Lost in the Seattle Zoo

Seattle Zoo Security Employee:   “How old is the missing person ?”

Ms. J:  “He’s 47”

Zoo Employee; “Oh…. Ok”

On our recent trip to Seattle we spent an afternoon at the Seattle Zoo.  It’s a much larger zoo than I had expected.  There are large exhibits for elephants, lions, monkeys, birds, a large area devoted to the mammals of the Pacific Northwest, and beautiful zoo architecture throughout. I saw very little of it though.   After about an hour into our visit I got lost.

While we were at the meerkat exhibit, I saw one of those information poles with arrows pointing to a number of other things in the area.  Arrows pointing to where the elephants, lions, birds, food, and rest rooms could be found.  I decided that going to the rest room would be a good idea so I told Ms. J: “I’ll be right back, I’m just going to run over to the rest room.”    At least that’s what I thought I said.  Maybe I was in such a rush that I said it while I was starting to do my run to the rest room, so maybe she didn’t hear me.  What she heard was “I’m going to the restroom”. It will soon become apparent why I  then proceeded to get lost in the zoo for the next two hours.

I had assumed that since everything else on the info pole was nearby, then the rest room must be nearby too.   That turned out to be incorrect.  The restroom the info pole was referring to was all the way at the entrance of the park, about a 1/4 mile away.  Maybe less, I’m not sure, it seemed like a long run to me at the time.  Or it might have just seemed far, because by then, I really did have use the rest room.  So, as I was passing everything else mentioned on the various arrows; elephants, lions, food court, I started to wonder where this bathroom was supposed to be.   After running through what seemed like the whole park, I finally found it, and realized that I was back where we started, at the entrance.

When I exited, I ran back to where we parted, at the meerkat exhibit.  Ms. J and Mr. C were not there.  So I waited, and read all about meerkats, and took a picture of them, and watched them run around their enclosure.  I started to get concerned after about ten minutes.  Took out my cell phone and saw that I had no coverage.  So, I decided to go back to the entrance area.  Maybe they had followed me and thought I was going to meet them there.  I waited around at the vast entrance plaza for a few minutes and started to wonder if they were back at the meerkat exhibit.  So I went back there and wondered why we didn’t have an emergency meet up area planned.   Because we have cell phones, that’s why.

Yes, meerkats, I’m back.  Please stop laughing at me.


When I was a kid, my parents always told me to stay where I was if I got lost.  That always seemed like sound advice.  So maybe it would be a good idea to stay here at the meerkats since that was the last place we were all together.  So I stayed with my new friends, the meerkats.  Did you know that the meerkats are native to the Kalahari Desert regions of Botswana, Namibia, and SouthAfrica.  They have sentries that help to protect their burrows by making calls if a predator approaches. They are very social, with burrows having long histories of meerkat families living in them.  Yes, all very interesting, and all this and more I learned while reading about them at the Seattle zoo over the next hour and a half.  I started to recognize some of them after awhile.

Maybe they went over to see the lion cubs ?  J mentioned that she wanted to see them.  Hmmm… not there.  Maybe they’re back at the entrance.  Now back to the meerkats.

It continued like this for an embarrassingly long time so I went over to a large map of the zoo and decided to plan my next move.  When I turned  around a zoo security man sitting in an SUV called out to me “Does your name happen to be Peter?”   I’m sure that the zoo security had given my disappearance a low priority considering how concerned he looked.   After confirming, to his surprise, that neither my cell phone had service, and that he could not call Ms. J on her cell phone either, he told me where they were and I ran to meet them.  Yes, even though he was in an SUV, I was not offered a ride.  So for the unknown number of times, back to the entrance area I went.

They met me back at the entrance, where we immediately decided to start having a designated meet up spot when we go on one of these outings.  They had been at the entrance area pretty much the whole time.  Seems as though it’s just such a large area that I missed them and they missed me in my journey back and forth between the meerkats and the entrance.

We also discovered that while my parents favored the ‘Stay Put’ plan when lost, her parents favored the ‘Go back to the entrance’ plan.  A plan that I’m not about to disagree with, but one which I had never heard of.  Luckily it was just me who was lost and not Mr. C.

We then went back into town for a delicious meal, and since I had more than my share of exercise for the day, I fell asleep within minutes of returning to the hotel.

9 thoughts on “Lost in the Seattle Zoo

  1. Haha, I see you had quite an adventure in that zoo! I’d hate to get lost in the San Diego Zoo, it’s pretty big too. I can’t believe you couldn’t get coverage in a zoo in Seattle. Did you get good coverage in other places there? Scary.

    Interesting photo of meerkats. I’ve never seen them in an indoor enclosure. Do you know if they still get to dig underground tunnels?

    • They had a large outdoor area, with that enclosed area inside as well. Looked like they enjoyed looking at the people as much as the people liked looking at them. The Seattle zoo was surprisingly large, I hadn’t heard anything about it, so I wasn’t expecting much. It’s not as big as Sand Diego but still a pretty good zoo.

      The phone coverage was a little spotty in Seattle, that’s Sprint I guess.

  2. This was hilarious! And really, I’m not laughing at you, I’m laughing with you. Well maybe a little at you.

    It seems to be a common theme at zoos. Those signs are awful. I’ve been in that situation a number of times. I thought it was just me.

    • Thanks! Maybe the signs at zoos are for entertainment purposes and are not really meant to be used for directions. Their maps always seem to be just a collection of amorphous blobs representing each animal area, some kind of confused looking animated mascot, and fine print on the bottom saying “Not Drawn to Scale”. They could at least give each street a name, like Elephant Avenue or something like that.

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