The New Guy: Central Park Zoo

A recent transplant to the city, Dashiell continues his quest to discover the "real New York." Help his search at newguy@gawker.com.

Destination: Central Park Zoo.
Guide: Adriana Vink, baby gentrifier.

I was not aware that New York City was in such a temperate zone. Where I come from, 60-degree days are pretty rare in mid-December — thanks, Al Gore! — so I decided to take advantage of the dog days this week and get outside while the sun was still up. I heard there was a zoo hidden somewhere in Central Park and wanted to check it out, but I also didn't want to hang out there by myself like some loser. So in an effort to seem less creepy, I borrowed a little kid from a friend.

The main attraction at this zoo is the sea lions. In a very un-New York twist, they are clearly visible from outside the fence, so you can watch them from afar without paying admission. What kind of business model is that?

I bought a ticket anyway and went inside, but the sea lions refuse to come out of the water unless they're being fed. See? Even marine mammals understand that no one gets somethin' for nothin'. Not in this city. Adriana couldn't really see them through the plexiglass anyway, so we moved on.

The New Guy: Central Park Zoo

We headed for the polar bear enclosure and suddenly I became quite depressed. It's like staring into a cubicle at Wall Street's most boring bank, only no cube dweller anywhere in this city could possibly hate his life as much as this bear. For starters, it's 58 degrees and sunny and he probably hasn't seen snow in a year. He has rocks to climb on and a diving pool with a waterfall, but he's sleeping on a plastic floor mat and his chew toy is an empty gas can. If all that wasn't enough, a sign on the glass informs us that zookeepers hide his food, so that he has to hunt for it. He's not miserable enough, so you have to make him work for his dinner? I hope they're at least mixing Zoloft in with it.

I watch him for ten minutes and he doesn't move a muscle. I like to imagine that he was dreaming about claws ripping through human flesh. At this point, I'm pretty sure that Adriana doesn't even realize there are animals at this place.

Next is the turtle pond, which is almost as big as the polar bear cage and just as exciting. I believe the Central Park Zoo has more turtles per capita than any place outside the Galapagos Islands. That's them on the log.

The New Guy: Central Park Zoo

Trust me, they're even more vibrant in person. Adriana, of course, didn't see a thing.

The zoo's real strong suit is birds. They have penguins, puffins, swans, parrots, exotic ducks, and some kind of flamingo looking thing, but Adriana was most impressed by the pigeon exhibit, which encompasses the entire park. These guys roam free among the visitors and you can practically reach out and touch them! It's even better than the indoor rain forest, though the birds in there nest right above your head, providing an excellent opportunity to be shit upon.

The New Guy: Central Park Zoo

Our last stop is the children's zoo, where little kids come to stare at other little kids. Seriously, they could save a lot of money if they just did away with the animals altogether. Squirrels and pigeons are free, they can feed themselves, and toddlers are only truly interested in each other.

Finally, as we were about to leave, Adriana discovered her favorite part of the whole zoo. It was the only thing that held her attention for more than 30 seconds, and it was all I could do to tear her way.

The New Guy: Central Park Zoo

Goat food vending machines. The one animal no child can resist.

Earlier: Harlem