When Zoos Go Too Far

It’s been a while since I ranted. At least I think so… admittedly, my brain can be a sieve sometimes. At any rate, I guess it’s about time for another one … and on one of my favorite topics too, one with which I have a love-hate relationship.  Namely, zoos.

When do zoos go too far?  What is the magical line between research, conservation, and exploitation?

There are two types of people; those who love to go to the zoo to see animals they will never otherwise see in real life, and those who despise seeing majestic animals behind bars.  In my experience, there really is no grey in this one; you either love it or hate it.

April the giraffe became a world-wide celebrity a while back.  The world watched daily, heck several times a day, as she waited to give birth to her calf.  Make no mistake, I count myself among that number. Her due date came and went, and still we watched.  Finally, her calf, a male named Tajiri, made his adorable wobbly legged entrance into the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York, and people watched as April tirelessly cared for her newborn son.  Then, as suddenly as she broke into fame, April was largely forgotten…but not before bringing in a pretty hefty revenue stream to the for-profit theme park where she lived.

April is now pregnant again, and I am pretty sure the zoo will once again cash in on her experience.  But what of the now forgotten Tajiri?  Well, according to this, he is now one year old and he will be loaned out to other zoos for their giraffe breeding programs.

I am enraged at this entire venture.  For one thing, with all the funds April raised for the zoo, you would think she deserves an updated pen.  Instead, they took “her” money, applied it to other areas of the zoo (not necessarily habitats), and now need more money to upgrade the giraffe section.  Only once they have earned the money to do the updates for the giraffe pens, will April be reunited with her calf.  God only knows what they plan to do with her current calf when she is born.  Holy exploitation, Batman!

Most deliberate zoo breeding is strictly for money.  The surplus animals are sold to other zoos, roadside zoos (which are a whole different class from “regular zoos” and a rant best left for another time), fake safari parks, and reports have been made that some unfortunate animals are sold for “canned safari hunts.”

To me, this is all just another example of using animals without regard for them.  April’s pen is badly in need of an update, yet they bred her again?  Just like some rescue facilities that have too many dogs, cats, horses, or whatever they cater to, if a zoo cannot take care of the animals they have they should stop bringing in more animals, and for God’s sake, stop breeding them.

Admittedly, some parks and zoos do keep animals for conservation and research purposes … there are some very good to excellent facilities around the country. Others, however, keep animals in unnatural, inhumane conditions, and then are shocked when these animals are unpredictable, or worse, (*gasp!) act like animals.  It’s not rocket science, folks.  Elephants, whales, lions, heck even penguins were not made to be penned for someone’s amusement.  Personally, I think it has the potential to drive the animals insane. Regardless of your views on zoos, surely, we can all agree that when these animals are placed in zoos, they become our responsibility.

Part of that responsibility is to make sure that conditions for these animals are as good as they can possibly be, not to keep breeding more animals into a bad situation to make simply money for the organization.  It’s funny to me, the people who protest puppy mills, where dogs – both female and male – are kept in horrid conditions and continuously bred for money, are probably the first ones sipping a slushee in front of the giraffe pen at the Animal Adventure Park.

As for April’s newest pregnancy, consider this:  if we follow her latest experience, are we part of the problem?

 

 

Game Night

Did I die and go to heaven?  Is there a game that covers my two personal geek niches, trivia and horror, at the same time?  Well, yes, yes there is.  Here it is. One hundred years of horror! Sign. Me. Up.

You may not realize this, but 1981 was a great year for nerds.  This epic year saw the release of Trivial Pursuit (thank you Canada!), the game that allowed us to shine. Cut us some slack; chances are, if we were masters of Trivial Pursuit, we didn’t have a whole lot of outdoor sports skills available to us.  The game itself was originally released in 1979 … but it took a couple of years for it to catch on and catch on it did. It has since exploded with a litany of variations: Star Trek (lucky UK!), Baby Boomers, Lord of the Rings, Silver Screen, and even a Book Lovers edition, just to name a few.

At the peak of Trivial Pursuit’s meteoric rise – between 1983 and 1986, I was lucky to be surrounded by other nerds, and we threw intimate parties to showcase who knew the most about nothing at all.  We took this seriously, and generally divided ourselves into teams: the classic boys vs girls, with the boys excelling in the sports category while the girls swept the rest.  I think it goes without saying that alcohol was a part of these parties, but my memories are of good friends and good times.  At least I think that’s what I remember; like I just said, alcohol played a part of the gatherings.

Trust me, the apple didn’t far fall from the tree… at least in so far as gaming goes (remind me to tell you about my mother’s addiction to the original Mario Brothers sometime). Like most of us in days gone by, my family had game nights.  Today’s kids will never know the joy of bankrupting your brother in a rousing, friendship ending game of Monopoly.  My parents taught us card games like Hearts, and a quirky little game called I Blew It (back off, guys, it was just a dice game).  Then, geeks and nerds everywhere rejoiced with the release of Trivial Pursuit, and my family was right there with the best of them. We were able to showcase our knowledge of state capitals, obscure authors, foreign etiquette, and bizarre scientific facts.  Take that, jocks!

I still love Trivial Pursuit and it’s new-age ilk … I have an unrepentant addiction to the aptly named TriviaCrack.  My brain isn’t full of many useful things, but by golly, I can tell you that John Tyler was the tenth president of the United States, that the first letter on a typewriter is Q, that Yankee Stadium is the House that Ruth Built, and that amoebas can group together and form something called a slime mold.

