|Knoxville, San Diego,
Winnipeg, Buffalo, Granby, Toronto: a list of zoos I have visited this
year. And anyone could see the gorillas at the Toronto Zoo were conscious,
deliberate philosophers with no vocabulary, sitting in the glass house
pondering ambiguity, paradox and the absolutes. At Granby the gorillas
were of a decidedly lower class. I hope they don't read this. Two big ones
studiously ignored a tossed banana for several terse minutes until finally
the male broke down and flickered with interest and the female leaped from
her perch, pounced on the banana, then ate it herself while the male tried
to pretend he didn't care. And an American eagle attacked his mate over
a gerbil tossed in their cage.
Viciously too, all heaven
in a rage. But when I held out a handful of nuts to the bull elephant he
took only half, then slowly backed up so his mate could have the remainder.
The eyes of these sad spiritual lovers in leg chains checked to see if
I understood and appreciated their little gesture of love, and I felt I'd
been blessed by the Pope. They knew there was nothing I could do to free
them, though when two doves were presented to Pope John Paul II in Montreal
he released them and they didn't fly away, just sat their in transcendental
splendour in the middle of crowded Olympic Stadium, little haloes radiant.
And people who live in the vicinity of the Granby Zoo when you get to know
them will shyly confide in you that late at night after they turn off the
television they lie in bed listening to and feeling the earth and sky quivering
and murmuring with the mammoth heartbreaking hour-long orgasms of the elephants.