Follow TV Tropes


Hilarity in Zoos

Go To

Kenan: It'll be fun.
Kel: Last time you said "we're gonna have fun" I ended butt-naked in the zoo.
Kenan: That was the first time I ever heard a giraffe giggling.

Zoos are lovely places where people can observe wild animals that they otherwise would not be able to. While some animals would be dangerous if encountered in the wild, zoos provide a safe environment to observe them without risk.

Whenever a group of characters goes to the zoo, it's a given that something bad is going to happen. This is usually the result of the characters disobeying signage or rules, and trying to feed or touch animals that they aren't supposed to. A character may fall into an enclosure (or climb in themselves) and be bitten or attacked by an animal.

Animals involved tend to be the large or scary ones, like bears, wolves, elephants, snakes, lions, etc. In more-lighthearted works, funnier or more harmless animals like monkeys, sheep, chickens, or llamas may be encountered. When taken to its extreme, an Escaped Animal Rampage is inevitable. See also Menagerie of Misery.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Heaven's Lost Property, Ikaros, at Nymph's suggestion, frees all the animals from their cages. That would be bad enough itself, but Tomoki ends up getting stripped and is believed to be the one who freed them. This gets so out of hand that Barack Obama himself finds it a global emergency.
  • In Oumagadoki Doubutsuen, Aoi Hana gets a job in a zoo. Turns out the director is cursed, can turn any animal into Funny Animals and really wants to party all day.
  • Reborn! episode 14, "First Date!? Hell's Zoo": Highlights include having to recapture all the animals after Lambo blows up all their cages, and Ryohei testing his strength "to the extreme" by fighting a bear—at a video game.
  • In a chapter/episode of Sgt. Frog had Keroro sneaking into a zoo after-hours with a ray-gun that turns animals into humans, with the hopes of recruiting some of the transformed animals as soldiers for his invasion.
  • Yotsuba&!: Yotsuba punches a goat, freaks out on meeting an owl, and is mesmerized by the elephant.
  • Yui Kamio Lets Loose: In Chapter 5, Kiito goes to the zoo to look at the animals and runs into Yui in White and Nao. Nao then excuses herself and it becomes a date between Kiito and Yui (with Nao sneakily watching them). It goes mostly well despite Kiito's awkwardness around Yui in White, a performance monkey stealss the Sanzo chain off of Yui and Yui in Black continues the date by dragging Kiito by the hand. Then a lion appeared due to the previous monkey stealing the key to its pen and unlocking it. Yui in Black subdues it and wants to take him home prompting Kiito and Nao to seal her back to Yui in White before she actually does so.
  • "Hajime no Ippo": In one episode, Ippo and Kumi go on a date at the zoo. While he's there, Ippo stares down a tiger, thinking about his upcoming match against Sendo. The seriousness of the moment is broken when the tiger sprays him with urine.

    Comic Books 
  • In Blue Monday, Bleu and her friends go to the zoo, where every exhibit they see has animals mating in front of them. They eventually realize it only happens when Bleu goes near the animals, making them assume she has some sort of supernatural effect. All this is very irritating to Bleu, who's dealing with her own budding teenage sexuality.
  • Two examples from The Punisher:
    • The first from The Punisher: Welcome Back, Frank, where Ma Gnucci and her Mooks pursued Frank into a zoo, and he, without much in the way of weapons, used the animals to fend them off (like holding a guy's head under a piranha tank), culminating in a darkly hilarious fate for Ma Gnucci herself.
    • The second time is when a mook that Frank needs for information tells him about how the made man he was working for antagonized a monkey in a zoo. Said monkey proceeded to rip the guy's junk off and tossed it away, where it eventually got eaten by a vulture.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin's family goes to the zoo and he gets lost. Surprisingly, not much actually happens beside that, although Dad does run a little faster when he imagines Calvin going into the tiger pit because he likes them so much.

