The circle of life

Recently, on the Internet, that storehouse of all human knowledge, I came across a meme suggesting a gator killed a two-year-old boy in Florida as payback for the shooting of a gorilla at the Cincinnati zoo.

I’m amazed the mainstream media have overlooked this angle behind the death at Disney World last week.

While there has been endless speculation about the nature of the Orlando shooter – ISIS booster, gay hater, repressed homosexual, acolyte of a closeted Muslim president – CNN failed to convene a panel of experts to jabber on the motivation of the alligator.

Cable news obviously lacks a roster of animal psychologists, herpetologists, and Disney animators.

This is puzzling, considering the conceit among Homo sapiens, attributable to a certain Dr. Doolittle, that only our species has the capacity to communicate with critters:

If we could talk to the animals, learn their languages,

Maybe take an animal degree.

We’d study elephant and eagle, buffalo and beagle,

Alligator, guinea pig, and flea.

Those incapable of consulting with bison or beetles nonetheless assign specific character traits to animals with such verbs as: ape, badger, crow, goose, hog, hound, leech, parrot, ram and sponge.

Yet we fail to celebrate the verbal skills of the nouns, though anyone familiar with Disney movies, from The Jungle Book to The Lion King, knows that various species of animals converse effortlessly.

Therefore, it is not unreasonable to assume birds or bugs spread news of Harambe’s death from Ohio to the gator community in Florida. And that members of the animal kingdom were as outraged as PETA, appreciating that Harambe was merely babysitting the three-year-old uninvited visitor in the primate’s home.

“Gorillas have shown that they can be protective of smaller living beings and react the same way any human would to a child in danger,” PETA proclaimed in a press release.

How can you blame animals that act like animals?

Some say eat or be eaten.

Some say live and let live.

But all are agreed, as they join the stampede,

You should never take more than you give.

In the Circle of Life,

It’s the wheel of fortune.

It’s the leap of faith.

It’s the band of hope.

Till we find our place,

On the path unwinding,

In the Circle, the Circle of Life.

When humans intrude, the path can unwind in unexpected directions. Consider my intervention in the circle of life.

It was the early ’90s, and my family – wife Linda, young daughters Jodie and Lacey, dog Jasper – were living in a house west of Toronto, near large swathes of woods and marsh off Lake Ontario.

It was not unusual to be visited by racoons, rabbits, foxes, skunks and other wildlife.

That spring, a young raccoon took up residence in our backyard. There was no sign of its parents or siblings, though the corpse of an adult raccoon was squashed on a nearby road.

Being animal lovers, we sought to care for the orphan. The kids named it Rocky, of course.

The first night, we made a bed of rags for it in a shed.

The next day, I was awaked to shouts of “it’s dead, it’s dead.”

Sure enough, after a night when temperatures dropped precipitously, the creature was frozen stiff.

I prepared a burial plot adjacent to the shed, the raccoon’s final resting place.

When the hole was deep enough, I lowered the remains. The first shovelful of dirt landed on the raccoon’s head.

It blinked.

Then shrugged.

Then rolled around.

“It’s alive, it’s alive,” I shouted.

Before the day was out, Rocky was taking sustenance, mainly milk, and had attached itself to Jasper, our young black standard poodle.

Every chance it got, Rocky latched on to Jasper, and climbed aboard for a doggieback ride.

Jasper, always a sweetheart, was most accommodating.

That night, Rocky bedded down in our basement, in blankets piled next to the furnace.

Dismissing the prospect of permanent adoption, I located a Raccoon Lady, who agreed to add Rocky to her brood.

Perhaps Jasper’s interaction with the raccoon prepared him for the three years we lived on the north shore of Lake Superior, among bears, wolves, foxes, moose, deer, porcupines, skunks, and flying squirrels.

He exhibited appropriate respect, though no fear, of creatures great and small.

When a large black bear prowled our deck one night, Jasper told it to get off our property. He barked a similar reprimand by treeing a smaller bear that trespassed in daylight.

These days, back in the ’burbs, Jasper’s successor, Brady, a white standard poodle, unquestionably the product of an abusive breeder, is afraid of everything, especially men, motorcycles, bicycles, scooters, and people with Eastern European accents.


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