hippo

As a young boy growing up in Jamaica, before the Internet and cable television with more than 13 channels, I  spent a significant amount of time out in the yard trying (and most often failing) to stone lizards. Thankfully , my days of intentionally harming animals have long since passed. Unless it’s mosquitoes, what with them being transmitters of death and whatnot. Plus there’s the satisfaction of annihilating them with the zapper.

I’ll admit, I’m sometimes tempted to revisit my savage youth when the three dogs here at my house decide to launch an assault on my ears with a cacophony of barking, yipping, growling, guttural yaps and worst of all, a high pitched hybrid whimper-howl that all but makes my brain explode.

After the smallest (yet somehow loudest) of the dogs, who also seems to be the conductor of this hellish orchestra, took a vacation at the vet following accidental ingestion of some brownies, the two day relief from the racket was bitter sweet. The silence was golden but the thought of a dog dying from chocolate poisoning is not pleasant. I’m glad he recovered even if normal service has been resumed and I inch closer to shoving a screwdriver in both ears.

Dogs may have plummeted down the pecking order of animals I love, now below any creature that is relatively quiet, but I’m not about to start throwing rocks at them.

So it boggles my mind when I read a story about a group of troglodytes breaking into a zoo and beating and stabbing a helpless hippopotamus which would eventually succumb to his injuries (full story). Or when poachers, as if it’s not bad enough that they’re murdering animals in the wild, decide to break into a zoo in France and kill a young, endangered white rhinoceros then cut off its horn with a chainsaw (full story). The horn will likely be sold on the black market for thousands of dollars as it supposedly contains aphrodisiac qualities and even cures cancer. Get to fuck!

I just can’t fathom how you see something like a hippo or a rhino or a lion and do anything but marvel at these behemoths.

Taken during my trip to Barcelona Zoo last year. This guy probably won’t win any awards for intelligence. Then again, I watched him rub his horn on the branch for 10 minutes.

In the middle of writing this post I’ve discovered that a Czech Zoo responded to this tragedy by sawing off the horns of all its rhinos to act as a deterrent to poachers. Splendid.

Targeting zoo fauna seems to be a disturbing new level of inhumanity but barbaric acts against animals are nothing new and probably aren’t disappearing any time soon. There’s the annual whale slaughter in the Faroe Islands (The Grindadráp) where the animals are funnelled towards the beach and locals sever their spines and major arteries with lances causing the water to turn red with blood. A similar massacre takes place every year in Japan.

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Shark finning, contributing to 100 million deaths per year, is used to provide the main ingredient for shark fin soup. The fins are sliced off while the shark is still alive and the rest of its body thrown back in the water where it dies by drowning or being slowly eaten by other fish. At least the Faroe Islands folk need the whale meat to survive while shark fin soup is a merely an Asian luxury dish.

Of course there’s the lucrative trophy hunting business perpetuated by Americans whose dicks obviously don’t work so they get their rocks off by shooting unsuspecting animals. Just have a quick look at this article here which describes the utterly traumatic experience for the lion – a close range shot from a high powered rifle jolting the lion onto its head. The article also provides the following statistic:

A new report by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) says in the decade between 2004 and 2014, 1.7 million animals were killed for their “trophy”.

At least 200,000 of them were threatened species such as elephants, rhinos or lions.

What do the poachers and hunters propose to do after they’ve wiped these animals off the earth? They’ll start going after each other with any luck.

I suppose I’m being a bit hypocritical as I continue to stuff my face with beef, pork and chicken even with the knowledge of the atrocities that take place in slaughterhouses. As if cows aren’t just as important as elephants if not quite as majestic. But their meat is a proven source of nutrition for us not some cockamamie medicine or delicacy. I’d love to become vegetarian one day or, if not, I’m all for genetically grown meat. My ideal option though is simply a drink, like Soylent, that contains all the nutrients of a full meal because chewing has become tiresome for me in my old age. As far as I know, it’s not yet available in Jamaica unfortunately.

To wrap up, I’ve been thinking about what punishment would be suitable for these butchers, in particular, the hippo killers. I say lock each of the perpetrators in a pit with five or six of the barrel-shaped beasts, this time without any weaponry, and we’ll just see how it pans out. Keeping in mind, hippos are in the top 15 most dangerous animals on the planet. They are very aggressive towards humans – almost as if they know we are awful – and kill around 500 a year. But that’s nothing compared to the numbers mosquitoes and humans themselves put up.

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