    Fan Works 
  • There is a cycle of stories in the Discworld continuum by A.A. Pessimal concerning the establishment of a City Zoo in Ankh-Morpork.
    • The genesis of the idea lies in C.M.O.T. Dibbler's half-baked scheme to set up a safari park in return for lots of money. Lord Vetinari sees the pitfalls straight away.
      "And you thought you'd set up a... safari park. On currently vacant land outside the city where you have an option to develop. This is a new concept, Mr Dibbler. Let me see if I have it correctly. You would have a large area surrounded by secure safety fences. Within which, the general public would pay to enter, and drive their carriages through, in order to safely witness exotic animals in what would be, as near as could be arranged, their natural habitat."
      "That's broadly it, sir, yes" said Dibbler, looking relieved.
      "The wildlife including lions. And baboons, which are a large predatory ape. And rhinoceri. And people would then drive carriages, possibly open-topped ones, through this park to see the animals at close quarters. Carriages drawn by horses. And you see no little... problems... with this picture?"
      "The idea can always be fine-tuned, sir. In the light of experience."
      "Indeed, Mr Dibbler. Indeed."
    • The recovered animals then become the nucleus of the Ankh-Morpork City Zoo. This is under the management of a professional (a person from Rimwards Howondaland who grew up in a Veldt populated by interesting wildlife, and who knows her stuff). Who then realises she has to train a bunch of motley amateurs, drawn from various trades, Guilds, and indeed species, to become zookeepers. Very, very, quickly.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Powerpuff Girls Movie, Mojo Jojo takes the girls to the zoo where he has the girls strategically posed for pictures in front of monkey cages so he can fire special probes into their fur for his later plan to rule Townsville.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy has the scene where the Channel 4 News Team goes to the San Diego Zoo to investigate Yet Another Baby Panda. Highlights include Ron jumping into the Bear Pit to save Veronica from certain danger (without thinking his plan all the way through) and a rival news anchor getting his (one remaining) arm ripped off.
  • Baby's Day Out : The whole sequence where the three bad guys try to retrieve the titular baby from a gorilla in a zoo. Hilarity Ensues as they get pwned by the gorilla in each of their attempts.
  • In BrainDead, the zombie plague starts with a woman getting bitten by the Sumatran Rat Monkey in a zoo.
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has a scene where a female erumpent (a giant rhino-like monster with an explosive horn) breaks into Central Park Zoo, looking for a mate. She causes an Escaped Animal Rampage, setting several zoo animals free.
  • Fierce Creatures takes place almost entirely at a zoo, so naturally they take advantage of it.
  • Old Dogs: Three of the protagonists try to sneak into a zoo and end up tangling with a gorilla and killer penguins.
  • In Osmosis Jones, Frank gets infected by Thrax when he drops a hard-boiled egg from his lunch next to the chimpanzee cage, and ends up wrestling with the one that grabbed it to reclaim and eat his now-contaminated snack.
  • We Bought a Zoo is a comedy-drama that takes place almost entirely in a zoo. Notable animal hijinks include a large, but friendly grizzly bear escaping and lumbering through the nearby town, and one of the zookeepers forgetting to lock the lion habitat just when The Inspector Is Coming.

  • Animorphs:
    • Not exactly zany, but in one book they go to the zoo and end up having to rescue a kid who falls in the crocodile pit. Rachel ends up discovering she's allergic to crocodile DNA (It Makes Sense in Context) It ends with a grizzly bear fighting a crocodile on national TV while scaring the crap out of an infuriatingly annoying teen star.
    • Cassie's mother is a vet at the local Amusment Park/Zoo and the kids regularly go to get there to get new morphs since the very first book. Probably the most insane event was the time Tobias needed a Dolphin morph and decided to get it during the water show (his plan was to fly in and land on its back, being that he's a Red-Tailed Hawk and not a human). Much to his horror, the Dolphin was spooked by this and begins to get very hyper, the reverse of the norm when they acquire new morphs.
  • Many of Gerald Durrell's books are about amusing events in zoos; most notably, Menagerie Manor and Beasts in my Belfry.
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's / Sorceror's Stone: Harry's accidental wizardry let a snake out of its case and (in the film version) trapped Dudley in it.
  • FunJungle by Stuart Gibbs runs off this trope, being a tween mystery/comedy series set in the fictional Funjungle Animal Park. To date, a hippo has been killed, a koala and panda have been kidnapped, a rhino was shot at, a cougar was framed for murder of a dog, and a T. Rex skull has been stolen.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One of Q's punishments on Impractical Jokers has him spend a day in a zoo exhibit with a camel named Pepe.
  • Malcolm in the Middle had a zoo episode. Highlights included Hal being bitten on the face by a tarantula during a demonstration (by Lois' Zookeeper ex-boyfriend), Reese antagonizing a goat (who gets revenge), and Malcolm and Dewey getting trapped in the tiger pit.
  • The main characters of The Mighty Boosh are zookeepers (in series 1 and 2), and some episodes deal with a problem at work.
  • Our Miss Brooks: It's a running gag that Mr. Boynton usually takes Miss Brooks to the zoo on their dates. The Movie Grand Finale ends with Mr. Boynton attempting to give Miss Brooks an engagement ring, albeit one he found in a box of Cracker Jack. Unfortunately, the two were standing in front of the monkey house; a female monkey named Chiquita reached out and stole it for herself. No matter, Miss Brooks and Mr. Boynton leave the zoo hand-in-hand. But Miss Brooks has a private word with Chiquita:
    Miss Brooks: [winks] I hope it doesn't take as long for you as it did for me!
    Chiquita: [winks back]
  • The opening credits of the last three seasons of Three's Company featured the cast getting into wacky hijinks at the Los Angeles Zoo: Jack getting distracted by a girl and slipping into one of the animal cages, Larry caressing what he thinks is Janet only to find out it's actually an elephant, Furley imitating a lion's growl and getting a weird look from a kid nearby, etc. On a side note, these credits also feature a cameo appearance by John Ritter's son Jason Ritter, who was only one year old at the time.

