In the heat of the moment, while the country is heaping much-deserved blame upon Senator Ted Cruz for forcing a government shutdown and mourning the resulting loss of the nation's premiere panda cam, it can be easy to lose sight of the hundreds of thousands of rank-and-file federal employees whose jobs -- and paychecks -- have temporarily disappeared.
Not for the Dallas Zoo, which knows how bummed all those furloughed workers must be, hence its announcement on Facebook late this morning:
FEDERAL EMPLOYEES: We appreciate the work you do for us every day, and regret the upheaval in your lives due to the government shutdown. We'd love to have you visit today -- just show your federal ID at our ticket booths for FREE admission. Thanks for all that you do!
"Thanks guys... I'll be by this week...." a man named Alan Litt wrote in response.
The zoo's social media team promptly set him straight:
Hi Alan - Our hope is that they work out the shutdown issue quickly. At this point, we are offering the free admission for today only. Hope you can still come out to see us. Thanks so much!
They did the same with Lori Gaston, who promised to bring "a bunch of us from Sheppard AFB up in Wichita Falls" on October 5, if the offer still stood.
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Lori, it's just for today at this point. We're hoping this shutdown gets worked out soon!
And so on.
The zoo's dewy-eyed optimism is almost as adorable as those frolicking cheetah cubs. Unfortunately, there's little to be optimistic about. Here's NBC political analyst Chuck Todd predicting that, short of a miracle, "we're probably looking at shutdown thru the week, possibly merging w/debt ceiling 10/17."
After that, the country will plunge headlong into a post apocalyptic free-for-all which, in a turn of events too convenient to be mere coincidence, tea partiers will be best equipped to endure. The Dallas Zoo will remain a pleasant diversion from the roving bands of cannibalistic Harley riders, but federal employees, whose jobs were permanently furloughed when the U.S. became a failed state, will have to pay full price, just like the rest of us.