Shutdown, Day 3: The Monkeys Have the Phone Box

3 October, 2013 | | No Comment

“If ‘pro’ is the opposite of ‘con,’ what is the opposite of progress?” – Paul Harvey

03 October 2013, Washington D.C.: As the US Federal Government continues to bicker about how many toppings they want on their healthcare reform, the National Zoo finds itself in the cross-hairs, forced to feed the animals in their care – whatever the cost.

Zoo Ranger and spokesperson Griffin Waccatee, who wishes I’d stop citing her in public, mentioned today that the situation will get even more dire if the government does not re-open before Saturday. “We’re going to need to feed the reptiles eventually,” she said, “and right now, that looks a lot like the lemurs. In the meantime, the regular locksmith is out, and so the Orangutans have popped their locks again and let out all the rest of the primates.”

A brief check of the Monkey House confirmed that all the major primates – High- and Lowland gorillas, Orangutans, and the chimpanzees – had all gathered in the main hall and were working out a set of parliamentary procedures in order to establish a National Zoo Government for themselves. A small faction of the chimps had been holding up the debate, but politely bowed to the majority opinion for the good of the greater nation without conceding their position. They agreed to disagree for the sake of progress.

Over by the zebras was another story of cooperation for a common cause, albeit a less heartwarming one – unless your heart is warmed by watching a pack of hungry alpine dingos bring down one stripy-assed hoofed ungulate after another, pausing only to share the meal with the raptors – which the chimps had let loose in the spirit of bi-partisanship. “God I love nature,” said Elle Fantus, taking a break from monitoring the elephants to catch a quick smoke and watch the terrified zebras run screaming through their small enclosures as the dingos circled around. “Right now, this is the best damn zoo in the world. It doesn’t get closer to nature than this shit, man. I hope they never solve the budget.”

The last stop of the afternoon was at the Zoo’s public relations office, where Mr. Bob Dobbs was busily preparing a flyer. “We’re asking for the public’s help during this time of crisis at the Zoo,” he said. “It’s the chance of a lifetime! Come feed the lions! When do most people get to do that, outside of the Serengeti?” His smile was rather unfortunately feral, even for a PR guy.

When asked if they had reached out to any other zoos, he smiled again. “Oh no,” said Dobbs, “We’re fighting fire with fire. If Congress doesn’t pass that budget in the next few days, the baby panda meets Mr. Lion. Shutting down the government is one thing, but I’m sure no one who votes to kill the little panda will ever hold office again.”

He’s probably right. As I left, I saw four Orangutans circling a payphone and holding their oversized hands in front of their eyes. I’m sure they were trying to call their congressperson, but of course she doesn’t really have a vote anyway.

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