8

The Animal Rights Coalition

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Chester Rabbit called the quarterly meeting of the Animal Rights Coalition (ARC) to order.

Chester: Welcome everyone. We need to finish one item from our last meeting before we can move on to today’s agenda. We have to finish our discussion about how to address the human use of animal names as insults. The first thing we need to do is reopen the topic.

The animals started to talk among themselves. This item was very important to all of them and they were eager to get back to work.

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Buddy Squirrel: I move to reopen the topic.

Ralph Badger: I second the motion.

Chester: All right. How many in favor?

Paws and hands went up around the room.

Chester: How many opposed?

Dead silence.

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Chester: The motion passed. Ballou, please turn on the recorder.

Ballou Bear, whose mother was a huge movie fan, flipped the switch. It was so much easier to get started now that they could record rather than manually write down the notes. The simians had insisted on the purchase. They were tired of always being the ones to write.

Chester: The best way to start is to identify exactly what we mean by insults. Remember the rules: no talking over others, no arguing with someone’s ideas, and no intimidation. One idea per animal. If you choose to present multiple ideas, wait until after the others have had their turn.

The animals quickly lined up to speak:

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“catty/catfight” – Why is it that when two women say nasty things to each other it’s being catty? We’re not mean. But even worse, if they end up actually hitting each other, it’s a catfight? Everyone knows that most of us don’t fight, and if we do, it’s most likely the males.

“eat like a pig/act like a pig” – Where did we get the reputation that we’re sloppy and eat too much? We’re actually clean animals; we use the mud to cool off. And we don’t eat that much compared to what we weight. We’re this big because of the way we’re made, not because we eat too much.

“dog-faced/dog” – Why are we the standard for ugly? We’re just like every other species. Some of us are good looking, some not so much. But to classify all of us as ugly is just mean.

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“eat like a bird” – They say it like it’s some kind of eating disorder. We eat like we do because we have beaks. We can’t pick up a lot of food at one time. We eat all through the day; we need energy for flying.

“ugly duckling” – This insult is just rude. Why would you call someone’s child ugly? We know it’s because the baby swan didn’t look like the baby ducks, but that doesn’t mean it was really ugly.

“batty/bats in the belfry” – What makes us the standard for crazy? We fly at night, but so do owls, and they’re supposed to be wise. As far as hanging out in a belfry, it’s a good place to sleep. It’s high, it’s isolated, and the humans can’t get at us.

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“a leopard can’t change his spots” – Of course we can’t. That would be like asking them to change their skin. Why does that get connected to people who can’t change their bad habits? Our fur is not something that should be changed.

“big as a cow” – we agree with the pigs. Just because we’re made a certain way doesn’t entitle humans to use it to insult other humans. Maybe they should be more like us and just accept each other.

“badger someone” – We’re persistent and thorough. How did that get translated into a person who becomes offensive trying to make a point? It seems like they don’t even understand how any of us really are.

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The other animals all nodded in agreement.

Chester: I think that’s a good start. Now we need a few animals to draft our petition to the humans. Is anyone interested?

A bear, two gorillas, and a beaver all agreed to work on something.

Chester: Does anyone want to schedule an extra meeting for next month to decide what our next steps will be?

Douglas Gorilla: So moved.

Ballou: Second.

The motion passed.

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Next week: Do the animals think the petition is ready to go to the humans?

8

Treat Them Like Animals – Part 2

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Previously – Animals Protecting Animals (APA) has caught a group of poachers in South Africa. They have been taken to APA’s holding facility in the middle of the Sahara Desert to await sentencing by a panel of lions. You can read the rest of the background here.

The following morning, three lionesses arrive. After a brief conversation with Carl, they ask that the defendants be brought to the interrogation room. Carl joins the lionesses to take notes.

The defendants are brought in by Vince and Albert. The camels stay as guards. When the men see that they are going to be tried by lions, they become nervous. They have heard about the poachers in South Africa being eaten by lions.

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Head Judge: Give us your name, age and home country.

Number 98: Mandla, 23, South Africa

Number 99: Adamu, 30, Kenya

Number 100: Narong, 32, Thailand

Number 101: Lamon, 35, Thailand

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The judges confer among themselves.

Head Judge: We would like to know your role in the crime.

Mandla: My family is starving and they told me that they would pay me to show them the way to the park. I left when we got there. They told me they would kill me if I told anyone. I’m sorry I ever took the money.

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Adamu: I was a guard. My job was to kill anyone who tried to stop us.

Narong: I was also a guard. Additionally, I shot some of the animals.

Lamon: I was responsible for removing the trophies from the dead animals.

Head Judge: What happened to the “trophies” after you removed them?

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Lamon: Narong and I smuggled them out of the country and sold them on the black market in Asia.

Head Judge: What did you do with the money?

Lamon: We needed the money to pay for personal expenses.

Head Judge: Did you send any of the money back to Adamu or Mandla?

Lamon: No. We paid them before we left. We consider them a cost of doing business in Africa.

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Head Judge: Adamu, did you need to shoot any humans?

