I have been wanting to have a wine cart ever since I downed my first drink. You know, ones that roll on castors and make tinkling sounds of glass hitting glass? Yeah, those. It would be ebony, slick, with three or four tiers, all stocked with exotic liquors. On one side there would be space for an ice bucket and glasses and bowls of dingar-dangar. Dingar-dangar is Indian slang for short-eats, what the French like to call horses of the ovaries or something.
My wine cart would have a recess for a box of the choicest Havana cigars, a cigar cutter and a Scarlett Johanssen statuette that was actually a solid gold lighter, so heavy that you’d have to hold it with both hands (just as you would, the Miss Johanssen). You press one nipple to strike the flame and the other one, to extinguish it.
Maybe I’d round the whole thing off with a real live pet puma slouching by, yawning, licking his chops and looking dolefully at me. That’s another thing I have always wanted – an exotic pet. A puma sounds treacherous and deadly, erotic even.
Nah, a puma might chew me up all of a sudden one evening. You never can tame a puma. They are too unpredictable. Besides they have to be fed huge amounts of gosht all the f—in’ time. (gosht is Indian for meat). They say it costs on an average around $1000 a month to keep a puma fed. And then you need to have the open space where they can take a walk, exercise, like. You don’t want a cranky, pissed-off puma, trust me. Then they want ta shtup. Heck, everyone wants ta shtup. Only, where in the world will you get another puma ta mate yours?
How about if I had a pet boa? Boas make nice friendly pets, I’ve heard. Cozy and ready ta give you a hug anytime. It costs very little to feed boas, compared to pumas. All you need to keep a boa happy is lots of mice, no big deal. Maybe a goat or a smallish calf once in a while, but that’s it.
Of course if you had a boa like Snorka, you would need to put your personal affairs in order first, draw up your last will and testament. You wouldn’t survive Snorka. Cory Byrne, 34, of Papillon, Nebraska didn’t.
Byrne had a friend over and he was showing off his 9-meter long red-tailed boa constrictor , Snorka, to his guest, when it wrapped itself round his shoulders and neck and gently began squeezing. Initially Byrne was joking about how Snorka was always playful and doing that all the time. She always let go after a gentle squish.
This time however, the squeeze kept getting tighter and tighter, till at some point Cory Byrne must have realized that Snorka wouldn’t let go. He gasped for his friend to remove the boa but the friend couldn’t, so strong was the snake’s grip. Then came a sharp ‘snap!’ and Byrne acquired one last stricken look before his face clouded over and he went slack. His rib cage had collapsed from the pressure, puncturing his lungs and killing him.
The ultimate sensation – of being squeezed. He looks ecstatic, doesn’t he? Like he is on acid or something. Well, what can I say? He had it coming, I guess. (Photo courtesy: Wikimedia)
The cops found Byrne on the floor of his apartment with the boa still wrapped around his neck. Paramedics and vets arrived and helped get Snorka off Byrne. Later on a vet examined the reptile and proclaimed that she appeared well-fed and looked after. The vet had no idea what might have led the massive snake to strangle her owner.
Soon after, there was a raging debate on the practice of keeping wild animals as domestic pets. Most states in the US do not have any law against it. Neither do most Canadian provinces.
In fact, in North America, private zoos are common. Sprawling ranches with cages and enclosures full of exotic animals are not unheard of.
We have all read about the horrific Zanesville, Ohio, incident……
Just before dusk two patrol cars reached the sprawling 46-acre farm of Terry Thompson, after receiving multiple 911 calls about sightings of cheetahs, wolves and bears roaming the streets of Zanesville, loose. Thompson was known to have a private zoo with lions, tigers, cheetahs, bears, wolves and other wild animals on his property and that’s why the cops homed in on his farm.
What they discovered there horrified the deputies. Terry Thompson lay dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound and the doors of dozens of the animal cages were wide open. Immediately all residents in the area were told to stay home and not venture out. Motorists were asked to stay inside their vehicles and schools were shut down.
