You know that feeling you get when you go to the zoo or the aquarium or wherever, and you're looking through an electrically-charged fence or a super-thick glass wall at some majestic wild animal and you think to yourself: That polar bear sure is big! Yikes. But he's so cute, too! Aww. He almost looks friendly! I wish I could give him a big hug. And then the rational side of your brain kicks in and you're like, Whoa, except that would be freakin' looney tunes! Get a load of those claws, dude! That bear could slice me in half!
I'm starting to think that not everybody has that secondary, rational reaction. Because no matter how many tragic attacks we hear about, people still keep trying to get up close and personal with wild animals. Like U.S. grad student Andrew Oberle, who was viciously mauled by 2 adult chimpanzees at a primate sanctuary in South Africa.
2 adult chimpanzees who will be allowed to live, it was announced today, because the chimps were only engaging in "territorial defense" behavior (triggered when Oberle stepped over the safety fence to retrieve a rock he thought the chimps would throw at visitors).
In other words, 2 adult chimpanzees who didn't do anything wrong. They were just doing what came naturally. Like the pet chimp who was shot to death after viciously (and I mean VICIOUSLY) attacked his owner's friend, Chandra Nash. Like the "tame" cheetahs that mauled a woman who thought she could pet the pretty kitties. Like the abused, displaced dolphin known for biting swimmers in a Louisiana lake. Heck, like the zebra who bit some lady eating chips in a drive-through safari with her windows rolled down.
What is the deal with people? Why do we persist in thinking we can make friends with WILD ANIMALS? Is it our society's affinity for anthropomorphism? Cause life ain't a Disney movie, and the average lion is less likely to break into song, more likely to bite off your head.
Enough with the cautionary tales already!
Why do you think people keep trying to get super close to wild animals?
Image via Chester Zoo/Flickr