You ever have one of those workdays when every predator you line up in your sights acts like he wants to suck your jugular dry? I’m not talking that sales weasel who keeps taking your parking spot; I’m talking wild animals with too much cage-time and a taste for cameraman. Now, it’s true I don’t speak Maned Wolf - but if body language reaches across the species, the newest animal on display at Greensboro’s Natural Science Center definitely wanted a piece of my ass. Ears tucked back, stilt-legs shifting, a low growl emanating between clenched teeth…was it something I said? Chances are he’s seen my picture on the wall where he picks up his mail, a grainy surveillance shot of yours truly stalking sea lions at the North Carolina Zoo. Then there was the time I taunted all those ostriches from the back of that zookeeper’s pick-up. Not to mention I’m constantly trying to send AquaMan-like brainwaves to the polar bears every time they take a dip. Yep, I’ve built up some real caged animal karma over the years.
Luckily, I know when to keep my distance. Take today for instance. Having picked up their distinctive funk from across the park, I crept up to their living quarters like the apex predator I am. Looking around, I spotted my tripod standing defiantly over by the Meerkat exhibit. With a low whistle I summoned it forward, but the three-legged beast wouldn't budge. Stupid portable camera platform! Oh well, too late now. Digging my elbows into my side, I assumed a languid grip on my weapon and zoomed in on the canine in question. Hyena, Fox, Wolf - what is that thing? And why does it smell like a homeless skunk took a dump on its head? Questions I could not ask as I filled the one inch screen with undomesticated animal snout. As I did, unwatched episodes of Manimal filled my head and I found myself wishing I'd paid more attention back in Junior High. Then again, had I better applied myself in the classroom, I probably wouldn't be wandering around a menagerie with nothing more than a half-dead camera battery and a lint-covered pack of lifesavers in my run-bag.
Seems I have more to worry about than which way to run should Cujo escape. Like how I'm gonna explain wearing a fannypack at age fifty.