Hundreds of law enforcement officers as well as staffers from the nearby Columbus Zoo descended on the Thompson property and began scouring the countryside. Eventually within the course of that night, all the escaped animals were located and killed (slaughtered would be a more appropriate term actually. See pic below).
What did they do to deserve this? I know, don’t tell me. The Lord has his ‘ways’ (Photo courtesy: Wikimedia)
Experts believe that the burden of caring for all those wild beasts must have at one point, overwhelmed Thompson but nobody really knows why he did what he did. There is the long-term commitment that goes with owning an exotic pet. A croc can live up to 50 years and a chimp, as long as humans. That is a long time to live with an immensely powerful and unpredictable creature that has special needs. Having a pet gorilla or chimp is like living with a super strong athlete whose one hard slap, even when it is just a friendly pat, can dislocate your neck or sever your spinal cord.
Dangerous exotics have no capacity for emotions that we humans feel. Unlike dogs or cats, who sense and react positively to affection, with wild animals there can be no sense of mutual trust. That is something that many exotic pet owners forget after they have lived with one for a while and formed what they believe to be a kind of bond, akin to friendship, with them.
As time goes on and they get comfortable with the beasts, exotic pet owners start ignoring the fact that some, like crocodiles or wolves and even lions, kill just for the sake of killing, even when they aren’t really hungry and have never eaten humans. A venomous green mamba that goes for just around $100 in exotic pet stores and costs peanuts to maintain, can permanently paralyze with just one lightning swift strike with it’s fangs even when you don’t think it feels threatened.
The practice of bringing home an exotic pet is a fad that is restricted mainly to the west, where you find folk who are forever looking for the ultimate fix, the ultimate turn-on, the ultimate mind f—k. The craving to be known for something out-worldly is a potent one over here. Everything has to be outsized and macho. Big SUVs and trucks, motorcycles with 2000cc engines, gargantuan boats, massive ranch spreads, private jets, they want it all. Likewise pets, I guess. Same mindset at play.
When you buy an exotic pet, most of the time, it is for keeps. Most stores do not have a returns policy. You cannot simply bring it back. Moreover, zoos and sanctuaries these days are either cash-strapped or have space limitations and won’t take in your pet.
Some exotic pet stories have a happy ending though, like in the case of Christian, the happy lion, whose story I took the liberty to borrow from a 2013 BBC podcast.
Two Australians, John Rendall and Anthony Bourke had come across “Christian” in London, late in 1969, at what was then a zoo in the up-market department store, Harrods. They noticed these two lion cubs, one male and the other female and they were immediately drawn to the male of the pair.
“He had a nature that was instantly attractive. You could see that he wasn’t frightened, he wasn’t distressed. He was just above it all. And that is very, very irresistible,” recalls Rendall.
The two had only just arrived in London, but they decided almost immediately that they would buy Christian. They paid 250 guineas and walked out of the store with Christian on a leash. The little lion cub turned out to be loving and friendly, right from the go.
Home wasn’t just anywhere. The two friends lived on the very trendy King’s Road, the heart of “Swinging London” in the 60s. The neighborhood was home to rock stars and celebrity fashion designers, generally the ‘hip’ crowd.
Rendall and Bourke rented a flat over a trendy furniture store where they worked and as he prowled around the shop, the little lion became something of a celebrity. In all the time that they had Christian with them, gradually growing into a large beast, he never ever harmed a human, either on the streets or in the store.
Christian, with Rendall and Bourke (Photo courtesy: Wikimedia)
But eventually the two Aussies had to seek the help of the renowned lion expert, George Adamson (remember ‘Born Free’?) to return Christian to a wild life sanctuary in Kenya where he successfully adapted himself to the wilderness and even established a pride of his own. You will find the whole story at the following link…..
So there are two schools of thought. One that says that no matter what the species is, it can be turned into a harmless pet and those stray cases where they harm their masters must be ones where the those human masters had it coming to them. The other says that wild beasts just don’t have the facility to feel emotion, affection, etc, etc.
Me, I would avoid a boa or a croc or a puma, even if it stepped out in just a g-string.