Caution – Rant Ahead

Do any of you remember when I wrote about Marius, the giraffe in the Copenhagen Zoo that was killed when he was only 2 years old because he was deemed to be “surplus” If not, I urge you to click on this link for a refresher. If you don’t have the time to read the full article, here’s the short and sweet version: The Copenhagen Zoo encouraged their giraffes to breed…lo and behold Marius was brought into the world. However, after zoo doctors found Marius’ genes to be too common (common, not inbred) for breeding, they shot him in the head, dissected him in front of a crowd (of mostly children) and fed his meat to lions. Who cares that nearby wildlife parks offered to take him off their hands? Who cares that there was a public outcry? Who cares that it seems hypocritical that a breeding program would decrease the population of a species it is trying to save? And what about the four lions who ended up feasting on Marius’ remains — which included two young cubs — this same zoo killed them not long after they offed Marius, because they had to make room for just one incoming alpha male?

Who cares about those trivial little questions? Well, let’s just move on to what’s going on at the Copenhagen Zoo NOW, shall we? Oh look, a brand new baby giraffe was just born there (in September 2016). Yes, you read that correctly. A mere two years after one giraffe was killed because he was a “surplus animal” the zoo breeds another of the exact same animal. You’d think this means that they have their surplus problem all figured out and this latest birth is guaranteed a long, healthy life. You would think that, but you’d be wrong. As a spokesman for the zoo states, there’s no guarantee that this new baby giraffe won’t end up with the same fate as Marius. They’re admitting that, yeah, they might kill this one-off as well if things don’t work out the way they want them to.

But that may not happen. This giraffe might make it to the ripe old age or 3, 4, maybe even 5! It just won’t be at the Copenhagen Zoo. When the little guy hits 2 years old he might get shipped off to another zoo like a product ordered off Amazon. Although that’s not a guarantee.

Don’t get me wrong. I firmly believe that there are some zoos that do a great job at saving endangered animals, but it’s a Catch-22 because most zoos, as they are now, are simply not great for the animals. They’re having success in breeding, but look at what the animals are being bred into. They’re pretty much led straight from the womb to a guillotine. You might say this cycle of systematic culling is simply a European practice I cannot abide, but it’s not. Zoos right here in the US regularly sell surplus animals or euthanize them. Which begs the important question, why? Why breed so-called surplus animals in the first place?

Okay, yes, strides for better the treatment of animals are being made. Take circuses for examples. Their animal acts, if not wholly banned, are much more tightly regulated now than in the past. However, Barnum & Bailey just sent their elephants to a “sanctuary” that also happens to run experiments on the animals in the name of science (cancer research). So, while they’re not chained to posts or crammed into claustrophobic train cars or forced to do stupid acts for a crowd, did they really win? Who knows the extent of the research they are subjected to. All I know is that the phrase “testing on animals” rarely means something good is going on. While perhaps the research facility may not be a house of horrors, I can’t imagine it’s as good as living on an actual sanctuary where they have nothing to do but eat, sleep, and be all elephant-y.

Barnum & Bailey got rid of their big cat act, too. Don’t applaud just yet. In an effort to make a final buck on these animals, they’ve been sold to other circuses and events who DO still perform animal acts. God knows what their living conditions will be. So, it’s really just trading one set of terrible owners for another. What gets me is that with all the millions of dollars Barnum & Bailey have made off these animals, they could at least have given them a proper retirement. It’d be a nice way to say, “thanks for making it through the years of abuse.”  But no. Instead, the circus, yet another greedy corporation, milked every last penny they could out of their elephants and the tigers, their well-being be damned.

Say what you will about their diet and environments, but animals in captivity are just that, captive prisoners. When humans decide to interfere with wildlife to such a degree that the animals are entirely dependent, with their very existence depending on the whims of bureaucratic policy, whether it’s a circus or a zoo, then those humans have a solemn responsibility to those animals – their lives should not come down to being deliberately bred into “surplus” only to be cut short or being exploited for a lifetime only to be sold into yet another version of servitude.

At what point are they allowed to simply be a lion, a giraffe, an elephant? By the looks of it, in many cases, the answer is never. To me, that is just an unacceptable answer.

Humble Pie — It’s What’s for Dinner

I think…I just think perhaps…someone is hungry.  And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the troublemaker in the door was the one who put her up to it. Does that make Shaylee the feline mafia boss and the ne’er-do-well on the bed (aka Holly) the minion? These two often have a simple yet civil tolerance for each other — when they work together, it’s time to worry. BUT I’m the boss in this house and I’ll feed the critters when I’m dang good and ready. So there.

