A bit of “true confessions”—I’ve never been a big fan of zoos. Yes, I know this point of view puts me at odds with the views of most people, sorta like my aversion to parades or my general discomfort with magicians. Yes, people, I have my quirks. Perhaps no surprise there...
It’s just that zoos challenge my view of how wildlife should exist. It truly makes me depressed to see elephants fenced in and sedentary, or to see spider monkeys trapped in cages. Even the macaws got nowhere to fly in a zoo. Just sad to me. Is it any wonder gorillas throw their poo? I get it, my silverback friend. Be angry. Toss your mess! Just say no! Cages are for Mel Gibson or Lady Gaga back-up dancers, but not for you!
My aversion to cruelty extends further. I don’t even like riding horses. From my point of view, it’s like a squirrel jumping on YOUR back and poking you in your ribs with his squirrel feet and expecting you to take him somewhere. Crazy squirrel, you’d say. But why less crazy when we do it to a horse? That’s just how I think. Squirrels and horses. I’m kind of a cartoonish visionary.
I understand the philosophical value of a zoo; how it makes kids excited about animals so that they care more about nature when they become adults, or the philanthropic mission of zoos to protect endangered species in the comfort of captivity, away from predators. I get it. I really do. But still. Squirrels and horses and apes throwing poo. Sorta sounds like a party at Charlie Sheen’s when I put it that way!
Now, snakes are a different story. Ask me about keeping snakes in tanks or cages... That, I’m okay with. Get the snakes out of circulation. Somehow, my aversion to caging animals disappears when it’s about caging the scary ones. Yes, I’m a hypocrite. I wear leather and eat meat (or like Gaga maybe I eat leather and wear meat...) But we’re talking about snakes, people. Put ‘em in a parade or pair a snake with a magician and I’m out.
As far as dangerous reptiles are concerned, I think of zoos as the Guantanamo prison of the animal kingdom. Baddies gotta go somewhere, and I’m pretty okay with that.
That’s why I found it shocking, perplexing, and a little unnerving that, last month, a cobra escaped the New York City Zoo. If you don’t believe me, Google it for yourself. I kid you not! Cobra on the loose in NYC.
Not exactly a comforting thought. I’m sure you agree. I’m not singing “Born Free”—I’m just thinking people should consider closed toe shoes this season (that’s a shout out to my gay friends. Hey-ya! Fashion first, kids.)
A snake free to roam, or slither, or hang, or strike somewhere in the city ain’t exactly a good thing. These critters have “hoods” for a reason—they’re the world’s first gangsters, and they know how to use their poison. Ug. And fangs. Double-ug.
Now, a cobra on the loose may live a happy life, feasting on New York rats and staying under the cover of NYC’s underground tunnels. I'm reminded of the legend of New York alligators in the sewers, who they say also live off the rats (rats never get a break, do they?). I can envision a little convention of reptiles in the sewers. Maybe Ann Coulter will be their queen (I know that was catty, but it’s Ann Coulter, people!)—I see Ann dislodging her jaw, licking the air with her forked tongue, and inciting her reptile minions to mischief.
These reptiles, if they can get organized, would really pose a threat. They’d become a cold-blooded union even the Wisconsin governor couldn’t thwart. No collective bargaining there. Humans despair! Bow to the Coulter and her scaly cronies! Where the hell am I going with this...?
Oh, cobras. Right. It was the “scary” part that got me on to Coulter. Either way, I don’t trust ‘em (cobras or Coulter). I can’t figure snakes out. Don’t understand their demands. They’re not as obvious to me as, say, the guy in the truck in front of me this morning on my work commute.
Here’s how obvious he was with his point of view... The dude had 3 bumper stickers:
STICKER #1: The Confederate Flag
STICKER #2: “This truck stops at HOOTERS”
STICKER #3: “Border Patrol – They put the ‘panic’ in ‘Hispanic’”
Kinda obvious how that guy thought. Was it Mel Gibson again? Or maybe it was Ann Coulter. Either way, the driver was no cobra. I knew what s/he thought about and what s/he was after (or at least I could guess). Not sure if I like my racism and sexism so blatant, but at least it’s out there and not something anyone has to stumble across. That was one snake who was out in the open, venom and all.
Muammar al-Gaddafi, the Libyan nut job (that is his official title, right?), is another snake who’s found his way out into the open. Not sure if he has a HOOTERS bumper sticker, but we know what he thinks, too (is it me, or does that guy look like a Halloween costume? Yeek).
The good news is, they caught the New York cobra. Put him back in the zoo. I guess I kinda hope that’s where they put Gaddafi, too. I’d pay to see him there. Maybe he and the cobra could do a show! So long as it’s not a parade or a magic show, I’m buying a ticket.
Whether it’s Coulter, Gadaffi, Gibson, or a racist, sexist, truck driver, I’d rather see my snakes coming than to stumble on them by accident. Then again, maybe they just belong in a zoo.
© 2011, Herb Williams-Dalgart