I am a huge fan of the Birmingham Zoo. I ride the train, see the elephants stand, ride the train, visit the tiger wondering how anyone ever survives a tiger attack (The size of the paws!), ride the train, watch the spider monkeys almost fall, ride the train. “Daddy, the train! Can we ride the train again? Please? Please? Please?” I worry about the organizations finances in hard economic times, well aware that they rely on donations to supplement the money provided by the state, county, and city.
It saddened me to learn of the recent death of Edward, a three year old giraffe. He was with other giraffes in the zoo’s Giraffe Encounter when he fell, suffering a compound fracture to his back right leg. It was deemed that the animal would not recover. He was euthanized.
Was an opportunity missed? Certainly the opportunity for high dollar donations was a consideration. The corporate tables alone would have brought in enough to gild the many benches along the zoo paths. A local celebrity factor would no doubt be attracted to the
event. Local chefs would collaborate and insist on “authentic” South African techniques, maybe a Kenyan twist, and no doubt sultanas and unleavened bread would make an appearance. But this opportunity to try something rare and exotic would be allowed to pass. The regular benefit patrons could be counted on to make an appearance, including members of Birmingham’s altruistic Jewish Community. The once in a lifetime aspect might have attracted a fringe element, but this would be a charitable event and not a fit occasion for putting on airs.
I for one am glad that the decision that was made was made despite the fact that the animal didn’t die from disease or otherwise seem to pose a health risk. I’m glad that the wine distributors of Birmingham were not asked to give, as they have countless times in the past, cases upon case of wine to a worthy cause. We can hold our heads up relatively high and say, “No, we did not.” I am especially glad that a successful giraffe fete did not result in a series of “accidents” in other animal enclosures followed by equally lucrative high ticket dinners.
Naturally there are rumors of all Zoo Board Bachanalias and blood rituals followed by a pot luck barbeque with blue tongue sandwiches for leftovers, but that is always the case in such matters and what of it. They work hard to keep the train running. Give them their due.