Setting Thesaurus Entry: Zoo


trees, bamboo, shrubbery, bees, mosquitoes, sidewalks, wooden walkways, buildings, fenced enclosures, glassed-in enclosures, well-worn animal paths from pacing, fences, concession stand, restrooms, picnic tables, gift shop, informative signs, vending machines with animal food, garbage cans, fallen leaves, personnel on golf carts, janitors, animal trainers, children, parents with strollers, families, classes on field trips, birds, insects, fish, spiders, bats, reptiles, mammals, big cats, marsupials, rain forest animals, desert animals, grassland animals, arctic animals, woodland animals, rocks, pools, streams, caves, toys, food (cotton candy, snow cones, popcorn, ice cream, chips, fries, hamburgers, hot dogs), zoo cafe, stroller & wagon rental stations, smudged viewing windows, benches and steps, outdoor amphitheater for elephant show, cue card with animal information and photo, learning centers and activities, gift shop, play ground, lockers, washrooms

Animals: Tigers, puma, Elephants, Lions, Hippos, beavers, turtles, gorillas, howler monkey, spider monkey, panda, red panda, lynx, boas, porcupines, giraffes, bears, alligators, big horn sheep, moose, deer, zebra, ostrich, flamingos, peacocks, owls, bats, hawks, falcons, snakes, wart hog, vultures, fox, wolf, polar bear, black bear grizzly, leopard, snow leopard, chimpanzee, marmots, etc.


people talking, cell phones ringing, children laughing/whining/asking questions, babies crying, running feet, leaves crunching, stroller wheels, beep of golf carts, wind in the trees, insects buzzing, birds chirping/calling, flap of bird wings, various animal cries/growling, animals splashing in water, personnel giving informative lessons over microphone or to small groups, food orders being called out, the rustle of napkins, kids shoes and sandals slapping against the paved walkways, bees buzzing, shrieking, food wrappers crinkling, money jingling in pockets, voices echoing in indoor animal enclosures and stations, doors swinging/sliding/whooshing open and shut, fake rain forest sounds coming from speakers, kids pounding or knocking on the glass, parents losing their temper


animal smells (manure, wet fur, oily hair/fur/skin) fishy or algae smells in water enclosures or man made ponds, garbage, rain, food from concession stand (hamburgers, pizza, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, fries, popcorn), mosquito repellent, sunblock (coconut or flowery), perfumes, body odor, babies who need diapers changed, mud, wild flowers, dust, fresh grass or hay, rotting fruit


Fresh air, rainwater, bottled water, soda, concession stand food, sweat, mosquito repellent, sunblock, ice cream, chewing tobacco, gum, mints


wooden walkways/cracked sidewalks/fallen leaves underfoot, hot sidewalk, burning sun, cool breeze, drizzling rain, sweaty clothes sticking to skin, noses pressed against plastic/glass, frigid air of penguin house, perspiring soda bottles, melting ice cream, fence boards beneath fingers, gritty bird seed in hands, soft or coarse fur in petting zoo, wet noses, tickle of snouts as animals eat from your hand, greasy sunblock or mosquito repellent, pull of jacket around waist, bodies pressing together trying to see animals, being nudged, bumped, holding you hand out for change, the drip of ice cream on hand or arm, rubbing a napkin across the lips, brushing chip crumbs off clothing, smooth handrails, the weight of a camera in the hand or camera strap pulling at the neck, backpack pulling on shoulders

Helpful hints:

--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1:

I stood at the glass, stretching up on my tip toes so I could find a spot not smudged by kids' butter-stained fingers. To see a lion up close at last! I scanned the fallen logs, the grassy hill, under the bower of a poplar tree, searching for the king of the jungle. Finally I found him pacing along a well-packed path that spanned the fence line. As the great creature paraded back and forth over and over, my excitement faded and my heart began to hurt. It didn't belong here, caged inside wire and fed rations of meat. It belong in a place without barriers or borders. It deserved a life free of man where it could hunt and provide for its pride. As people around me gasped in awe of it's massive body and silky mane, I turned away and made for the exit.

Example 2:

"Mommy, look!" Sandy poked her stick-like hand up in the air as if she could touch the sky. "Big!"

I grinned and knelt down beside her stroller, seeing what she saw--her first look at a real giraffe. Sandy sucked in a breath as the creature's graceful neck leaned forward toward a tree branch. With careful precision, its tan lips stripped all the leaves. We sat there watching it's slow smooth gait as it went from tree to tree, until a zookeeper came into the enclosure and led the giraffe indoors.

--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile)

The peacock strutted among the wild grass and marigolds, it's beautiful blue-green tail feathers trailing behind it like a bride's wedding dress.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

Mary and Arlen ran pell-mell down the leaf-littered path between the flamingo enclosure and the Lion Den Cafe, shrieking at the top of their lungs how they had to see the elephants right now. I hurried after them, praying they didn't knock anyone down. Funny how an ice cream cone, a bottle of pop and a bag of gummy bears could make two six year old seem less like zoo visitors and more like occupants.


Danyelle said...

This brings back many fond memories, and many not-so-fond smells. :p

Mary Witzl said...

That's me in Example 1 -- that's my story! One of the saddest things I've ever seen was a polar bear in Tokyo's Ueno Zoo, mid-August. He had a palace-sized enclosure that was, of course, too small for him, and no matter how much ice they kept chucking into his pool, the poor bear was utterly hot and miserable. Just looking at him made me forget how hot and miserable I was.

For me, zoo smells trump sight, sound, taste, and touch...

Angela said...

Danyelle, I agree--the smells! Yikes!

Mary, I feel the same way about zoos. It is hard for me to take my kids there because I feel so bad for the animals. I try to eep in mind that it's educational, that if kids didn't see endangered species, they wouldn't care when they go extinct, but...nope, still don't care for the zoo thing.

spamwarrior said...

I like visiting zoos, haven't gone in a while. I hate it when they enclose bears and lions in tiny little cages. In the Taipei Zoo, if I remember correctly, they basically gave it a field-like place to roam. It was huge and I think the lion was happy.

Angela said...


I agree, the sall enclosures are what makes going to the zoo heartbreaking. Here in Calgary we have a zoo and I remember when I first started taking the kiddos to it, the enclosures were terrible for the elephants, hippos and giraffes--tiny places with little room to move or roam. Thanks goodness the zoo has since then continually upgraded the grounds and now all these animals have decent living spaces.

Ha, some irony--I just spoke to my cousin who is in town with his family and we're meeting him at the zoo this week. :-)

C.R. Evers said...

another great list! I luv the zoo!

Kate said...

This is so great and creative!!

Marian said...

:D at the comment about the kids being more like occupants than visitors!

I don't mind watching animals in zoos if they're small (the animals, not the zoo). But the larger the animal is, the more out-of-place they seem to me. They always seem to belong in the open, the wild.

I especially don't want to see cheetahs in small enclosed spaces. Cheetahs are like the physical manifestation of the wind. I love watching them in their natural habitat.

Flores Hayes said...

a great find for panda fanatic!
my roommate and i LOVE this bag


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