Okay…so if you’ll excuse me, I have to go now and feed the critters.

 

 

Sally Squirrel’s Great Discovery

So, awhile back, my daughter Sarah was at the dentist’s office and while I was waiting with her in the treatment room for her to recover from the anesthesia, I made a new friend. She was quite witty and intelligent, and has had awesome life, so I thought I would turn over my blog to her for this evening so that she can tell her story in her own words. I’m not sure I believe everything she told me, but what the hell, you can decide on your own after you hear her side of things.

My name is Sally. Sally Squirrel. I promised that I would write my story simply and humbly, rather than tooting my own horn. I’m a squirrel and I don’t have lips, so blowing any kind of horn is out of the question. Also, I can’t pat myself on the back because my arms are too short and I can’t reach my back.

The day that changed my life began as they all do. I woke up in a tree. The people who own the tree also had a bird feeder full of delicious seeds. They recently let me know that they had a problem with me eating all the seeds by putting a large collar around the feeder. I was forced to scrounge for other things to eat. Acorns were fine, but got rather boring. Also, I had a dental problem that made eating acorns problematic. I have uneven buckteeth that make me look like a tiny rabbit that grew up near a nuclear waste dump.

You see, we squirrels have twenty teeth.  They’re pretty tough and allow us to break open nuts. They don’t wear down.  That’s my problem. I’m stuck with my buckteeth. I’ve even tried chewing on metal poles to wear them down.  No luck. Making things tougher for me is the fact that I love birdseed. Having these big, ugly choppers means that I have to jam the seeds into the side of my mouth.

Back to the day that changed my life. I was scrounging for breakfast. I saw a group of sparrows dancing around on a windowsill, gorging themselves with birdseed. Sparrows are notorious chickens…well, not real chickens.  More like scaredy cats…well, not real cats, but you get it, right? They definitely don’t like a scuffle. I jumped up on the windowsill and began a delightful feast as the sparrows took off.

As I was stuffing some sunflower seeds into the side of my mouth, I looked into the window and saw something that, at first, terrified me. A man in a white coat was torturing a girl who was in a reclining chair. Oh the humanity! I described the terrible scene to a group of squirrel friends that had just discovered the windowsill buffet for themselves. They all fled in terror. But me, I was transfixed.

It was then that I realized that the girl was smiling. The torturer was chatting with her. I couldn’t believe it! I almost dropped my nuts. Looking around the room, I saw figures of happy teeth dancing with toothbrushes. There were pictures of people smiling, showing off their beautiful teeth. I watched in utter fascination as the man in the white coat skillfully worked on the mouth of the little girl.  In no time at all, they were done. The girl got out of the chair and shook hands with the Mr. White Coat. It suddenly hit me! This must be one of those “dentists” I’d heard about. They fix teeth!  I began tapping on the window. They both turned and saw me, they also saw my teeth. I mean, how could they not? Maybe he could help me, I thought.

I frantically pointed to my choppers and then to the dentist.  I tried to give him my best sad squirrel look. The two humans looked at each other and nodded. The dentist opened the window and pointed to the chair. He explained that he was going to put “squirrel appropriate” crowns on my buckteeth. I was ecstatic! Everything went as planned and well, here I am…able to eat acorns and birdseed and the occasional French fry thrown out by passers-by with nary an issue at all.

If I had wi-fi, I’d leave a great review on Yelp for Mr. Dentist. As it is, I just hang out here on the windowsill offering up my story to all who will listen. It’s a good life. And the birdseed is worth it.

Yeah, okay. The wait might’ve been a little long, certainly long enough for me to distract myself with squirrel stories. And before you ask, no, I did not help myself to the nitrous oxide. My brain just entertains itself, sort of like an unsupervised toddler.  But hey, squirrels ARE cute…so there’s that.

Here Lies Trouble

Having just written about villains, I suppose it’s appropriate to come home to this scene. I mean, it’s just my luck, right? Two dastardly miscreants banding together cannot be a good thing, especially for me. The ne’er-do-well has had it out for me ever since I put a baby lock on the treat cabinet, thereby successfully foiling her ongoing thievery. Should I even try to sleep tonight? Or should I just fortify myself with caffeine so that I can keep a hyped-up eye out for trouble? The sad thing is, I’m not sure who is more nefarious…Penguin or the ne’er-do-well (aka Holly).  For all I know, SHE’s the voice whispering evil-nothings in HIS ear, not the other way round. Say a prayer for me, my friends. I’m going to need all the help I can get.