Pakeha - Column for 10/14

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh Shit!

"Death awaits you all with nasty, big, pointy teeth"

Sometimes I have to wonder what version of reality people are living in. Little blips like people who wear Lycra while doing something other than exercising and microcephalics who find Tom Green amusing give me pause. However, these are fairly harmless, at least in a physical sense. What really starts my cerebrum aching is trying to fathom what sort of brain fart, Blue Screen of Death moment it takes to climb into an animal's enclosure at a zoo. In my own experience, I remember the gorillas at the San Diego Zoo. Their expressions read something like: "Come on! I dare you! Just one of you pink monkey muthafuckas gets in here and I'll show you who's king of this freakin' jungle."

Unbelievably, many folks have overcome fences, moats, and basic survival instincts in order to get up close and personal with a really boggling array of nasty beasties.

The most recent episode to pop my brain breaker: a Ukrainian woman is mauled after attempting to cavort with a mother hippo and her baby. Now, it helps to know that hippos kill more people in Africa than any other mammal. The only animal that kills more folks is the crocodile. Even if I didn't know that, hippos are freakin' HUGE. One look at the real thing erases all Disneyfied images of mincing, pirouetting hippos from my mind. A hippo wouldn't even have to bear any malice against a person to do some serious damage. Just a gentle shift in its tons of bulk could turn a person into a greasy stain on the floor.

Another fine example of boneheadedness presents itself in Sharon Stone's hubby, Phil Bronstein. It seems that Mr. Bronstein had a dream, a dream that must come to those who spend too much time in Hollywood shtupping Sharon Stone: he wanted to experience a close encounter with a Komodo dragon. His loving wife gave him the opportunity as a surprise Father's Day gift. Apparently, zoo personnel reassured Bronstein and Stone that the lizard was very mild mannered, that children "pet" the reptile. (Two things here: 1. Screw detention. If you piss off the teacher you'll be sent on a "field trip" to the zoo and locked in a room with a Komodo dragon. 2. Petting a Komodo dragon doesn't sound all that appealing. There are so many reasons why you don't see any Komodo dragons in petting zoos, the least of which it would eat all the damned goats.) There is no way in hell that I would voluntarily enter an enclosure with a Komodo dragon. Something about a ten-foot long carnivorous lizard with claws and bacteria-laced drool turns me off. That Mr. Bronstein wanted to be with the beast just blows my mind. That Mr. Bronstein was barefoot in the cage with the lizard makes me want to stretch my nostrils over my head in vexation. How can anybody be surprised that the lizard mistook Bronstein's tootsies for a between-meals snack? How could anyone disregard the fact that a Komodo dragon is a giant, scaled eating machine? It's like diving into a shark tank or licking an electrical outlet: bad things are gonna happen.

And don't forget this equation: lame stoner dude + orca = floating, dead, lame stoner dude.

Then there's that furry folk hero of the Last Frontier, Binky the polar bear. The Anchorage Zoo's first mistake was probably not naming him something like "Satan" or at least "Binky the Renderer of Flesh". Poor Binky dealt with two bouts of brainless monkey stupidity in his twilight years. In the first incident, a woman, an Australian tourist, climbed over two sets of safety rails to get a close-up photo. Binky, weighing in at a svelte 850-pounds, stuck his head through the bars and grabbed her in his jaws. She escaped with a broken leg and bite wounds. Another visitor caught the scuffle on videotape, including a shot of Binky pacing around his pen later with the woman's running shoe in his mouth. To the end of his days, Binky kept that sneaker as a trophy. One of the local fire departments even printed "Bad as Binky" T-shirts with a drawing of Binky, sneaker in mouth.

Six weeks later, our hero was back on the front page. Two Anchorage teenagers decided, apparently after a long night of drinking, to take a dip in the pool Binky shared with his furry companion, Nuka. The pair of numskulls snuck into the zoo and were stripping down in front of the cage when Binky locked his jaws onto one of them. The teen was pulled away by his friend, but not before Binky had left him with leg injuries. Sadly, Binky passed away a few years later, never having actually took anybody out of the gene pool.

One account that ends a little more happily involves two drunk dudes at an Indian zoo and a tiger appropriately named "Shiva", as in "Shiva the Destroyer". These two guys got the idea into their alcohol-soaked brains to put a wreathe around the tiger's neck. The tiger, probably more annoyed that anything, started chewing on one of the dorks. The other idiot, in a bout of selfless bravery, started kicking the tiger in the face to save his pal. Not surprisingly, the tiger didn't appreciate such treatment and killed the kicking dude with a single chomp to the neck.

So, instead of being amazed and disgusted by such stupidity, I should actually be rooting enthusiastically for the beasties. I wouldn't be rooting from PETA's position of animals exacting revenge for bad treatment, which, of course, is insanely anthropomorphizing. Instead I would be cheering for the animals acting to cull those of persistent, flagrant stupidity from our ranks. Heck, maybe someday we'll see a "Children's Play Area and Anaconda Habitat" at a zoo near you.


Columns by Pakeha