being gawked at because it is a mascot for the local sports team.

"fuck the Steelers, I say"
“Fuck the Steelers” he is thinking.


The zoo kept getting better and better. We moved on yet again, but not before giving the Bulleit a more thorough review.

tasting the savannah
A taste of the Savanna.


Now, I would be lying if I said I did not enjoy “The Circle of Life” being pumped into the speakers here at the zoo. I love that song. It is the opening song of one of my favorite movies, ever. And there is nothing quite like the song from an animated movie about African animals living out an aesthetically whimsical version of Hamlet to really get you close to actual animals. It just made me realize that, yes, we have all these animals locked in cages, animals that would otherwise be living out their free lives as part of the global ecosystem, for the amusement of our children. It really reminded me of humans’ dominance over the animals, which is why I came to the zoo today. I think Bob was really into it, too. We took a moment to take that in.

"I can't believe how much better we are than animals."
“I can’t believe how much better we are than animals.”


Next, we decided to check out the aviary. The aviary has two doors to get in, like an “airlock,” I suppose so that the birds can’t get out. You’re only supposed to have one door open at a time. I got yelled at for having them both open. The alcohol in my blood disagreed with the man yelling at me. But that is not important. What is important is that I am rather proud of my photo of this spoonbill.

just like national geographic or whatever Just like National Geographic or whatever.


Man, a spoonbill. If there was ever a movie about weird birds I am telling you this guy would be the star. Letitia and Bob also really liked the aviary.

"we're having a really good time"
“We’re having a really good time.”


It was around this time that I noticed we were entering the zone where we were in danger of being thrown out. Letitia was throwing F-bombs around like she was the Santa Claus of cussing. Parents were giving us looks, moving their children away from us as though we were the danger here and not the man-eating lions eyeing their kids from behind a weak piece of glass. Really.

"it's not the booze it's my life"
“It’s not the booze, it’s my life.”


I changed course and directed us towards the monkey house where I knew this sort of thing would be okay. Monkeys are just cussing all the time. Monkeys also move too fast to take photos of. However, I did get a photo of some incredible monkey art. Check out this hand print, expression of individuality and the longing for freedom:



That is a baboon that just wants to be heard.

We saw some weird bird things that were kind of like real birds except they were huge and their necks were hilariously long.

and can not even fly
And can not even fly.


And these dumb shaggy brown things would apparently bite you if you get too drunk near them.



We didn’t get bit by anything, although Letitia really worked hard on that project.

So we saw a lot of dumb animals that day, and a couple of really cool ones, like my friend the spoonbill there, man I really want to get to know that guy. He was doing this thing like bobbing his head around and doing a little dance-type thing like he was auditioning for the part. But I want to say man, you do not have to audition my friend, you are a star my bird friend, you have the part! If any venture capitalists out there want to fund a movie about a spoonbill rock band that starts with nothing and rocks their way to the top, just get at me because I have the guy for you. His name is Spoony. His band is Spoony and the Soup. You know, because you eat soup with spoons.

We drank some more, well, we finished reviewing the Bulleit we had brought in with us, and started heading out. Letitia can’t leave a place without committing at least a minor act of anarchy, so, totally proud of herself, she stole a rock. Yes. She stole a rock and put it in her bag and waited until we were safely in the parking lot to gloat about it. She even posed on the trunk of Bob’s car with it.


I am an alcoholic
Seize the Day!


And there you have it. Here’s how it all stacks up:



Bulleit Bourbon: 7.5 / 10

New Belgium Pumpkick: 8 / 10

Zoo: 4 / 10

Conclusion: I bet the Aquarium is a cooler place to get drunk at.



Bulleit Bourbon: 10 / 10

New Belgium Pumpkick: 7 / 10

Zoo: 10 / 10

Conclusion: Fuck.



Zoo: Great.

Conclusion: I had a wonderful time.


The end.