Friday, 24 July 2009

Gorillas in the mist

They admitted later that it was an overreaction. By that time though, there was nothing much that could be done other than sweep up the bones and wonder that the skin had been so completely destroyed. Then people just kept quiet about it until the publicity died down, and soon enough it became just another piece of odd history about the zoo.

It started with a small boy playing with a red rubber ball. The boy threw the ball, attracting the attention of a dog who was being walked by its elderly owner. The owner had the dog's lead in one hand, and a walking stick in the other. Nearby was a young couple with a push-chair containing a child in desperate need of a plastic surgeon and behind them was a small woman with an oversized golf umbrella she was struggling with in the wind. It wasn't raining, so the zoo's lawyers made much of the fact that the umbrella was open and not properly controlled.

The boy threw the ball, which bounced over the fence into the gorilla enclosure. The dog saw the ball and lunged after it, pulling its owner off balance. He fell over, and his stick flew out to the side and caught in the wheels of the push-chair. The chair leapt into the air, throwing the child out. Its mother, a woman who clearly couldn't see that the child landing on its face could only improve its looks, dived to catch the child, caught the push-chair with her hip, and landed heavily after knocking the child back up into the air like a volley-ball spike.
The child's father backed up, trying to catch it, and collided with the midget woman with the huge umbrella. She swung the umbrella to swat him, and the baby bounced off the surface of the umbrella, over the fence and into the gorilla enclosure.

That was when the overreaction happened: the keepers deployed the emergency fire-safety mechanism which sealed the gorilla enclosure and flooded it with inert gas. The newspapers later on described it as being like Auschwitz, which though tasteless was probably true. All the gorillas died, as did the baby.

I, on the other hand, got lovely gorilla-skin rugs for all the rooms in my house.

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