Cure the economy by reviving 'animal spirits'

A bright blue scrotum, vicious chimps, Bobo, and sexually incompetent pandas: Here's a stimulus package of wildlife stories that could lead to an economic recovery.
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Black bear in the woods. (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)

A bright blue scrotum, vicious chimps, Bobo, and sexually incompetent pandas: Here's a stimulus package of wildlife stories that could lead to an economic recovery.

What do writers do all day?

I can answer that.

Recently, I spent part of an afternoon Googling "blue monkey scrotum."

Why? Because that's where the "man-bites-dog" animal story of the week was. Or rather, the "blue-monkey-scrotum-bites-reporter" story. And it has a local angle too.

You might have read that a TV news reporter lost his job for doctoring tape to make it look as if a Fox News host had said that the new attorney general, Eric Holder, looked like a monkey and had a "bright blue scrotum." Why would a prankster do this, you ask? Why would someone go out of their way to frame a Fox News person to look racist and weird when they can usually do it themselves without any help? Apparently the TV reporter thought his doctored tape would be a funny joke, and the rest of the Internet agreed. Websites like Huffington Post featured the fake vid, thinking it was real.

But why, you ask, were Fox News people discussing "bright blue scrotums" in the first place? Where did the sound-bites come from? Fox was covering the escape of a De Brazza's monkey from the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. Some clever intern must have Googled De Brazza's monkeyand discovered they have one very distinguishing characteristic that makes them not unlike many participants in the Fremont Solstice parade: A male is a sky blue where the sun don't shine.

High quality stories like that are enough to revive my "animal spirits." I read in the New York Times the other day that the one thing that will turn the economy around is if our "animal spirits" are mightily aroused (now that our "irrational exuberance" has ebbed). This according to the legendary economic ringmaster John Mayard Keynes. Our "animal spirits" drive us to spend, hire, expand, and invest all of our hard-earned savings in Wall Street Ponzi schemes. The only way to get the economy back on track is to act like female De Brazza's monkeys that have just caught glimpse of a sack of blue!

If that doesn't revive your "animal spirits" for the good of America, perhaps these other stories I've been collecting will:

Fish balls: For those of you not finished with reading about animal genitals, take note of this safety caution from Japan, where you are warned not to eat blow-fish testicles prepared by an unlicensed blow-fish testicle preparer. Seven diners in northern Japan were hospitalized for nibbling the poorly prepared poison delicacies. Blow fish is dangerous enough in the hands of a skilled blow fish chef, but in this case "the owner of the restaurant in Tsuruoka city, who is also the chef, had no license to serve blowfish and was being questioned on suspicion of professional negligence," police said. How many times do you need to be told, people? When eating poison fish, always demand to see your sushi chef's blowfish testicle license before you dig in.

Experience Music Fish: A University of Washington scientist, fish biologist Ted Pietsch, is an expert on angler fish and recently "freaked out" when he discovered a new species from Indonesia that essentially looks like an Eagles Auditorium concert poster circa 1968. With it's weird, "fever dream" flapping face, bright stripes and wild colors, he dubbed the new species "psychedelica." If he'd named it after Jimi Hendrix he'd likely have been sued. No word yet on the color of the fish's scrotum.

No Chimp Left Behind: The 900-pound gorilla must now move over for the 200-pound chimp. You've no doubt read about the horrible incident of a woman's obese drug-crazed pet chimp hideously mauling her friend. The chimp was agitated and had been given Xanax in some tea. The best theory they could come up with for why is that the chimp didn't like the lady's new hair-do, matching a viciousness only seen on America's Next Top Model.

People are now wondering whether you ought to have chimps as pets in the first place — basically, they're upright pit-bulls. Editorialists remind us that a "chimpanzee in a tutu" is not "a hairy child," which, I hope, clears up that confusion for you.

In response to the terrible attack, the chimp was shot down by the cops and we are warned that "there are 15,000 captive primates in the U.S., and these wild animals — some of whom have the strength of several adult men — can bite, scratch, and spread diseases."

Oregon Democratic congressman Earl Blumenauer sagely warns the public about the dangers of primate ownership, "I would respectfully note that having your face ripped off is not the same as an animal bite. We are dealing with animals that have the potential of inflicting serious damage and death." Apparently, Coco like mayhem.

Acting to thwart a nationwide epidemic of enraged face-ripping chimp attacks, the House of Representatives has just passed the Captive Primate Safety Act, though shouldn't it more rightly be called the Protecting the Neighbor Lady With the Bad Hair-do Act? No word yet on a blow fish bill.

Bad Mate: I've never understood how captive primates can mate with all of us watching. In Seattle, the local newspapers used to speculate about why Woodland Park gorillas Bobo and Fifi couldn't reproduce. Some people whispered that Bobo was homo. Hey, maybe he wouldn't mate because we were all talking about it on TV and in the newspapers, ever think of that? I mean, not everybody is Brad and Angelina.

And panda bears. We're told they're shy, but then we try and film them the one day a year when they get their groove on. The world is still waiting to hear about whether Washington, DC's famous pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian had a successful date back in January because "competent mating did not occur." Oh, if I only had a nickel for every time I've heard that phrase.

Unfortunately, Panda mating is particularly problematic: only one day a year can the female conceive, there's a high chance of false pregnancy, scientists kibitzing. So, the pandas are knocked out and the artificial inseminationists come in and we hope nature then takes its course after a procedure that must seem like an alien abduction.

My suggestion for future panda love-making sessions. One, why don't zoos just bring in that Octo-Mom as a consultant? Two, has anyone tried painting a panda's scrotum bright blue?


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About the Authors & Contributors

Knute Berger

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is Crosscut's Editor-at-Large.