Thursday, June 24, 2010

More Questions Than Answers On The Camels/Tiger Napping

Camels Shawn and Todd, along with tiger Jonas, are now safely back home in the confines of a Toronto zoo, yet the strange story of their hijacking on the roads of Quebec this past week remains a mystery.
Who drove away with the zoo's truck and trailer from a motel parking lot? Why would they? And, most baffling of all, what the heck kind of names are Shawn, Todd and Jonas for pair of dromedaries and a man-eating wildcat?
Shawn, Todd and Jonas sound like three-fifths of a 1990s boy band. Hard to imagine, after a 14-month pregnancy, more than a year of considering baby names, any mother camel gazing upon her newborn calf and deciding, no question about it: "Todd." Not "Sandy," not "Omar," not even the goofball uncle camel's suggestion of "Englebert," as in -- har! -- "Humperdinck." No. Todd.
Camels named Todd and Shawn are not destined to roam care-free through desert dunes from oasis to oasis, but rather to fall into the company of a tiger with a whale's name, all three locked in a trailer left unhitched on a back road of the Canadian savanna, thanks to human intervention.
Working on a tip, police found the trailer near Drummondville on Monday, their third day of searching. It was on Friday during the return from a show in Nova Scotia that the driver for Bowmanville Zoo stopped for a break in St-Liboire, Que., leaving the truck and trailer unattended, although not for long, except not by him, d'oh.
Then the tale turned truly bizarre. One zoo official speculated that the animals had been stolen by Quebec's bountiful Hells Angels, for pets, because apparently that's what criminally minded motorcycle enthusiasts do. With no recent highway reports of Todd, or, for that matter, Shawn, passing by motorists in a sidecar and giving them the middle camel toe, police took to searching local barns, even those of farmers who claimed species identification as part of their regular herd management. A psychic who professed to read animal minds -- (these are all true leads, every one followed up, I swear) -- directed police to a pinpoint location, but to no avail, doing little, thank you very much, Doolittle. Fretting for the hydration of the animals, zoo officials posted a $2,000 no-questions-asked reward for any picture of them drinking (the camels and tiger, not the zoo officials) (drinking water). Wetting the whistles of Todd and Shawn, stubborn camels that can go days with water, is a tricky enough proposition; whetting the appetite of Jonas another matter entirely, and not without certain financial considerations, such as how badly does anybody really need $2,000, as opposed to, say, a right forearm?
Likely what happened (keeping in mind that I am neither a criminologist nor capable of receiving camel brainwaves at long distance with any clarity), was that the perps were either pranksters or, more likely, crooks, thieves who knew the value of a truck and livestock trailer. Only when well down the road did they feel safe to get out, check their hot cargo, and ...
WHOA! A caged cougar and two seriously deformed moose. Way to go, says Garth, with a slap upside the head of Murray, or possibly vice-versa. (My crime reconstruction has the suspects as Canadian guys, both a tad on the dullard side. It seems to fit.) The thieves abandoned first the trailer, and only miles later the truck.
All along, animal experts warned that if Jonas had been turned loose, the tiger was a dangerous predator, although the worst that could befall the public in any encounter with Todd or Shawn was the tendency of irritated camels to spit. I would not want to be the fellow who cleans that trailer. Three days of Todd and Shawn and Jonas grating each other's nerves? I'd rather be the hotel room maid after a 1998 stay by the Backstreet Boys.
I can't imagine visiting that Toronto zoo any time soon, either. For all the indignities suffered by animals at the hands of humans, one day will surely deliver our comeuppance. This latest humiliation might be the straw that breaks the tiger's back, that puts us in the eye of the camel.

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