Psychiatric Annals

THE LEGEND OF THE FABULOUS ZOO

Alexander H Leighton, MD

No abstract available for this article.

Once, in a Sunny Valley, there were some Kindly Keepers, who looked after the animals in a Fabulous Zoo. The Kindly Keepers were the descendants of Thoughtless Hunters who had captured the wild beasts, but that was a long time ago. The Zoo contained all kinds of animals, such as brave lions, timid deer, fierce tigers, wild elephants, graceful gazelles, beautiful leopards, birds of paradise, sweet nightingales, and brilliant green swallows. It also contained gray wolves, wart hogs, sneaky coyotes, wild asses, snakes in the grass, lazy sloths, great apes, laughing hyenas, gooney birds, red-faced boobies, and tearful crocodiles. It was truly a Fabulous Zoo.

The Kindly Keepers worked away, feeding the animals and maintaining the cages. They often brought their Happy Children to the Zoo and taught them to love and understand the animals.

By and by, the Kindly Keepers became troubled in their hearts. They saw that some of the lions developed severe tics from walking up and down in small spaces; one leopard took to eating his tail and kept at it until it was a raw, wet, bloody stump; and many different animals gouged chunks of fur out of themselves and scrubbed off the skin underneath. There were also mothers who neglected their babies and let them die. Some of the animals would even say Unprintable Things to each other across the bars, and the apes would hurl Unspeakable Objects.

The Kindly Keepers could see that all this was due to confinement in cages. They talked to each other about What a Shame it was and blamed the Thoughtless Hunters. Would it not be so much better, they said, if the brave lions were born free like Kindly Keepers? The Keepers began to train a few of the animals so they could live outside the cages. They saved babies from Neglectful Mothers and brought them up on bottles. One Mrs. Kindly Keeper took a baby chimpanzee into her home and raised him as one of the family. The Kindly Keepers were pleased about all these things, and they felt they were making Progress. They told each other that perhaps the day would come when there would be No More Cages.

I am sorry to say that some of the animals made up rude, sarcastic songs about Pie in the Sky.

When the Happy Children came home from school, the Kindly Keepers told them about the Progress. But the Happy Children did not think this was enough; they wanted the animals freed. At Once. They said that "you taught us to love and understand the animals, and what we love and understand is that All Animals Are Equal, including Kindly Keepers and Happy Children." "You must liberate all the animals right now," they said, "for otherwise you are a Hypocrite and should be on exhibition in a cage yourself. Furthermore, if you do not liberate the animals, we shall run away from home, and hate you; and we won't be Happy Children anymore."

The Kindly Keepers said they would let the animals out just as fast as they could teach them to Behave, and they would use behaviorial science to help them find out how. But the Happy Children said that they had no right to impose Our Culture on the animals.

Of course, the Kindly Keepers did not want to be considered Hypocrites, and they were a little bit afraid of their Children. So, one day, they went all over the Fabulous Zoo opening the doors of the cages.

The first thing the Fabulous Animals did was to cry out for joy and frisk around and stretch their muscles in the Sunny Valley to express their pleasure in liberation and freedom. Next they ate the Kindly Keepers and the Happy Children. After that they settled down to eating each other.

THE END

10.3928/0048-5713-19750401-03

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