• 27Dec

    Since I’m not yet to the point of starting seedlings indoors, there’s nothing much gardening to clack about. Back to Phil Hendrie.

    Man, that cat sure doesn’t know much about nature.

    I would never in a million years refer to a dude as a cat, but he does it and it makes me laugh. It makes me think of beatniks, pointy little beards and wire-framed glasses.

    I ranted before about his seeming misperception that organic farming was a refusal to use hybrids. I’ve explained why that was incorrect. Last night, he went off on the episode in California where the Siberian tiger escaped, killed a guy and mauled two more.

    I can understand his dislike of zoos. I get that, and even sympathize with his position. I grew up with a mother who launched into a lecture every time we went to the zoo that was similar. She did the same thing every time I wanted to visit Indian reservations and the “freak show” at the carnival. It was rude to stare, and even worse to take advantage of people’s curiosity for profit. (However, she never hesitates to exploit Native Americans by dropping a lot of coins into Native-owned casinos.)

    But I’ve strayed from the subject: zoo animals.

    Yes, one of Phil Hendrie’s guests did an especially moving reading of “How Deeply Oiled is the Oil Bird,” a delightful poem worthy of some kind of poem prize. But he is kind of misinformed about animals in captivity.

    He advocates opening all the zoos and letting them free. (Personally, I fantasize meeting Tippi Heddren and she helps me start a sanctuary of my own, then PETA frees research animals and I take them in.)

    Releasing animals in captivity into the wild is not practical. A bullet to the head would be more humane.

    Animals that are born into captivity are fed by zookeepers. They don’t learn hunting and survival skills and would have a very small chance at surviving amongst their brethren who would likely immediately kill them for invading their territory. If they survived that, they wouldn’t have the skills to hunt and find food. They would then starve.

    It really is that black and white in my world of mostly grays.

    Look at these fools on Survivor, the reality show. Imagine if they weren’t given a staple of rice and told what fish were safe to eat, how to avoid sharks and other predators, what plants were poisonous and so on. Imagine that there were no camera people and other staff.

    Drop one of those city people – or even a chicken farmer – into the middle of a habitat s/he did not know. A jungle, a lovely beach, a desert. Their instinct would tell them to hunt, fish and find water and shelter. But would any of them know how?

    Phil Hendrie and probably countless others think that hunting skills are inborn. They are NOT. Once again, he’s a city boy and hasn’t had the experience of watching a mama barn cat teach her kittens to hunt for birds and mice. They are NOT born with the skills, just as a farm woman isn’t born with the ability to make the perfect apple pie. It’s learned. The tiger has to learn from its mother how to hunt for food. They aren’t given that class at the zoo.

    Additionally, most of those animals aren’t from the wild, they’re born in the zoo.

    Another point: Jack Hanna is always like that. He wasn’t nervous, he was just Jack Hanna, who is kind of giddy. He does a lot for endangered species, kind of like the croc hunter. That guy didn’t just wrestle crocs, he worked hard to protect wildlife. Hanna said exactly what Hendrie said, but Hendrie turned it around somehow (wtf?): a tiger, even though born in captivity, is still a wild animal and has the instinct to attack.

    I don’t know what the story is, and there’s a lot of speculation. With the media, you need to always sit back and give it a couple of weeks while they have their frenzy and spread a lot of rumors.

    My sadness was that the tiger had to die, and there weren’t tranq guns at every corner with trained personnel who could quickly subdue the animal. (I’m also sorry for the dead and injured, though if the speculation turns out to have meat and they were taunting the tiger, then my view will be “one less retard on the planet, it’s a shame it wasn’t more, and too bad the tiger had to be killed.” BTW, I’m on an anti politically-correct rampage and use terms like Merry Christmas and retard these days.)

    A couple of other points about zoos while I’m at it. The Siberian tiger is endangered and there are a lot more in zoos than in the wild. Part of zoo programs is trying to keep these species alive, even though they have to live in zoos. (But kind of like the Muslim woman in a burqa who doesn’t know there’s a big, burqa-less world out there, the captive animals don’t know there’s a more dangerous but freer life. So they don’t miss it.)

    My cousin is in her second year of college, headed to vet school. She has planned to be a vet since she could talk, but her specialty has changed from time to time. She had really been headed down the path of working with zoo animals (because she’s a cat lover like myself, and enchanted by big cats, and I’m sure she’s devastated over the death of this tiger). At her university, they immerse the students in animals stuff from day one so they see if they can handle the icky side. (Her first semester involved sticking her tiny little arm up a cow’s ass and doing an exam. I have pictures of the happy event.)

    So this past semester, she did Captive Animals 101, and it involved a lot of field trips to various zoos around the midwest, going back where the public doesn’t go, and many guest lectures from zoo vets.

    As it turns out, not only is being a zoo vet not a tidy 9 to 5 with holidays off, you don’t get to really spend much time with the actual animals. The biggest part of being a zoo vet is breeding and doing research on breeding.

    So she’s rethinking it all now.

    She didn’t grow up around the farm as I did, since the family farm is now almost a relic. But every farm with cattle knows about the artificial inseminator. That’s the guy that comes around with a container full of bull spooge (and the farmer with the lucky prize bull gets big bucks for that liquid). He sticks HIS arm up a cow vagina and does the deed. That, my friends, is his JOB. No one has ever answered my burning question: how do they get the sample? It’s not like you give the bull a Juggs magazine and tell him to go into the bathroom with a specimen cup. Does the inseminator manually do it? I really want to know, because if he does, it makes the job even creepier.

    That’s life on the farm, sticking arms up cows. And the cows don’t like it either, poor things.

    Jack Hanna has the best job in the world, as far as I’m concerned. He gets to play with all the animals. Watching him with baby tigers and little bear cubs on various talk shows…makes me all teary eyed. But they do grow up into big animals that can and do attack when provoked or threatened. (Doubtful that tiger was hungry; their diets are very scientifically controlled and they do get special treats and “enrichment” fun to keep their minds active.)

    Phil Hendrie might give a thought to animals in a circus. How about shutting down Ringling Brothers? That’s some damn cruelty, making them parade around in friggin tutus.

    I love Phil; I think he’s got to be THE most under-appreciated talent on earth. The guy is a friggin genuis. But this cat needs some nature lessons pronto.

    Filed under: UnGardening

    Posted: December 27, 2007 at 11:43 am

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