Star Wars Day at the Los Angeles Zoo: Slave Leia Meets Meerkats

Only imperial stormtroopers are so precise.
Only imperial stormtroopers are so precise.
L.J. Williamson

L.J. Williamson
Only imperial stormtroopers are so precise.

Is there any venture that can't profit from a Star Wars tie-in, no matter how tenuous the connection?

Despite the goofiness factor of zoo-hosted "educational" talks about topics like the similarities between koalas and ewoks (Um... they're both fictional? No. They both carry spears? Wrong again. They both have fur? Ding ding ding!), nothing stopped excited children and fanboys alike from stacking into long lines, starting at the Zoo Drive offramp, at the L.A. Zoo's Star Wars day to snap photos with even bigger fanboys and girls than themselves, including members of costuming groups 501st Legion and Rebel Legion.

Slave Leia: not hot. Not hot at all.
Slave Leia: not hot. Not hot at all.
L.J. Williamson

Slave Leia, however, was a free agent. "I'm not part of any group," she said. "I just heard about this event and showed up."

By 8:30 am, the weather was already warm enough to make onlookers stare enviously at Reggie The Alligator as he soaked in his clear, cool, waterfall-equipped swimming pool. Still, the Rebel pilots, Imperial officers, Tie-Fighter pilots, and Stormtroopers soldiered on.

A bit of Star Wars trivia: Stormtroopers, it turns out, have fans in their helmets. And Ewoks have ice packs in their bellies.

Saturday turned out to be one of the hottest days of the year, with the thermometer topping out at over 100 in some parts of town. That meant sweaty fanboys and sweatier Stormtroopers sweltering as they posed for photos with throngs of Star Wars fans. Nearby, bewildered meerkats wondered why no one was paying them any attention.

Yub Nub.
Yub Nub.
L.J. Williamson

Other educational lectures included discussion of the similarities between headbangin' Billy the Elephant and a Bantha, and Jabba the Hutt and a hippopotamus. The zoo missed an opportunity to educate the public about the Sarlacc-infested La Brea Tar Pits, but perhaps that will come next year.

The force is strong with this one.
The force is strong with this one.
L.J. Williamson

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A six-year-old girl in an Ewok costume ducked behind a building and removed her mask, and a zoo official rushed over to remind us that the dark lord explicitly prohibited any photographs of event cosplayers with masks off. So with the terror of a Lucasfilms lawsuit looming, the girls' mother rescinded permission for the photo.

Perhaps cosplayers are much like Darth Vader himself in that regard: they can't survive for long with their masks off.

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Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens

5333 Zoo Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90027

323-644-4200

www.lazoo.org

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