Monday, March 06, 2006

Richmond murders, dumps bears

About a week ago, Maymont Park in Richmond killed its two black bears, beheaded them, and disposed of the headless corpses in the town dump. The bears' crime: One of them nipped the hand of a child who had somehow gotten past the first of two fences around the bear display. There are some reports that the child's mother lifted the child over the fence, which (facing prosecution) she now denies. The bear probably smelled apple on the little darling's sticky fingers, and committed the capital offense of checking them out. No stitches were required, but it was enough of a bite to cause some concern about rabies.

Health officials, unsure which of the two bears delivered the offending nibble, lopped the heads off both, sent the brains away for examination, and dumped the bodies in the landfill. After the outcry when the public found out what happened, the bodies were retrieved from the landfill and a more dignified memorial service was held. Richmond Mayor Douglas Wilder (the former governor of Virginia) has been critical of the actions of the family of idiots who caused the situation and the bureaucrats who responded to it.

Richmond Times-Dispatch: "Wilder, whose office was bombarded with complaints, called the killings 'reprehensible' and 'nonsensical bureaucracy.' He was upset his office had not been informed until it was too late. The better decision, he said, would have been the rabies shots. 'You cause some mild discomfort to the child, who was the perpetrator.'"

Alaska black bear
Please don't cut my head off!
Rabies is rare in bears, and the rabies tests came back negative. I don't think "criminal stupidity" is a Virginia offense, but if that woman boosted the kid over the fence, she should be prosecuted under whatever laws may apply. The actions of the bureaucrats are only slightly more defensible. Even if the concern about rabies was legitimate (which is arguable), no one can justify throwing the bodies in the dump.

I plead guilty to anthropomorphism, at least to the point of feeling that higher animals such as bears, elephants and whales are entitled to a sort of "pursuit of happiness," free from abuse by humans. I'm not going to become a vegetarian or run off and join PETA, but I do get upset about stories like this. A human has a thoughtless moment, and two bears get tossed away like garbage.

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