Belfast Telegraph

Why life in the wild isn’t really Garden of Eden

By Robert McNeil

Animals, eh? Exactly. I'm tempted to end this article here (reader's voice: “Good idea. I'm a busy person.”). But, on this theme of animals, I want to add: What are they about? We can't live with the big, fierce ones, and we can't live without the little, cuddly ones or those predisposed by genetic mutation to fetch sticks.

We want to love animals, are desperate to engage with them, and yet can't help admitting that they’re frightfully dim. Not only are they dim, but many are wicked. It’s not their fault. They’re part of nature, which is evil and horrible to the core. Only a sadistic deity could come up with this red in tooth and claw malarkey. Logically, therefore, nature was created by Stan (or Satan, as he appears in translations without typing errors).

Those New Age people who urge us to be at one with nature are, therefore, agents of the Devil. I realise that’s a controversial claim and, consequently, I'm not too keen to stand by it. But the unarguable fact remains: nature is horrible.

I’m minded to stridulate thus by a series of pictures widely reproduced in the popular prints. These appeared to show three cheetahs patting a baby impala on the head and even letting it nuzzle up to them. The pictures were extraordinary. People said: “They fill your heart with hope.” And: “The animals are more humane than us.”

Hmm, I smelled a rat. I remember seeing these sort of pictures before, featuring some lions and a baby zebra. The zebra lay down with the lions, who appeared to show it affection. Then, the psychopathic hunting squad returned and instantly devoured the trusting little thing.

Thus, with the impala story, poopers pointed out with predictably awful glee that the full series of pictures didn't show a happy ending, as claimed by the papers, but featured the baby creature shortly afterwards being killed and eaten. I knew it. No one can kid me there's anything nice about a cheetah. Interesting spots, I suppose, but that's about it.

Doubtless, the incident caused Stan to rock with laughter on his fiery throne. It's the vegetarian beasts who suffer most at his hands. I'm sympathetic to vegetarianism while, at the same time, could maim anyone who tried to remove a bacon roll from me.

For a time, I lived surrounded by sheep, and cannot think they've any purpose besides providing meat and wool. There's just no vim about them, no pizzazz. There's more chutzpah about the garden birds who gather in nearby bushes of a morning to watch me do my standing meditation exercises. They can see I‘m at one with the universe. Either that or they're thinking: “Get on with it, Captain Gimp, and just give us the food.”

I talk to them, of course, and certainly they stand there looking at me. For fleeting moments, I'm recreating the Back Garden of Eden. But then, whenever I get closer to pat them on the head (the essential mode of contact between man and little creature), they fly off in terror. For, to them, we are untrustworthy. It wasn’t so long ago that we were putting them in pies 24 at a time. If their tiny little brains could think, I’m sure they’d deem us evil too.

It’s my belief that mankind must not work in harmony with nature but must conquer it, through genetic modification, forcible contraception, and whatnot. We must build a better natural world, where the meek creatures inherit the Earth, and the likes of cheetahs are carefully monitored until they adapt to their new diet of tofu and salad. Now, if you’ll permit me, I’d like to conclude with an evil laugh.

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