Posts Tagged ‘animals’

Dear Sesame Street: Please stop teaching kids it’s OK to feed wild animals

Not even the squirrels. That's how serious this is, folks.

Not even the squirrels. That’s how serious this is, folks.

Though I know I’m not “supposed to,” every once in a while I break down and let my toddler watch a limited amount of TV, because sometimes it’s the only thing that keeps my sanity intact on a day that involves multiple meltdowns and outfit changes.

I make myself feel OK about this by putting on Sesame Street, since hey, at least it’s educational! Or so I thought.

Recently we watched an episode in which Elmo and Friend go on a camping trip. Elmo’s incessant need to piercingly narrate every damn thing they do apparently attracts all the woodland creatures within a 12-mile radius, and soon Elmo is inviting them to stay for dinner. Before you know it, a beaver, some turtles, a few raccoons and an entire flock of ducks are on their second helping of dandelion soup in what is clearly the start of their never-ending dependence on humans to provide basic sustenance.

All right. I know some of you might think I’m blowing this out of proportion. They’re not even real animals, for chrissakes. They’re puppets. PUPPETS. And it’s not like every toddler who watched the episode immediately started using Goldfish crackers to coax some new fluffy friends to live in their garage, dooming them to a life of human-fed captivity.

But hear me out. Less than 24 hours after watching this episode, I saw this unfortunate news:

Yellowstone

Think this is mere coincidence? Think again. It’s quite clear Sesame Street is at fault for each and every stupid tourist-wildlife encounter in recorded history.

OK, that’s a mild exaggeration. But sadly, it’s not unusual to hear a lot stories like this in Montana and other Western states, where it seems residents and wildlife intersect more regularly than in other parts of the country. Most of us grew up learning it’s not OK to try to feed or touch the wildlife.

Apparently, some idiot tourists don’t understand that Yellowstone National Park, et al., is not a goddamn petting zoo, and the animals don’t need you to feed them a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in order to survive. And that by doing these things, you’re actually risking both your and the animals’ lives.

Obviously, Sesame Street is not solely at fault for people thinking it’s OK to feed and/or touch wild animals. (And I admit, I’m making quite the cognitive leap by even trying to connect these two specific incidents.)

The thing is though, you also can’t only blame the idiots, either. When it comes down to it, most of them just don’t know any better. Where many of these tourists are from, close encounters with actual wildlife happen next to never, and when they do, they actually are in a goddamn petting zoo.

It’s kind of like when a tourist from Montana, who may or may not write a blog that rhymes with “Thuirrel Proughts,” stops in the middle of the sidewalk in New York City to stare up and take a photo of a skyscraper, because it’s something she doesn’t see every day at home. Doing so is apparently Extremely Annoying to resident New Yorkers (albeit slightly less Life Threatening than sharing a s’more with a wolverine, but I digress.)

Ya know what though? At the time, she just didn’t know any better.

You know what could’ve helped her know better? An episode of Sesame Street in which Big Bird’s country-born cousin Pudgy Pigeon comes for a visit, and someone with a thick Bronx accent yells “Hey, I’m walkin’ here!” after she abruptly stops to take a selfie in front of the restaurant from Seinfeld. Then she would’ve known better.

(Or a quick Google search. That probably would’ve done the trick, too.)

Anyway, the point I’m getting at is that while the premise of this Sesame Street bit seems innocuous, who knows what seeds it’s already planted in the heads of tiny city-born tots who might try to hug a grizzly bear in Alaska a decade from now. Because according to a beloved children’s program, befriending wild animals and inviting them over for pizza and a sleepover is just a normal part of experiencing the Great Outdoors.

So, in a feeble attempt to counter the damage already done — and with that air of smug self-righteousness you’ve come to expect on Squirrel Thoughts — I’m offering some tips for any potential tourists who still might not know any better:

  1. DO NOT TOUCH THE WILDLIFE.
  2. DO NOT FEED THE WILDLIFE.
  3. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO BEFRIEND THE WILDLIFE. NO MATTER HOW CUTE AND FLUFFY IT LOOKS. YOU ARE NOT MOTHERFUCKING SNOW WHITE. THE ANIMALS DO NOT WANT TO BE YOUR FRIENDS. THEY WILL MAUL YOU AT THE DROP OF A HAT. OR CHEETO. ESPECIALLY A CHEETO.
  4. ENJOY THE MAJESTIC CREATION THAT IS NATURE FROM A SAFE VIEWING DISTANCE.

