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Anthropomorphism, the Chinese Pandas and the El Paso County Zoo

Not THIS El Paso County, El Paso, Texas. They never had a panda, even in the freewheeling times before Zoos took on a true scientific mission nobody would have been dumb enough to give a panda to that pathetic joke of a zoo. We did have an Asian Elephant, and a Bengal Tiger…

The Elephant was named Mona, Spanish for “Nun” and appropriate to her name she lived alone. Elephants are herd animals. Very sociable and they need other elephants to talk to. They build social orders that are as complex as some human civilizations. But they had Mona living alone. In a pen about as big as my current front yard. She had a little stone barn in the corner of it where she could retreat if the weather became too cold. When she was 30 years old they allowed her to have a heater in her hut. It doesn’t get as cold in El Paso as it does here, but sometimes the temperature (very rarely) has gotten to the Zero Degrees Fahrenheit level. When she turned 40 they gave her a companion.

The Tiger was dubbed “The Pussycat Tiger” and one of the ways the Zoological Society made her special was to get the kids of El Paso to chip in our spending money, a penny drive that was featured every day on the Bozo the Clown show. They’d show a short film of a tiger in the wild, running around in the trees. Well, they finally installed the Pussycat Tiger into the zoo. Where she was in an enclosure slightly smaller than the elephant pen. I did mention this zoo is a Sad Joke, yes? The only thing they had over a Roadside Carnival was they didn’t constantly move from town to town.

Speaking of which, the Al Maidah Shrine would bring the Shrine Circus to town twice a year. Complete with a small dysfunctional group of Asian elephants. Not the family groups they’re designed to be, led by a grandma Matriarch for generations. But at least they weren’t alone. They would talk to Mona as they were being led down Alameda street in chains to the County Colosseum and Convention Center, which was a huge forkin’ barn across the street from the zoo. Literally a barn, it was designed for the Fat Stock Shows and the cattle auctions. Rock bands dread playing there because, it’s a barn. It’s not designed for acoustics or musical enjoyment. Between the circus and the rodeo were the only times it fulfilled its purpose as a building.

Right next to the Zoo, on the other side of a drainage canal from Mona’s cage, is Washington Park, and a corner of that was the Minor League baseball stadium for El Paso. If you were up in the cheap seats at Dudley Field you could look down into Mona’s pen. Altogether the park was about 10 times the acreage of the Zoo but still not as big as the Elephant run or even the Tiger enclosures at a modern, Sane, not-a-pathetic-joke Zoo.

Washington Park is most often used for people as a place to let their dogs shit.

The Pussycat Tiger died after a year and a half. There wasn’t any mention of that on the Bozo show. About the same time one of the Kodiak bears the zoo somehow got an aquisition thereof killed the other one and for several hours was eating the remains. Nice, yes?

That was in the early 70s. About the same time, Li-li and Ling-ling were loaned to the National Zoo in Washington. As part of a study and breeding program that today, especially hoy mismo, aujour-d’hui, this very day… has people upset because one of the pandas born at the zoo is going back to China as part of the breeding exchange program. On the one hand, the pandas are being portrayed as property, and on the other, as anthropomorphized Citizens being returned to a Chinese Communist country and and and … Get a GRIP! This was the original agreement back in 1972. The panda is now 4 years old and weighs over a hundred kilos. It’s time for him to do what a Panda must do, which is to make more pandas. To do that he has to be with pandas that aren’t his close relatives. Like for instance his mother and father at the National Zoo in Washington.

If the breeding program isn’t successful, along with conservation of the bamboo forests where the pandas live and is the source of their food, then the only way we’re ever going to see live pandas will be in a (perhaps more comfortable) version of Mona’s pen at the equivalent of the El Paso County Zoological Park.

Brother Jonah
Brother Jonah
Recovering Texan. Christian while and at the same time Anarchist. (like Tolstoy only without the beard, for now) Constantly on the lookout for things which have relevance to things I already know. Autistic. Proud to be Ex- air force. Out of the killing machine for 27 years 4 months and 5 days woohoo!

One thought on “Anthropomorphism, the Chinese Pandas and the El Paso County Zoo

  1. Oh, and Mona didn’t live to be 60. In elephant terms that would be “cut down in the prime of life”. Not to worry, though, with the Capitalist notion of Animals-as-disposable-property it’s still a win-win, they didn’t have the expense of giving her geriatric care and besides, she had a replacement. Another elephant now living alone.

    In the theme of Anthropomorphism, where one species, like the Giant Panda, wins out in an insane popularity contest against for instance, the California Condor (a big-ass buzzard, not cute in any way) and the Spotted owl, snail darter and Fleder’s Mouse who made the mistake of living on land that Developers and tree-“harvesters” covet…. merely by looking very human in size, proportion and even some facial features…

    But elephants are not only Legendary for their intelligence, they ARE smart. And they communicate. And, there’s a possibility that they pass knowledge from one generation to the next.

    I wonder if Mona told her younger companion what kind of miserable, Elephantine-Hell existence she’s going to face with Mona gone.

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