To the Rainforest Room: in search of authenticity on three continents, new at our site,
We walk across a bat guano minefield, through a smaller door next to the garage door, and come upon a wide tunnel ringing the complex that seems straight out of a James Bond film. We’ve dropped into an entirely different realm now. The green EXIT sign, the garage door, and suddenly we’re confronted by, what? No evil henchmen, no jungle drug lab, but wading pools, animal toys, a reverse-osmosis system, and doors that seem like metaphysical portals: one says “South America,” another, “Malaysia.” It’s here in these rooms, the holding pens for the animals, that the pretense of authenticity drops away. These rooms are the Lied Rainforest equivalent of the actor’s dressing room and Morris enters respectfully, not wanting to encroach on the animals’ down time, but also concerned that a Francois’ langur monkey might snatch my glasses. But the black monkey with its bulging abdomen ...