Halloween at the Zoo

Casey McKinney


It’s been one of those bag em and tag em days in the news. For starters, the hunt for “exotic animals” in Zanesville. When I first heard this in passing yesterday, flipping the internet, that lions, tigers and bears were on the loose in a place called Zanesville, Ohio, it sounded like a cross between The Wizard of Oz and something from the back story of Harmony Korine’s Gummo or that Flaming Lips song, "Christmas at the Zoo" (except here the animals chose to leave, by nature); in other words, heroic, cute, etc. Then the reality began to sink in with every flip back to Google news and various reports leading to a couple of more fleshed out pieces in The New York Times and the WSJ. The animals including bears, wolves, lions and 18 seriously endangered Bengal tigers (there are only 3000 left in the world), had apparently been set free from a 70 some odd acre impromptu zoo, the scene of what turned out to be one mad heartbroken charismatic cult-esque leader’s suicide tragedy. Then they were hunted down and killed (some caught) by the local Sheriff’s department. I quickly imagined deputies the likes of Barney Fife or Twin Peaks’ love struck dope Andy Brennan on the scene, giddily taking pot shots with their one bullet sidearms until high powered assault rifles were brought in.

According to one source, they tried to use tranquilizer guns on a Bengal tiger, but missed and just made the animal angry. So to protect citizens, Sheriff Matt Lutz and crew made haste with the rest, using full force. Lutz was sickend after all had been accounted for, most killed, some captured. All but one monkey they assumed had been eaten by one of the large cats. I then conjured the thought that an Outbreak scenario could be at play, or The Rise of The Planet of the Apes, and this was the Adam monkey who would eventually seek his revenge.

Apparently revenge was the motive for Terry Thompson (releasing the dangerous "man-eating" beasts on society), who had just finished a year long stint in prison for possession of illegal weapons, a time in which he believed his wife had been cheating on him. Oh lord. There are certain episodes that strike the public’s consciousness that are similar to this. But they are different.

Usually they involve the mass slaughter of human beings, as in Columbine, or Virginia Tech, or recently in Norway. A kind of “… Most Dangerous Game” (see the short story by Richard Connell). But this is way more disgusting. Mainly because of lax oversight of the keeping of “exotic animals,” and because animals have no voice in the matter (nor do kids, really). And such incidents prove they do not belong locked away (in rural Ohio) far from their native habitats. As bad as it is in say India for Bengal tigers – poaching, opportunists, the same kind of ugliness reared its face here [http://abcnews.go.com/US/zanesville-carcasses-hunted-exploiters/story?id=14779535], with local preserve owners contacting the Sheriff’s office inquiring about taxidermy rights.

As the (ho hum) Republican presidential debates continue and Ohio is a bell weather state, I wonder if Herman Cain will have as much tactless Tea Party rhetoric on this matter as he does with such issues as gay rights and abortion. To be continued…

Then we get pictures of Libyan despot Momar Qaddafi dragged through the streets of his hometown. His ashen, lifeless face smeared with blood resembling clown makeup, looks like the corpse of the Joker in the last Batman, or more intimately the deceased Heath Ledger.

It’s a pathetic denouement for a vlle villain in great sunglasses many would love to see brought to justice. But is this justice, without the courts? It takes away from a lot of careful hard work and lives lost to see that carried out without international juris prudence.  A golden pistol he waved though, and begging for his life kind of denudes those thoughts. Still, we are civilized or are we are not? We are human, or we are not. Humanity should hold justice in more enlightened esteem. We have a pic of the dead Libyan on the cover of Fanzine for now. Not in celebration. But in equal meat-media disgust.

Danny Jock’s drawing above elucidates the ideal of the suicidal owner of his animals. That he was a Noah, seeking revenge on society. It is ironic, but the least one can say of that tragedy.

-Casey McKinney