At the same time, anyone who would be so inclined as to check my Netflix lists would think I am slightly, or mostly, unhinged by my “recommended” movies and watched list.  Goofy monsters, slashers, aliens, and ghosts; if its creepy, I’ve watched it three times. I am nothing if not a horror aficionado.

Now, Trivial Pursuit has raised the bar with a horror movie edition. Horror trivia? Be still, my heart.

I can’t recall where I am supposed to be tomorrow at four (but I know it’s someplace important), what I had for breakfast, or what I did last night, but I can sing every word to the creepy “One, two, Freddie’s coming for you” song and I just happen to know the best-selling fiction book of all time.  Hint: it’s Don Quixote. 

In a world where walking fast is an Olympic Sport, I want to find a way to make money playing Trivial Pursuit, the Horror Edition.

Be Kind

As we face another year and another sad anniversary of those tragic events in September 2001, we’re haunted by the past even as we contemplate the future. There is now an entire generation to whom 9/11 is just a historical blip in our country’s rich tapestry, a reverent story, tinged with anger, told and retold by parents and grandparents and teachers. Life moves forward and I suppose, that’s as it should be.

One thing we should all remember, in a world full of uncertainty, be kind… and always hold your loved ones close — whether it’s in your arms or in your heart.

 

Late Night Thrills

Be decadent for once, they said. Take your shower at 11:30 at night they said. It’ll be relaxing they said. Yeah, well, I wasn’t expecting an eight-legged shower mate who just so happened to lose his footing (I mean, really??) in the sudden onslaught of water or thought to himself, “Hey, you know what would be really funny!? If I jump on this naked human’s shoulder and freak her the hell out.”

Who’s relaxed now!? Not me. And I’m pretty sure not the spider.

Just for clarification … I did not, in fact, wash the spider down the drain. He remains in my bathroom, somewhere, probably muttering to himself and anyone who will listen about “that crazy woman” he just encountered and warning others of my existence.

Getting Ghosted Every Day … and Loving It

Well, everyone, she’s back.

As you may recall, Amethyst Realm, a reported spiritual counselor, has been in a super intense relationship with a ghost she met in Australia.  They have been dating six months.

I will give you a minute to go back and read that again so you’re up to speed.  Done?  Ok, let’s move on.

Amethyst can’t see her boyfriend, obviously, cause he’s…well, you know, a ghost.  But hey, she knows he’s there.

Now, as you can imagine, I have a few questions.  As a spiritual guidance counselor, is she counseling her boyfriend?  If so, isn’t that an ethics violation?  At the least, I would think it would be a conflict of interest. But, I digress.

In 2017, Amethyst was even slut-shamed for having sex with twenty ghosts.  One ghost, however, really tickled her fancy, among other things he reportedly tickles.

Amethyst explains in a recent follow-up interview that she and her ghostly boyfriend are going to be married and raise a ghostly family.  I personally haven’t received my invisible wedding invitation; still waiting on that one.

As for the ghostly family? Well, she has decided, in a wisdom far beyond most cantaloupes, that “phantom” pregnancies are fathered by ghosts.  Phantom pregnancies are, of course, a heartbreaking syndrome where a woman’s body begins to simulate a pregnancy that isn’t real, showing all the symptoms of a true pregnancy. There could be any number of reasons why this might happen, none of them good. Amethyst believes that phantom pregnancies are exactly what they sound like, phantom induced.  Amethyst has been avoiding her ghostly birth control, hoping to get knocked up by her ghost boyfriend.

Why would her imaginary boyfriend want to be tied down by an imaginary baby?  It’s a sure bet he’ll just disappear when the baby is born, leaving her with imaginary diapers to change all by herself.  She’d better get that imaginary ring, and fast!

On a sobering note, Amethyst really believes her story with all her heart.  She came clean after being dumped by a boyfriend, so one must think the break-up affected her deeply.  She has sworn off real men for life, preferring her invisible men to human companionship.  I feel her pain, but she has taken this just a step too far.

You know, I’m not even necessarily saying that ghosts aren’t real; perhaps they are.  What I am calling total BS on is that they would be capable of impregnating anyone (okay, so yeah, that might be an obvious deduction).

For argument’s sake, let’s just say that she’s right, and she does get pregnant by her ghostly boyfriend.  What an odd scene at the hospital on the day of delivery!

Nurse:  Here he is, he’s beautiful.  (pretending to be holding a baby)

Amethyst:  Are you stupid!?  He’s over there!  (points at the chair next to the nurse)

Nurse:  Can you have the father sign the birth certificate, please?  (holds pen towards the corner of the room)

Amethyst:  Are you blind, woman!?  He’s right here sitting on the bed!

Nurse:  Your total bill will be $50,000.  How would you like to pay that?

Amethyst:  My imaginary insurance should cover this, but if not, here’s an invisible credit card.

Nurse:  I can’t see the father’s signature on the certificate.

Amethyst:  Of course not, he used invisible ink.

The fun would continue through the child’s first year of school, where he was repeatedly marked “absent,” all the way to his prom, where his date cried because she thought he stood her up even though he was waiting inside the invisible limo.

Graduation would be tricky; the video cameras would only show a small orb flitting across the stage to get his invisible diploma.

Perhaps one day, he would meet someone, too.   He’ll introduce her to the joys of ghost sex, and the cycle will continue.

Frankly, Amethyst, I am intrigued and more than a little jealous.  Getting ghosted doesn’t mean the same thing for you as it does for the rest of us, you can sneak him into movies for free, and you don’t have to worry about washing his clothes.

Not to mention, your life is planned out perfectly with your ghost, and I can’t even get a date for Friday night.