Sunday, November 16, 2008
Wild Things and Translocation
We pushed away momentarily from an informal dinner on paper, talked out. I suggested a little television while we digest a bit and flipped through the cable guide, found Wild Things. Knowing FD likes to learn anything about anything, I pushed the "Okay" button on the remote.
Rhinos. Have you seen it? The story made news in February.
Pretty interesting TV viewing, for awhile there. But I am eating, digesting. And the large animals are rubbing parasites off of their hides, lolling around in mud. I came in late, so am not sure why the animal authorities in South Africa have trans-located rhinos and elephants, but it has something to do with preservation.
They show an auction for zoos, another way to preserve them. I'm surprised that kids aren't afraid to go to zoos. After all, if we can put large mammals and pachyderms behind bars, how hard would it be to contain Little Joey?
I felt pretty sick before long and excused myself from the table, but wandered back as my stomach settled down. (Cookies help here.) Anyway, there on the tube, a young elephant is bullying a small rhino. The narrator explains that if the rhino doesn't get free, the elephant will pin him down with his knee and gouge him to death with his tusk. This is a common thing in Africa, a little like certain school yards in America.*
Interestingly, the reason for this unusual aggression, and, apparently, excessive unusual sexual behavior of the elephants, too, has to do with their age at translocation. These elephants are teenagers.
We all know that this is not a good time to move kids. Teenagers need some stability in friendship. Separating friends at this most emotional time of life can be a terrible thing, psychologically, a terrible loss. Loss makes us angry.
The scientists returned to the native territory of the aggressive young pachyderms and sought out a few elderly elephants, grandfatherly elephants, to translocate them, too. The teenagers settled down as soon as they had a little supervision. Having grandparents around stopped the aggression and the hyper-sexuality.
Now. Seems to me that this is a call to grandparents everywhere, not to go to Africa, but to get more involved with their teenage grandchildren.
You might say it's a call to the wild.
*An exaggeration, for those of you who are not living in America. It's true that it can be dangerous in certain places, like alleys in the wee hours of the morning, certainly at night, but this depends upon many things, primarily your zipcode.