You'd think zoo news would be a real snoozer because from your own visit it normally proves not too exciting. You have all these overfed animals (perhaps drugged) wide body furry creatures lying around hiding in the shade from the hot sun barely able to raise their heads to stare at the tourists. On a second trip to Kilimanjaro I arranged for a three day walking safari across the eastern part of Tanzania in Africa. I was looking for some real Tarzan type of stuff. Tanyanika Film and Safari Outfitters arranged for me to be accompanied by a Massai scout, a shooter meant to protect me (that's the guy with the game rifle) and an interpreter that spoke English, Dutch, German, Swahili and the native tongue of the Massai; as he described Affrikan. I have no clue about whether he was telling me the truth; maybe he wanted a bigger tip. During the day it was interesting but probably not as dangerous as a day in an American zoo. One night the lions keeping me awake and as I ventured outside my tent a toothy smile holding a shiny barreled rifle met me as he stood guard just outside the tent flap.
First we have to mention the recent killer whale attack on a young worker in Florida. A terrible example of a worker giving their life for what she obviously loved to do, but a side of the practice of law personal injury lawyers deal with that sticks with us for our entire lives. I have no idea if a lawyer is handling the workers' compensation aspects of that case but I can imagine how terribly troubling those kinds of cases are from a personal standpoint. Like Kevin Costner's character in The Guardian I remember ever case I ever lost. When you care about your clients you remember more about the losses than you do those "you saved." Every settling case takes something out of you because hating to lose makes you always wonder if there was another way to argue the case and persuade a larger settlement from the opposition.
I took a gander at what personal injury news is at the zoo through the eyes of the writers at World Zoo Today. You'll be surprised at how fruitful the search turned out to bee.
Beijing, China - For some reason at least 11 tigers died from hunger or malnutrition the year alone. Of course this being the Year of the Tiger on the lunar calendar may have something to do with it. Tiger parts are used in Chinese medicine. The report out of the local Liaoshen Evening News is that six died in one day. Apparently they were being kept in small wet cages and being fed only "one or two scrawny chicken carcasses each day". The zoo hasn't caught up over the past year with paying its worker's the wages they are owed. Reuters reports that in all of China there are fewer than 50 wild tigers alive. By the count of conservationist there are about ten in Yunnan, 15 in Tibet and 20 in Jilian and Heilongjiang provinces. Their habitat is in the northeast part. Tiger parts like eyeballs, bones and whiskers are still used in Chinese medicine. A skin can sell for $20,000 for one pelt. One has to wonder if the economy in China is as good as is being reported. You might be asking how this is personal injury news and I can't say it is but I do like tigers.
Manitowoc, Wisconsin - A woman got too close to a bear and he bit her hand taking off a thumb and forefinger along with partially severing two other fingers. The bears were Asiatic black bears. The woman was 47-years-old and ...this shouldn't surprise you... the mayor's office reported she'd been drinking alcohol! Shocking that alcohol was something that erased caution and common sense about getting too close by putting her hand through the fence. The good news is there is no plan to put the bears down and the bad news was the zoo was shut down for a day. Apparently chivalry isn't dead in Manitowoc. The woman's boyfriend tried to pry open the bear's mouth and was himself bit in the process. I wonder what that three year old that was with them thought of all this?
Back to Beijing, Chinawith Gu Gu the Panda - In March 2009 Gu Gu was being fed when a 15-year-old jumped the 1.4-meter barrier, startling the panda who in turn bit the kid on both legs. This was Gu Gu's second brush dealing with unruly tourists. In 2008 Gu Gu bit a drunken tourist and a college student wanting a hug. That zoo visitor was mad enough to bite back. But let's not stop there because we aren't finished with G uGu news. In January 2009 someone jumped the fence to retrieve a child's toy and was bit this guy's leg and refused to let go. The panda weighs 240-pounds or 110-kiliograms requiring zookeepers to use tools to pry open her jaw. The injured tourist was after his 5-year-old son's toy. And let's not forget 2007 which was an especially good year for G uGu encounters with zoo visitors. It was in 2007 when a drunken tourist intending to hug G uGu wasn't warmly received by the panda. And in October of that same year G uGu bit a teenager who entered her exercise area. I'm picking up that hugging pandas in China is something a lot of people like to do.
Meanwhile back at home in St. Louis, Missouri they are building a memorial to a young lad who was struck by a drunk driver and killed just outside the entrance gates. Let's remember not all the danger of going to the zoo is inside the gate.
Nandankanan, Bhubaneswar - July 2009 - Thirty tourists in a vehicle, probably not a Safari SUV, got stuck in the mud while on a lion's safari. A bunch of lions, no one got out to count the exact number, surrounded the vehicle. An hour and a half later someone showed up to pull them out. Why they filed a complaint with park authorities is beyond me. Perhaps they didn't have enough film. You know when you go on a safari the idea is to walk to the edge of the envelope and look over to see what you can't from your cubicle.
Fort Myers, Florida - Back in Florida someone stole a python from a petting zoo. Not sure about you, but this seems like an oxymoron to me. Why would one want to pet a 9.5 foot snake that can literally squeeze the life right out of you? Here is the best part of this story. This python was a part of a petting zoo set up in a shopping center parking lot. Stolen or escaped? Which is worse? You'd better hope someone stole it. I say stolen sounds better than escaped because of landlord liability. If the critter simply got away you could have your hands tied by liability venom.
Dallas, Texas - Let's go to Dallas where the Dallas SWAT team is busy looking for a 180-pound gorilla that escaped captivity at the Dallas Zoo. I'm not going to tell you if they recovered the beast or if he's still out eating bananas at the local Piggley Wiggley. Read the story.
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