I apologize for the stilted Internet yelling, but it’s the only chance I have at drowning out the children’s media behemoth that is Sesame Street.

Also, if you prefer information from legitimate resources, here are few:

Four reasons not to feed wildlife

Wildlife safety in Glacier National Park

Yellowstone visitors place bison calf in SUV; newborn euthanized

(FOR THE RECORD: I realize that other states, even on the East Coast, have wildlife, and that not everyone who visits from those locales are completely oblivous about how to interact with wild animals. I also realize that many of the tourists who commit these transgressions are from other countries, and who knows what kind of access they have to Sesame Street. In turn, I hope anyone offended by this — including but not limited to Elmo, Big Bird, Cookie Monster and, especially, Snuffy — realizes that it’s all in good fun. Unless you have tried to caress a mountain goat. Then you should read that shit a few more times.)

 

Three very good reasons NOT to get your kids a bunny for Easter

 

Easter rabbit

Bunnies are family, too.

 

One Easter when I was a kid, I desperately wanted to walk down the stairs to our living room and find a real, live bunny wabbit lounging in my basket. I found a stuffed rabbit instead, because my parents thought they were so flippin’ hilarious, and that I would think so, too. I did not.

Fast-forward 15 years, and — in my most rebellious act of adult independence to date — I got MY OWN DAMN RABBIT, thankyouverymuch.

Fwuffy-wuffy wufferton

Pancake!

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However, we only brought Pancake home after doing extensive research on what’s required to care for a pet bunny. And now I know — though it pains me so to admit — my parents were right. Rabbits are not necessarily great pets for children.

I don’t know the exact statistics, but somewhere around a shit-ton of bunnies bought as Easter gifts end up abandoned in animal shelters only a few weeks later, because parents don’t realize what they’re getting into when they buy their little darlings a rabbit.

So, with Easter right around the corner, I am here to help you parents who find yourselves in this very predicament. Though I could ramble off dozens of others, here are three very good reasons NOT to get your kids a bunny for Easter, no matter how much they beg.

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1. Bunnies are not like other house pets. At all.

A bunny is not just a dog or cat with longer ears and a fwuffy-wuffy tail. If you and your kids think a pet rabbit is going to play fetch or purr when you scratch its ears, you will be sorely disappointed. Unlike cats and dogs, rabbits are prey animals, meaning it takes them a while to trust that you are not going to eat them.

How long is “a while”? Well, we have had Pancake for six years, and until last year, she would not let us pet her without running away. It literally took FIVE YEARS to earn her trust. She still won’t let us pick her up without using the Bunny Burrito technique. And she certainly doesn’t care for our 1-year-old’s ham-fisted attempts at “petting” her.

So look. I’m sure your kids are perfect and deserve everything their little hearts desire. They are brilliant and talented and will probably discover the cure for alektorophobia some day. But I’d be willing to bet no less than a triplequadrillion dollars they don’t have an attention span of five minutes, let alone five years.

 

 

2. Rabbits live longer than you think. A lot longer.

Contrary to popular belief, when properly cared for, rabbits can live 10 to 12 years. They require the love and attention of responsible caregivers, which could — but probably doesn’t — include your precious offspring.

Bunnies are not just some pet you can buy for your kids that will die in a few months that you can use as a “circle of life” teaching moment. I mean, I guess you could purposely not properly care for a bunny so you can get that uncomfortable conversation out of the way. But that would be kind of a dick move.

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3. Rabbits chew. Everything.

Yeah, I know dogs chew up stuff, too. But rabbits aren’t just going to chew your favorite slippers that you can easily replace via Amazon. Left to its own devices, a rabbit could literally chew you out of house and home.

See this stylish combination of rugs and sheets here?

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Rugs and sheets

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The only reason these exist in our home is because we need something to cover the edge where the living room carpet meets the kitchen tile. Otherwise, Pancake would chew the carpet there into oblivion. We also have a giant cardboard box that covers the various cords behind our TV stand, because she will chew those — and possibly shock herself — if we don’t.

