Too many peeps means too few penguins


African penguins commiserate at Lehigh Valley Zoo

Swamp Rabbit and I were on a sales job at the zoo, discussing what should be done about humans who destroy rainforests in order to expand production of palm oil and soybeans and so on. And how about the greedy owners of  those commercial fisheries who are helping kill off the African penguins?

“We should chop ’em into little pieces and feed ’em to the penguins,” the rabbit said.

He told me it’s not only fishing industry bosses who are villains, it’s the whole human race. It’s the fact that this sub-species of penguin, which is unique to southwestern African coastal areas, is running out of places to breed because human settlements keep expanding.

“But what are people supposed to do?” I said. “Just stop moving into places where wildlife live?”

“You got it,” he said. “There are way too many peeps, Odd Man. It’s time to cull the herd.”

Obviously, he was still reeling from the recent news that humans had helped wipe out 60 percent of the world’s wildlife since 1970. I was sorry I’d showed him the news story.

We strolled past a little water park reserved for North American river otters,  a woodsy patch for Mexican gray wolves (another  endangered sub-species),  a raccoon in an outdoor holding pen, and a porcupine and skunk in another. The long circular trail eventually took us back where we started. A zookeeper was feeding big chunks of fish to the penguins.

“Zoos give me the blues,” Swamp Rabbit said. “They ain’t nothing but jails, even the nice ones.”

“Not true,” I replied, watching the penguins chow down. “This zoo beats that shack in Tinicum where I live. The food here is better, too.”


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