Fear of the Animal Planet: The Hidden History of Animal Resistance

Fear of the Animal Planet: The Hidden History of Animal Resistance

Jason Hribal

Language: English

Pages: 125

ISBN: 2:00240063

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

“Until the lion has his historian,” the African proverb goes, “the hunter will always be a hero.” Jason Hribal fulfills this promise and turns the world upside down. Taking the reader deep inside the circus, the zoo, and similar operations, he provides a window into the hidden struggle and resistance that occurs daily. Chimpanzees escape their cages. Elephants attack their trainers. Orcas demand more food. Tigers refuse to perform. Indeed, these animals are rebelling with intent and purpose. They become the true heroes, and our understanding of them will never be the same.

“Animal fables, jungle books, Aesopian tales were the discursive evidence of cross-species interaction that survived into modernity as children’s literature. When the carceral replaced the domestic system, as the zoos, circuses, and laboratories became the primary site of interaction replacing the barnyard and the wild wood, the animals began to resist. Here are their hidden stories. Jason Hribal takes us behind the zoo scenes, the phoney exhibits, and cute displays to reveal an ugly economy of exploitation, international trafficking in exotic animals, over-work, cruelty in training, incessant and insolent teasing from the public. He chronicles the escapes, the assaults, the demand of food, and the refusals to reproduce that resulted. Here is animal resistance neither “wild” nor “instinctual” but responses to specific injustices. Single-minded, eccentric, and delightfully cranky, Hribal is the annalist nonpareil of animal escape. With light but unforgiving misanthropy he carefully names the animals (the pachyderms – Jumbo and Tinkerbelle, the primates – Moe, Kumang, Little Joe, the sea lions, dolphins, and Orcas (Corky, Kasatka) while leaving the keepers, trainers, and showmen in shameful anonymity. From the escape of Tatiana, the Siberian tiger from the San Francisco zoo, to the latest orca killing Hribal relentlessly gathers the evidence to witness these risings of the creatures.” —Peter Linebaugh, author of The Magna Carta Manifesto and The London Hanged

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who lived long enough to tell the tale of their transfer from the western jungles of Africa to the urban center of southern California. The other four apes had died almost immediately upon arrival from a combination of negligence and sheer stupidity on the part of the staff. Nevertheless, this is the place where Evelyn was brought into the world, and it was here where she would grow—both in terms of her size and her resourcefulness. The gorilla’s most infamous escape occurred in October of

Oklahoma City Zoo in the 1990s, it was a simple matter of contaminated water. The bacteria levels had gotten too high and park officials knew it. Yet they were either incapable or unwilling to fix the lethal problem. Four Atlantic bottlenose dolphins died in succession. In 2000, a outbreak of deaths occurred at Sea World’s now defunct Aurora, Ohio park. Over the course of eleven days, three of its dolphins died. Biologists were puzzled. Some suspected that a type of bacteria might be behind the

facility was forced to try artificial insemination. Ah, success at last. Two females, Kri and Tique, became pregnant. Shedd triumphed the news to anyone who would listen. Finally it would have its calves. Wrong. Kri’s calf ended up being a stillborn. And Tique neglected to nurse hers. Was this a refusal to reproduce? The aquarium suggested that it was simply a matter of maternal inexperience. Tique’s calf soon died of starvation. Chuckles at the Pittsburgh Zoo never had sex. He spent much of his

swimmers, if they were able to walk away, would have done so with large chucks of their flesh missing. This was one resistant dolphin. On February 23, 2002, an obituary summed his attitude justly: “Chuckles, the much beloved Amazon River dolphin with the perpetual smile and natural penchant for biting trainers and a few unlucky visitors . . . died yesterday afternoon.” Nootka It was the first time that a trainer had been killed by a group of captive killer whales. There had been previous

“were having an off day, that they were being ornery.” This should have been taken as an ominous warning. Sea World officials knew, for instance, that it was only two months previous when a trainer had been killed at Loro Parque in the Canary Islands. Keto, a captive-born orca who was on lease from Sea World, was rehearsing a routine when he decided to violently ram into his handler’s ribs and drown the person. The almost exact same thing happened in 2007 at the island park, when another

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