Wildlife in My Living Room

If you want true reality, turn your TV to Animal Planet for a few hours.

October 2019

I’ll admit: I’ve become addicted to several shows on the Animal Planet. It’s almost all I watch at night. What I did on my summer vacation was write first, then take a brisk beautiful walk, then read on the screened porch, eat brunch or, in my case, “blinner” (that’s all three meals in one), and watch Animal Planet.

Many may be focused on so-called “reality shows.” But, if you want true reality, turn on the Animal Planet for a few hours. I love the game warden shows, although I often have to look away from the gore that goes with hunting. I adore the zoo shows — one at the Bronx Zoo, the other in San Diego. When I get to New York again, I’m hopping in a cab and heading for the Bronx — wherever that is. I wish they had a hotel on the grounds. I’d gaze out my window at the elephants, bears and giraffes, and forget the TV.

Here are the two most shocking facts I’ve learned from the Animal Planet. First, let’s consider giraffes. They’re a popular animal, gentle, gangly giants, grazing on the treetops. Who ever heard of a giraffe attacking someone?

Well, it has happened. I watched with incredulous awe an episode of “I Was Prey.” Sure, sharks and snakes and alligators can kill you, but a giraffe?

A veterinarian and his wife were in Africa on a photo safari to celebrate their 40th anniversary. They stayed at a five-star resort. Their first sojourn was to be guided where they could find giraffes. The couple got rather close to two placid females and were exulting at the photo ops.

Suddenly, the vet caught movement out of the far corner of his eye. He turned to find an 18-foot-tall male giraffe galloping down on him. He barely had time to yell before the bull giraffe, who had his amorous eye on the two ladies, headbutted him into the air and tossed him aside. Then, it bore down to stomp him with hooves five times as big as those on a horse, the vet recalled. The giraffe turned his

malevolent attention to the wife, who smartly threw herself on the ground and played dead. The guide screamed “Run!” and otherwise was no help at all.

Somehow, the couple made their way to the bush vehicle and back to the resort, where the vet was the only doctor available. He had to treat his own injuries. Surprisingly, the couple decided to remain on their vacation, albeit with a much more watchful eye.

Here’s the second shocking story. A man was mowing his lawn. His wife was watering flowers. She saw a rattlesnake and screamed. He ran over, grabbed a shovel, and smashed the rattler, then cut off its head with the shovel tip.

He went about his mowing duties. Later, realizing his grandchildren were coming over to play, he decided to dispose of the dead rattlesnake. As he reached for the head — sadly without the shovel — the head of the “dead” snake bit his hand. Three times. He couldn’t pry it off.

Who knew a dead rattler can still deliver an almost fatal bite? Maybe you, but not I. I’ve seen a dead rattler’s headless body still writhing after being shot an hour before, but still … this was simply ghastly.

The fellow considers himself lucky to have only lost his middle and ring fingers. He joked that he now has a permanent “rock star salute.” He still claims to have no animosity for snakes.

Oddly, that seems to be the sentiment of those who’ve survived attacks by sharks, grizzly bears and cougars.

“I was invading their environment,” they say.

Thankfully, my daily walk in the woods does not bring the danger of sharks, grizzly bears or cougars. And, while I have had my run-in with a rattlesnake, I don’t think I’ll encounter a giraffe any time soon.


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