  • The song "Monkey Punk" (made famous by DanceDance Revolution) is about a group of kids who go to the zoo. One sticks his tongue out at the monkeys, which upsets them, and so one monkey retaliates by stealing his ice cream and making everyone laugh at him.
  • Simon & Garfunkel's "At the Zoo":
    The monkeys stand for honesty
    Giraffes are insincere
    And the elephants are kindly but they're dumb
    Orangutans are skeptical
    Of changes in their cages
    And the zookeeper is very fond of rum

    Zebras are reactionaries
    Antelopes are missionaries
    Pigeons plot in secrecy
    And hamsters turn on frequently
    What a gas!
    You gotta come and see
    At the zoo
    At the zoo

  • Marriott Edgar's poems/monologues Albert and the Lion and The Return of Albert, about the hazards of poking a lion in the ear with a stick.
  • "Sister Isobel and the Zoo", one of the narrative poems in Sister Madges Book Of Nuns, concerns a convent school class going on an outing to the zoo. Sister Isobel encourages the children to interact directly with the dangerous animals, resulting in the class size dwindling significantly until the last two children push her into a pool of poisonous fishes in self-defense.

    Puppet Shows 
  • This was part of Gary's "tragic backstory" in Team America: World Police. When he was a kid, he and his family went to the zoo and he was fooling around on the railing over the gorilla exhibit and fell in. Gary's older brother, Tommy, jumped in after him, only for the gorillas to beat him to death to get at the blueberries he had in his pocket.

    Video Games 
  • This is pretty much the entire plot of the indie game, Fruit Mystery, where you feed different foods to zoo animals and read about the catastrophic results.
  • In homage to the storyline mentioned above, The Punisher video game has a level set in a zoo. You can reenact several of the deaths in the story, as well as some new ones like letting a thug killed gouged by a rhino, or tossing one into a tank of electric eels.
  • You can create this in Zoo Tycoon. The goal is normally to keep both animals and guests safe and happy but the potential to let your animals wreak havoc is there. Especially when your animals include dinosaurs.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • A number of Housepets! storylines involve the nearby zoo. One is about a family of Civilised Animal wolves going to the zoo as visitors, and all kinds of confusion resulting.

