Comedian Jerry Seinfeld got himself into a little trouble a while ago for dismissing the notion that he should have racial quotas on his Web TV series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. His response, was “You’re funny, I’m interested. You’re not funny, I’m not interested.” (Talking points,” The Week, Feb. 21/ 14, pg 15.) Some people accused Seinfeld’s idea of what’s funny as being too tied to his culture, a white male New Yorker and accused him of racism. But of course, humor is all about culture. I learned this lesson when I lived abroad for a few years. “The Goon Show,” and “Monty Python” were staples in England but it took me at least a year to understand the beauty of wildly abandoned lunacy.
Humor, after all, is what we say it is. I don’t know whether or not penguins are inherently happy, but Disney has taught us to think of them as such. Perhaps it’s their gait, their seemingly smiling faces and the way they cavort before the cameras in travelogues. Imagine my awakening when I read that penguins in one British zoo are sometimes fed tranquilizers to help them cope with depressions brought on by torrential rains. My first thought was, “How human.” My second thought was why should penguins be prisoners of a British zoo in the first place.
Zoos in themselves are a paradox. They purport to be institutions of education and research with a mission to keep certain species from becoming extinct. But Zoos created markets for wild life in the first place and encouraged poaching to fill their exhibits. What’s more too many animals in their care become neurotic. Lions, tigers, elephants roam hundreds of miles in their native habitat. A cage with an outdoor viewing area is no substitute for life in the wild. Rather than “preserve” species, zoos should join the struggle to preserve habitat.
Recently, in Copenhagen a young, perfectly healthy giraffe, affectionately known to zoo visitors as Marius, was killed by zoo keepers because his genetic history made him undesirable for breeding. (Ibid, pg. 6). Not only was he killed but as part of the education program, the animal was drawn and quartered in public view.
Why zoos should have breeding programs for giraffes escapes me. When did they become an endangered species?
Marius could have found a home. Several zoos offered to take him but the Copenhagen zoo said no. They chose to slaughter the animal. Why? According to them, the other zoos didn’t have “the same ethical standards.” (Ibid pg. 6.)
Are you listening, Jerry Seinfeld? Copenhagen just told a joke.
(Courtesy of rantingsfromavirtualsoapbox.com)