(I wrote this one a while back, about a pair of ridiculous news stories: a mauling death at a European zoo and an announcement by PETA of their new ad campaign, wherein female PETAns would be doing striptease on videos while talking about the horrors of fur…)
Cheetahs Maul Woman to Death at Zoo in Belgium Tuesday, February 13, 2007 BRUSSELS, Belgium — “An animal lover was mauled to death by cheetahs after entering their cage at a zoo in northern Belgium, authorities and zoo officials said Monday. Karen Aerts, 37, of Antwerp, was found dead in the cage, Olmense Zoo spokesman Jan Libot said. Police said they ruled out any foul play. Authorities believe Aerts, a regular visitor to the zoo, hid in the park late Sunday until it closed and managed to find the keys to the cheetah cage. “Karen loved animals. Unfortunately the cheetahs betrayed her trust,” Libot said. One of the cats that killed Aerts was named Bongo, whom the woman had adopted under a special program. She paid for Bongo’s food, Libot said. Animal rights group GAIA called for the immediate closure of the zoo, located 55 miles northeast of Brussels, saying it was unsafe for both visitors and the cats. Rudy Demotte, the Belgian minister responsible for animal welfare, sent a team to investigate.”
My observations: That’s right — there was no foul play. The cheetahs played fair and square. Cheetahs do not betray trust. In fact, they do not betray anything — including their own natures as indiscriminate carnivores. They do not care if you pay for their food; they do not even know if their food is paid for by anyone in particular, or even what paying is. They do seem to know what food is. In this case, of course, the tragic victim paid for the food in an unexpected way. Well — unexpected by anyone with a mental age of, say, under six to nine months. And, despite the alleged facts of the above story, cheetahs do love people. Bongo just marches to a different drum — and now the adopter has become the adoptee.
However, if someone “manages to find” the keys to a cage with wild beasts in it, it might occur to them that there is a reason that they don’t just leave the keys in the lock. Or give the critters their own keys — you know, on a little chain around their spotted, muscular necks, so they don’t misplace them. Or they might even wonder why there’s a lock in the first place. Especially when those kitties are just so darned cute and loveable. Trust me — the cheetahs did not build the cage.
There is in fact some doubt about whether this zoo is dangerous for cats — they certainly must be frustrated (as the world’s fastest land mammals) when placed in enclosures too small to allow them to attain their top speed. It’s like having a throttle governor on your Lamborghini. Nonetheless, this top velocity does not appear entirely necessary when predation involves either A) inert slabs of meat provided by zoo workers, or B) slow-thinking sentimentalist bipeds. In fact, I imagine these cats actually find the zoo not only safe, but much safer and more entertaining than zoos located in, say, South Carolina, where even the hicks know which side of the bars to stay on, and are heavily armed in any case.
For humans, of course, the Belgian zoo seems to function as a sort-of gene-pool filter. Ever notice how there are no dogs that chase cars anymore? Some of them caught their quarry – from the front. No doubt, if the big cats are sentenced to death — which seems somehow unlikely based on a geographical hunch I have — the outspoken members of GAIA (I will not joke about their name, I will not joke about their name) will throw themselves bodily over the cats to protect them and to protest such a vengeance killing over a rehabilitation program. The cheetahs will no doubt eat up any such support.
On a related note, PETA’s new PR strategy of taking off their clothes in public and on their website (I think they’re protesting fur and Kentucky Fried Chicken, not that those two are necessarily related) is perhaps now being mimicked by excited Belgian cats, who have decided to help humans remove their own outer layers –in protest of Anna Nicole’s tragic death. Or maybe, all the furs she had. Either that or they’re protesting Barack Obama. Or maybe they’re supporting him. It’s so darned hard to figure out what those graceful felines are thinking! There is something oddly seriocomic and sadly gauche about a rather dumpy young woman doing a badly choreographed stripshow with a deadly straight face, absolutely and genuinely convinced that men would never look at her for prurient purposes — no, no they just want to watch her slightly giddy face as she speaks breathlessly about the evils of fur. Now, what I want to know is, is this performance going on her resume? (“No, no, not pornography — I’m a feminist, too, you know! — I stripped to save the animals, and millions and millions went to the website to hear me talk about tarsiers in a state of decreasing undress! Or should I say increasing undress? I mean me, not the tarsiers, of course! Um, decreasing redress…? Wait; wait…”) I’m sure Freud would have something to say about her rather moribund unattractiveness, and how that probably lead to a dearth of promising dating opportunities, which undoubtedly caused her sublimated biological desires to redirect towards halting the onslaught of Colonel Sanders, saving the Chinchillas, and raising awareness … about the animals, I mean.
And what about Namibian ringed tree sloths, and the endangered hairy slugs of New Guinea? Why do folks only strip for koalas and cute owls and adorable cheetahs? The moles of Mauritania need you to go natural, too, you know! I reckon that Cheetah had ever even heard of PETA, despite the marvelous internal rhyme. I doubt he would be interested even in their webpage stripteases. These would probably appear to cheetahs sort of like the removal of butcher shrinkwrap from a fine ribeye just before it hits the grill, sizzling. First Cheetah: “Man, that was really good! Tender outside, crunchy center!” Second Cheetah: “Yeah — but I just hate getting all those poly-blend threads in my fangs. Wouldn’t it be great if they’d just strip for the animals???”
Belgians: now, aren’t they one of those quaint European peoples convinced that Muslims practice a great and peaceful religion?