There is a pair of devushki who attend the Academy of National Economy where our group attends classes. Either by volunteering or by assignment, they have been leading excursions to various city sites for anyone who wants to tag along. These are extra excursions that aren't included in the price of the program (like the bigger, "official" weekend excursions are), and are generally things like going to some market somewhere or visiting the zoo.
A few weeks ago, we all did indeed go to the zoo. The Moscow zoo is interesting. It is surprising in that they have elephants and tigers and zebras and such exotic animals, but they also have an entire paddock of squirrel cages and a coyote. It was entertaining experiencing the contrast of, for example, rounding the corner from the dolphin tanks to see ducks.
One such experience was when we finally happened upon a monkey cage that contained one whole monkey. Disappointed at the lack of more monkeys, we all turned around to peer into the cage that contained the elusive raccoon. I stood there, observing the raccoons when the devushki came up next to me to take a look.
"Why are there 3 of these and only one monkey?" they began, and then proceeded to exchange words about what the raccoons were doing.
"You know, we have these all over the place in America," I commented.
The devushki looked at me, incredibly intruiged. "You do?!"
Taken aback a bit, I explained, "Er, yeah, they live in forests next to neighborhoods and eat people's trash and make a mess."
They then began to joke about what it must be like to live next to these animals that were here in a cage in the zoo.
I guess it's like how in America monkeys are cute and funny whereas in, say, India everyone hates them and wants them all dead?