John Kelly's Washington

Normally silent witnesses weigh in on deer's demise

By John Kelly
Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A deer that jumped a wall at the National Zoo was fatally injured by two lions Sunday as dozens of startled spectators looked on.

-- The Washington Post, Nov. 9

Did I see it? Of course I saw it. Very disturbing, sir. Very disturbing. The lions' technique was all wrong. Paws when they should have used jaws; jaws when they should have used paws.

And did you see when one of the lions had the deer in her clutches and let it get away? That showed a lack of focus. She should have bitten the creature's neck, compressing the windpipe. But instead she looked away. Distracted by the crowd? Perhaps. But as I always say, when you are on the hunt, you cannot afford to be distracted. Eye of the tiger, my friend. Eye of the tiger.

All in all, not a great day for the great cats, although I must note that this episode proves my point that lions are overrated. King of the jungle indeed. Overfed bureaucrat of the jungle is more like it.

-- Tiger, one cage over

A deer, you ssssay? How big? Really? No, I missssed it, but then again, I don't really travel in those circlesssss. I'd love a nice tassssty deer, though. Mmmmm. I'd hug him and pet him and ssssqueeze him . . .

-- Boa constrictor,

reptile house

Dude! Did you see it? Heh heh. It was killer! So, this deer goes into the lion cage. I know! Crazy, right? Ha ha ha. And the lion's all, "What's that? Is that a deer?" Heh heh heh. And the deer's all, "Oh, no! I'm in a lion cage!" Haw haw haw. And, like, the lion's all chasing the deer! But it can't catch it! And then it does catch it, but it gets away! Ho ho ho. And the deer is, like, swimming in this water. Hee hee hee. Oh, man, I was seriously laughin' my tail off.

-- Spotted hyena,

African savanna exhibit

The following is a prepared statement from the Ungulate Liberation Front:

We at the ULF decry the recent tragic event at the National Zoo's lion compound. The episode raises several troubling questions:

1. How was the Deer able to get into the enclosure? For years, we have been pressing for a higher fence around the big cats or, indeed, the complete removal of these vicious predators. The National Zoo is well aware of our position on this matter.

2. When did authorities first learn that the Deer was in the compound?

3. Why was the Deer left to fend for itself for 20 terrifying minutes before zoo personnel intervened?

4. Is there any proof to the claim that there was a third lion on a grassy knoll?

5. Zoo officials maintain that the Deer suffered injuries that required euthanasia, and yet no autopsy has been released. Why is this material being suppressed?

We demand an immediate investigation into this horrific incident. Unless these lions are brought to justice, we will continue to protest in the only way we know how: by throwing ourselves in front of motorists.

-- Dama Gazelle,

ULF president

These things happen. I remember something similar occurring in 1973. It was March -- a Tuesday, I believe -- a little after noon. It was an unseasonably warm day. I had just eaten lunch. Hay, of course, but also some fortified pellets.

I have a distinct memory of receiving 31 fortified pellets that day rather than my normal 30. That struck me as odd. You don't forget something like that. Three years later, on Sept. 8, 1976, I received 29 fortified pellets in my lunch, so I suppose these things have a way of evening out. And I remember one of those pellets was a bit cracked, making it closer to 28 pellets, 28 1/2, if you want to be perfectly correct.

I'm sorry, what was the question again?

-- Elephant, elephant house

I was shouting "Play dead! Play dead!" But did the deer listen? No. Do they ever listen? No.

-- Possum,

a tree in Rock Creek Park

I Tweeted the whole thing.

-- Plum-headed parakeet,


I slept through the whole thing.

-- Sloth, small mammal house

Oh, well. There goes the neighborhood.

-- Deer tick, armpit

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