I was assigned to review Scunthorpe Zoo today. Scunthorpe is an area rich in culture, heritage and fat girls on bikes sitting outside local supermarkets waiting for their boyfriends to return with their shoplifted loot.
The Zoo is an attraction that could put the area on the map - Scunthorpe has been removed for several maps for the past few years due to lack of interest.
The first thing that you notice upon arrival at the Zoo is the ornate gateway based on the entrance to the park in the movie Jurassic Park. In Scunthorpe Zoo, though, the gate is made of chicken wire with some bunting draped limply across it covered in swastikas!
The admission fee's are generous: adults and giant children pay £1.50; Pensioners and those arriving in a wheelbarrow pay 75p; whilst Children and midgets are free if accompanied by two men with beards. Brain Blessed and Noel Edmunds have been regulars since the zoo opened last week.
The first port of call is the 'Aqua Dome', a small bucket filled with what looks like dirty dishwater water and teeming with bizarre creatures.
I counted five dead mice floating upside down alone.
The children present were struggling to gather around the bucket and see, but seemed pleased enough with the gruesome display.
Next stop was the Penguin enclosure. This actually didn't feature any penguins - just rows of those Penguin chocolate bars lines up against a wall melting. My enthusiasm was slowly beginning to wane.
'Tropical Scunthorpe' has been prominently featured on all advertising related to the zoo, so I was eager to see what all the fuss was about. I t features animals native to the Scunthorpe area such as a terrier dog belonging to Mrs. Emily Brideshead from number 41, and a budgie borrowed from a local school.
Children were warned not to feed the 'wild' animals, especially the 'Beast of Scunthorpe' - a legendary creature that looks pretty much like the same terrier dog but with some budgie feathers stuck to it. Rumour has it that the Beast chased a postman once and shits pure evil. This ferocious animal growled quite a lot, and at one stage barked at a cat. The children were terrified and we quickly moved on.
Scunthorpe Zoo doesn't have any funds for pretty much anything, so the owners have had to improvise. Instead of monkeys they have brought in the next best thing: a badger. Somehow, they have managed to teach the tuberculosis-spreading animal to climb trees and eat bananas. It really is quite graceful as it grazes from the treetops.
The children wanted to see Elephants, Giraffes and zebra but instead got a man dressed like a pantomime horse, a cat at the top of a stepladder and something I can only hazard a guess at being a painted pig!
The children laughed at the dancing worms, which were 'summoned up' by a local fisherman with a pail of soapy water and dressed bizarrely like an Indian mystic.
I think even the children understood that this was fucking sad.
Snack time took place in a portable bus shelter, where I shared a lollypop and a chat with the head zookeeper Mike Patterson.
Mike said that the zoo still had some work needing to be done and that it would get better. The 'Chamber of Terror', For instance was not yet up and running - the zoo was awaiting the release from quarantine of a ferret with rabies, which they hoped would add some extra shock value to the park.
Mike also told me that there was problems with local people who were terrified by the sheep and that a vicious lamb named 'Bittys' had attacked several old ladies coming home from church.
After lunch I continued on the tour.
How did it go? Well, let me put it this way: the crow was the highlight.
A bunch of cardboard boxes were laid out in long rows and people walked around them trying to see inside. This lasted for about ten minutes before we realised that we were just looking at the rubbish left out for the bin men!
Another exhibition was simply just a few cardboard cutouts of animals taken from a picture guidebook to Africa!
I thought 'Swan Lake' would be a nice calming diversion but when I got there I saw that it was a hole in the ground into which a broken sewerage pipe leaked shite!
The swans were dead and floating on top and some fucking genius had the bright idea to play classical music over the loudspeakers to add to the chilling effect.
The screams of the children echoed through the park and scattered the nearby birds nestling in the trees like a scene from a shitty horror movie.
I was starting to get depressed. Surely Scunthrope has more to offer than this old cack?
I had had enough.
I climbed the 4-foot fence and raced to safety.
This reviewer will never, ever be setting foot in Scunthorpe Zoo in the very near future!
I would give Scunthorpe Zoo a rating of -76 out of 100.