Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Israeli zoo animals show signs of stress

The baboons got stressed, the lions got fat and zoo officials worry the antelopes might have heart attacks. After 34 days in indoor shelters, many of the animals at the Haifa Zoo got a breath of outdoor air — if not a taste of freedom — for the first time on Tuesday.

Zoo officials moved all the carnivores, bears and monkeys indoors at the start of the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, both to protect them from rocket strikes and to keep an errant missile on a retaining wall from setting them loose into Israel's third-largest city.

"The lions gained weight, but they look basically OK," said zoo manager Etty Ararat as he released them outdoors on Tuesday. Hours before, the lions roared and flashed their teeth at reporters who visited them at the 3 by 2-meter- (yard) indoor cages where they were confined for more than a month.

"Baboons suffered from stress," Ararat said.

Most of all, she worried about the more fragile animals, like the gazelles, who had to stay outside while thousands of explosions went off around them.

This reminds me of a roommate I had in 1994. She was just aghast at gorillas dying in Rwanda. The people being hacked to death by machete? Not so much. Daughter of a US congressman from MN. Justice and Peace major in college. Care to guess her political affiliation? Hint, she cried a lot in November of that year.

Paraphrasing Dennis Miller, "Animal rights activists will step over a human being lying in their own piss to spit on someone wearing fur."