August 02, 2016

Source: BIgstock

On assignment in other countries, David Frum would fish out likely friendlies in hotel bars by yelling, “€œIrv Weinstein!“€ Neither Frum nor I grew up in Buffalo, but their local TV stations”€™ signals were strong enough to stretch into southernmost Canada.

I guess if I ever actually left the house, let alone traveled abroad, I could try shouting, “€œMarineland and Game Farm!”€ or sing a slice of its theme song”€””€œNiagara Falls, Ontario! Wonderful place for you to go!”€ A kind of SeaWorld of the north, this attraction’s relentlessly jolly TV commercials have blared in heavy rotation for half the year, every year, since before I was born. (One is literally playing in the other room as I type this.)

In a plastic box under my bed, there’s a snapshot of terrified me, aged around 8, being mugged by dozens of Marineland deer, jostling for one of the tiny cones of chow you”€™d buy from a vending machine. I”€™m somewhat shocked to learn they still sell deer food, let alone have deer. Frankly, I”€™m surprised Marineland exists in 2016, but I also expect that, barring my impending beheading, I”€™ll live to see the place close.

“€œIn the year of Brexit and Trump, why not think big?”€

I won”€™t be brokenhearted. Even as a kid, I was sure those dolphins, seals, and killer whales didn”€™t like doing those dumb tricks, and that sentiment is on the rise. The Toronto Star has been bitching about park conditions for years, but the anti-SeaWorld Blackfish documentary will likely be what bumps it off. Thanks to that film, a generation of children (and their parents) strongly disapprove of these aquatic circuses. This displeasure now extends to zoos generally, either in the name of the animals”€™ well-being or that of their human onlookers. (The latest: “€œSchoolgirl, seven, dies in shocking freak accident after an elephant hurls a ROCK at her head while she was having her picture taken in front of its enclosure.”€)

I”€™m on record as siding more or less with the zoo abolitionists, for the latter reason rather than the former. Some hard cases”€”look at Harambe the gorilla“€”even unite these avowed enemies, amplifying the calls to shut zoos down.

I”€™m unmoved by the right-wing bumpkinry that mocks antivivisectionism, vegetarianism, or veganism as a violation of some imaginary Constitutional amendment. Yes, historically such concerns originated with the Fabian socialists and their ilk, and while they were undoubtedly repellent, the most annoying thing about them was”€”well, look around you, son:

They won.

Pro- and anti-zoo factions have always been around. Sometimes they”€™re even the same people. And the arc (or in this case, Ark) of history is now bowing toward the antis. (Although first we”€™ll see a major city”€”perhaps one in Europe, perhaps San Francisco”€”outlaw pets.)

Inmate breakouts from Toronto’s poky High Park Zoo have become an annual occurrence, and a city still bitterly riven by the memory of Rob Ford is briefly united in cheering for the fugitives.

Having said all that, I don”€™t much care either way if zoos go extinct, but on the topic of enduring if dubious cultural institutions, I am positively praying for the extinguishment of that interminable garbage fire called the Olympics. If you watch the damn things or participate in any fashion, you”€™re abetting sick-making corruption and multilevel misery. As for their supposed reason for even existing: Has anyone else noticed that world peace has declined (to put it mildly) since the inauguration of the modern games?


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