    Western Animation 
  • In one episode of The Angry Beavers, Norbert gets arrested for a crime Dagget committed and sent to a zoo, which turned out to be a 5-star resort for animals.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang visits a zoo in Ba Sing Se. The animals are all in small cages and the zookeeper explains that the city won't give him any more money because nobody is visiting, so he can't improve conditions for the animals. Aang suggests building a new zoo outside the walls of the city, and offers to take the animals there himself. After all, he's the Avatar, so animals will listen to him! Naturally, Hilarity Ensues as he tries to lead a massive group of wild animals outside of the city.
  • Beavis and Butt-Head join a zoo tour, hoping the guide will talk about the animals "doing it", which she only does after they leave in boredom. While they're in the reptile house there's a momentary power outage that gets them in a panic, and when the lights come back on they're in a compromising position, inadvertently holding each other's... snakes.
  • The Disney short "Pluto at the Zoo" is about Pluto the Pup entering a zoo to steal a large bone from a lion. He runs from habitat to habitat with the bone, getting into wacky hijinks with a mischievous kangaroo joey, a scary-looking but playful gorilla and a bunch of hungry crocodiles.
  • In an episode of DuckTales, the Beagle Boys steal Gyro's furniture mover ray to steal Scrooge's money. Huey, Dewey, and Louie eventually find them but get chased away by the Beagle Boys, into a zoo. Hilarious antics include a gorilla being teleported between two lovers about to share a kiss, and an elephant being teleported in front of an elevator.
  • In The Flintstones, the title family and the Rubbles go to the zoo and of course Fred finds himself in the gorilla cage while everyone is too entertained by him being chased around to help him until Bamm-Bamm gets him out.
  • Grojband: In "Zoohouse Rock", Trina persaudes Mayor Mellow that Grojband are actually musical bears and he cages them as the zoo's newest attraction. Their attempts to free themselves result in a riot where the townsfolk release all of the animals to run wild through Peaceville.
  • Help!...It's the Hair Bear Bunch! focuses on three bears in Wonderland Zoo and the zany antics they create at the ire of their zookeepers.
  • One episode of King of the Hill deals with Hank being raped by a male dolphin at a Sea World-esque park.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • "A Day at the Zoo" features Egghead (the precursor to Elmer Fudd) repeatedly taunting a lion — but also looks at all the other zoo animals as well.
    • "Who's Who at the Zoo" has Porky Pig as a zookeeper at the Asuza Zoo, and has a running gag of a lion waiting for someone or something to show up.
    • Pepe le Pew has two cartoons that take place in zoos:
      • In "Scent-Imental Romeo," Penelope Pussycat poses as a skunk so that she can get an easy meal from the zookeeper. Unfortunately, she attracts Pepe's unwanted advances.
      • In "Wild Over You," an escaped wildcat disguises herself as a skunk in order to ward off the zoo workers trying to catch her. Pepe seems to enjoy being mauled by her.
    • "Tweet Zoo" has Tweety as a rare bird in a zoo, who Sylvester the cat decides to pursue.
  • In one episode of My Dad the Rock Star, Rock and Willy go to the zoo, only for Rock to be mistaken for an escaped baboon, so the zoo workers grab him and toss him into a cage with a bunch of other baboons that all look just like him.
  • Every episode of The Penguins of Madagascar takes place in the Central Park Zoo.
  • A vintage Popeye cartoon has Swee'pea cheerfully running loose among a zoo's animals with Popeye in frantic pursuit. After Popeye rescues Swee'pea, he gives him a cute monkey-on-a-stick toy that makes him scream in terror, just as Olive comes to pick him up.
  • In one episode of The Proud Family, Trudy, Oscar, and Sugar Mama take the twins to the zoo for the first time and Oscar has a few mishaps happen to him, including getting beaten up by a vengeful elephant he use to pick on when he was a kid, and accidentally making a gorilla sick after offering it some Proud Snacks.
  • There was the episode of The Ren & Stimpy Show in which they dressed as monkeys and lived at the zoo.
  • The plot of an episode of The Replacements: Riley replaces the zookeeper with someone who, she thinks, will take better care of the animals. She (the replacement) lets all the animals free. At the end of the episode, the animals are allowed to run free in a Golf Park, making it Hilarity In Golf Parks.
  • The Simpsons:
    • There's the extremely controversial episode "Homer vs. Dignity", where Homer gets molested by a panda. And Reverend Lovejoy rescues Ned Flanders from the baboon exhibit.
    • Another episode has Bart taken in by a mother gorilla in the zoo.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "The Thing", Squidward is transformed into a Smelly (a type of wild animal) following cycling accident and is taken to the zoo after wreaking havoc in Patrick's residence. SpongeBob and Patrick then cook up a scheme to rescue him from his captivity, and after escaping Animal Control, they end up in a jungle-like landscape which is home to several other Smellies.
    • "Who R Zoo?" details SpongeBob and Patrick being banned from the Bikini Bottom Zoo for going into the animal enclosures (the former for fooling around with the animals, especially by getting around the ankle monitor the zookeeper gave him, which would go off if he snuck in again, while the latter got banned on purpose), to which they decides to start their own zoo, with bubble animals.
  • Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales takes place at Megopolis Zoo where the eponymous penguin tries to prove he can do anything man can, only to come up short.
  • In one episode of Timon & Pumbaa, Timon and Pumbaa attempt to free some animals that were captured by zookeeper Quint, getting many Amusing Injuries among the way. Then at the end, they free them (Pumbaa thought the controling machine was a video game and pressed a dial that opened the cages) and get promptly attacked by them.

    Real Life 
  • Several examples of people being killed or maimed by zoo animals through blatant stupidity have made it into the Darwin Awards.
  • Zookeepers take it in stride when carnivorous animals supplement their human-provided diet with whatever wild birds or rodents might wander into their exhibits: while it does put them at some risk of parasites, it's also a serendipitous form of enrichment for such captive predators. To zoo guests, it can look like this trope when a bobcat pounces on a live chipmunk that scurried under its fence or a polar bear drags down a goose that unwisely paused to rest on its exhibit's moat.
  • You can find several stories of orangutans wandering around zoos after having escaped their enclosure, usually without any kind of disruption for the visitors, as those primates are quite gentle. But they are also the master Escape Artists of the animal kingdom; nowadays the way zoos test whether any (air-breathing) habitat is secure is to put an orangutan in it. If it can't get out, nothing can get out.


Video Example(s):


Rhi-No Ya Don't!

Sylvester's disguise as a zookeeper, with which he tries to sneak past the rhino protecting Tweety, works a little TOO well.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / GoneHorriblyRight

Media sources: