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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Wildlife sees the wildlife…or death

    Besides the ill-fated attempt with the Venus Fly Trap and a moldy nectarine that has been sitting in the fruit drawer so long that it’s begun to grow prokaryotes, the only animal I’ve had since college is a neighbor’s cat that likes to pee on my laundry.

    For this and countless other womanly reasons, I thought I’d take a trip to the International Wildlife Museum, 4800 W. Gates Pass Road., last Sunday to see some stuffed and preserved corpses set up in unnatural positions. Well, to be honest, I was just driving around west of the freeway in one of those hopeless attempts to pretend I was on vacation, and wound up there sort of by accident.

    But when a life-sized rhinoceros greeted me at the door, I decided to pay the $5.50 and take a look. The first room I encountered was full of butterflies, neon beetles and rare insects – kind of boring, if you ask me. They did have the most beautifully preserved beehive I’ve ever witnessed in my entire life, though. It was hanging in a plastic case, branches twisting and barely suspending its massive frame. It was so pristine, it looked like a Janine Antoni sculpture.

    But then I got bored and went into the poop room. In addition to a bunch of horns from different animals and a massive porcupine just sitting there still, contemplating, there was a case with around 15 different kinds of poop. Underneath each poop pellet, you moved a knob and it told you what kind of woodland creature made the anomaly. I could tell that all of the little kids in the room were sincerely fascinated by this poop collection, despite the fact that half of them were running around and trying to jump on the assorted antelopes. At one point, one of them, probably off in “”Bob the Builder”” world, knocked straight into a miniature deer and almost tipped it onto the floor.

    I moved on, and found yet another room that the kiddies would surely love: the pet-the-decapitated-bison-head room. This room was full of roving plains animals, which were peculiarly no longer roving but solemnly facing each other in a circle on the carpet. One of the animals was actually kind of adorable, so I reached out my hand to feel its frizzy fur and something took hold of me. I just kept petting and petting, giggling like a doughboy, running my fingers through the bushy hair, talking in baby voices to the corpse.

    But the flash of a camera interrupted me, and I turned to see a couple women with strollers posing underneath two leopards perched 15-feet-high on the wall, surrounded by fake wisps that looked like they were from Target. The display eerily reminded me of a Southwestern wall decoration, but much larger and definitely more frightening. Plus, the thing looked like it was about to break free and topple over onto the strollers at any second. Were these people crazy? Not only was their Sunday morning activity severely creepy for little children, but they were endangering their lives as well for a slightly bizarre photo opportunity.

    The situation got worse when I entered the safari room, or as I called it, the “”Ace Ventura: Pet Detective”” room. If any of you have been to the Wildlife Museum before, you will remember this wood-paneled clubhouse area with intimidating amounts of elephant, deer, lion, owl and zebra etc, heads. While the rest of the exhibits were laid out more, well, like a museum, this exhibit distinctly took on the aura of a smoking room, which forced me to consider, where are these animals coming from? The rumor is that all of them have been found while they were already dead, but I couldn’t help but wonder if some had been hunted. After all, it’s not everyday that you see a dead Saiga Antelope

    lying around. If the conspiracy is true, does that justify the presence of an entire museum based on the murder of animals? It’s probably more useful than a burger shop, but at least the Whopper tastes good.

    After the meat room, I walked through a cave filled with nocturnal animals in ridiculous positions, a trash can that I accidentally mistook to be an exhibit and then toward a miniature replica of the side of a cliff. There was a hole in the bottom, and I bent over to see what type of gopher was hiding. And then it happened! A monstrous form crawled out from underneath, and leapt at me. Initially I thought it was a hairless chimpanzee come to life, but after a second, realized it was just a rambunctious 5-year-old girl who was using the cave as a crawl space.

    With that, I realized that my faux-vacation wasn’t really a vacation at all, but a Dalinian mind-trip to the depths of surreal absurdity. If a monkey in a bear suit walked by smoking a Cuban cigar and fondling some periwinkle, I wouldn’t have been surprised. After my fright, I strolled past goat mountain and the gift shop full of real stuffed animals, and leapt into my car. I really liked the place in a fascinatingly morbid way, but next time I get that feminine urge to go petting and “”ooh””-ing, I’ll go to the zoo.

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