Adamu: No. We didn’t run into any humans.

Head Judge: Did you kill any animals?

Adamu: No. My job was to stand guard.

Head Judge: Take them back to their cage.

Vince and Albert return the poachers to the tent. The judges talk over what they have heard. They reach a decision on each of the defendants and Carl writes down what they decide. He brings the defendants back to the interrogation room.

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Head Judge: We have come to a decision on each of you. Please step forward when I call your name. Mandla, you’re first.

We have taken your circumstances into account and given you a lenient sentence. You will spend 30 days in our facility in South Africa with leopard guards. Then you will become a paid apprentice at the animal reserve. You are not allowed to carry a gun for two years. If you successfully complete your probation, you will become a full officer with all privileges.

Mandla: Thank you for the opportunity.

Head Judge: Use it well. You won’t get a second chance.

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Adamu, please step forward.

We were not as lenient with you. All that kept you from killing was circumstance. You were lucky that no one came near your group. Regardless, you were a lesser player in the crime.

Therefore, you are sentenced to 15 years in our central Kenya facility with lions as your guards. You will be near your family. Use your time to find another profession.

Adamu: Thank you Judge.

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Head Judge: Narong and Lamon, please step forward.

Honestly, we could not find anything redeeming in any of your actions. You are sentenced to life in our Siberian facility. The tigers only get our worst cases, so you will be with good company.

Narong: Don’t Siberian tigers eat people?

Head Judge: I haven’t heard of it happening at our facility, but I suppose it’s possible. I would be on my best behavior, just in case.

The judges leave the room. The prisoners are led back to the tent to await transportation to the various facilities.Image result for siberian tiger

9

Peacock in the City

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We are here in South Mumbai to meet Dinesh Mora, star of the hot Indian reality show, Real Peacocks of Mumbai. We arrive at a very exclusive gated community, protected by two Bengal tigers. The one at the driver’s side seems surprised to see a mongoose at the wheel. When he checks his guest list, he starts to chuckle, “Going to Mora’s, I see.”

We find a cul-de-sac of incredibly refined neutral-hued homes. Except the one painted bright pink. We get out, look around and see several limos with their macaque drivers waiting. The closest one is glaring at us. He comes over and asks if we’re friends of Mora. We explain about the interview.

 

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The macaque grimaces. “I should have known. Since he’s moved in, it’s been a circus around here. I don’t know why they let him in. Everyone else here is high-level government; leopards mainly with a few lions. He’s a bird! Parties all the time. And look at that paint! Some royal bird of the gods!”

Andi, the photographer and I nod politely and walk to the door. It opens as we approach. It is Anika, Dinesh’s personal assistant. “Hurry up! Dinesh has been waiting for you!”

 

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We walk into a large open room where a large handsome peacock is having some sort of oil massaged into his chest feathers. “Hello there! I’m running behind. We’ll only have time for a couple of pictures before we go. Remember: left side or full-face only. No close-ups of the tail.” Andi grins at me and takes a few shots.

Dinesh dashes out and gets on a vintage Royal Enfield motorcycle. He wants several pictures on it. “Girls love guys on bikes.” Andi poses him several ways before he roars off. Anika stays to do some work.

 

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By the time we get to the studio, a stylist is trying to undo the wind damage to Dinesh’s tail feathers. “Be careful! You know I have the best-looking feathers here. Damage them and I’ll make sure you never work again!” She calmly continues her work.

“You! Picture girl! Come over here. I want some close-ups.” Andi glares at me and walks over.

 

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I ask him how he likes living in Mumbai after spending the rest of his life in the north. “Well, I do miss Mum and my sisters. I’m trying to talk them into coming down here. I have plenty of room. The house is too big for me alone and I certainly am not ready to settle down yet.” He winks at me.

What does he think of the neighborhood? “Truthfully, I wish I’d done a little more research. I wanted someplace quiet so I could relax, but I might as well be living in a cemetery. Apparently none of them have friends. I can’t help that I eat outside and they have servants to prepare their meals. Besides, I keep thinking one of them is going to eat me.”

 

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He’s called to the set. It’s a pretty typical scene from what I’ve heard. The four guys go to a bar, meet some girls they know. They all get a table. A couple of beautiful peahens walk by. Two of the guys get up to talk to them. Their girls get upset and go up to the peahens. Feathers fly. The guys go home, have a drink and talk about girls.

Dinesh goes back to make-up. He wants more oil on his feathers. “You would not believe how those lights can dry you out.”

 

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A couple of female fans some back. One of them coos, “We’d love to rub oil into you.” Andi almost gags. Dinesh smiles and points at the bottles. The girls get to work.

“mmmm” Dinesh looks at us. “Get a couple more pictures, and I think we’re done. Try to avoid their faces. I don’t want any jealous ladies out there.” He thinks for a minute. “And don’t forget. I have final approval on all copy and pictures.”

We leave without telling him that he never got around to asking for a contract.

 

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Riki T Tavi, Asia Correspondent

(all pictures courtesty of Google Images)