And this is just the beginning of what it would take to bunny-proof your home. If you’re not convinced, you can read more about what it’s like to live in a house with a bunny in it here.

Now, we love our fwuffy-wuffy Pancake to the ends of the earth, and we are willing to put up with these lifestyle adjustments for her. But are you willing to do this? For a pet that will likely bore your children in a few weeks because it doesn’t act the way they want it to? One that you will probably abandon at a shelter, where it could have an even more unfortunate fate?

If, after reading this, you are ready to make the commitment of owning a rabbit, then please consider adopting one from a shelter instead of buying one at a pet store. (Full disclosure: We got Pancake from a pet store, because we didn’t know any better. We do now, and so do you.)

If you’re not ready to make this commitment, please don’t buy your kids a rabbit. I promise they will forgive you, eventually. Or, they’ll hold it against you until they’re old enough to buy their own damn bunny. But at least by then, they’ll be more likely to accept the responsibility that comes with it.

Important questions I’ve pondered while reading classic children’s books to my infant daughter

“The Cat in the Hat”

Is the Cat and the Hat holding Thing 1 and Thing 2 against their will? Are they getting enough clean food and water while he peddles them across the country in a crate with no air holes? Is PETA aware of the situation? Wait, are Things 1 and 2 even animals? Do they dye their hair blue or is it naturally that color? If I wore footy pajamas like theirs to work, would I get fired?

b

Things 1 and 2

b

“Guess How Much I Love You”

Why does Big Nutbrown Hare have to constantly one-up Little Nutbrown Hare? Can’t he just let him win at the Guess How Much I Love You game, even once? When Little Nutbrown Hare says he loves him to the flippin’ moon, can’t he just be like “Whoa, the moon? That’s so far — no way I can top that! I’d never say anything like ‘well hey, I’m pretty impressed you love me all the way to the moon, but guess what — I love you to the moon … and back! Suck it, Little Nutbrown Hare!’ No, I’d never say anything super douchey like that”?
 b
 To moon and back
b
 b
Does Big Nutbrown Hare also never let Little Nutbrown Hare win when they play Candy Land? Does he show off with fancy hook shots and dunks when playing a friendly game of HORSE with the neighborhood kiddos? Is he overcompensating for something? Does he also drive an obnoxiously large truck?
b

“Where the Wild Things Are”

Why does this one Wild Thing have human feet? Is he the mutant result of some sort of unethical science experiment gone horribly wrong? What in the actual fuck, Maurice Sendak? Why would you do this to me my sweet baby girl? How many years of therapy am I is my child going to need to stop having nightmares about the human-footed Wild Thing??
 b
Where-the-wild-things-are
b

“Goodnight, Moon”

Is the mush gluten-free?
b
Goodnight Moon

Oh no! I gave birth to a baby squirrel instead of a baby human!

Baby squirrel

OK, not really. But I did hold a baby squirrel! One of Zach’s co-workers brought it into the office after she found it abandoned and helpless in her yard. So I had to go in and meet it, of course.

I thought maybe I shouldn’t hold it because I’m pregnant, and what if it bit me and turned our human baby into a squirrel baby? Or caused something that’s actually biologically possible, like infect us with a nasty disease? The co-worker assured me that she had taken it to the vet, who confirmed it’s disease-free, so I went for it. But if I do give birth to an actual squirrel, we’ll know why.

19 photos I couldn’t bear to delete to make room for the iOS8 update

Apple released the latest iOS update for iPhone today. And, in what may be the firstest of First World Problems, it has everyone complaining about how much storage space is needed to download it. This means deleting a lot of useless apps and selfie duplicates.

Because I’m currently unemployed, I had a lot of time to really comb through my photos and only keep those nearest and dearest to my heart. Here are 19 I just couldn’t bear to part with.

1. This photo of me standing in front of a Beef ‘O’ Brady’s in a snowstorm

BOB'S

We’ve all done it.

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2. This photo of Pancake in which it looks like she doesn’t have ears

Pancake no ears

We did not chop off her ears, I swear. She still has them. We are not bunny abusers. Please don’t report us to animal control.

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3. This photo of a squirrel-shaped nutcracker

Nutcracker

If you’re cracking your nuts with anything else … you’re doing it wrong.

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4. This photo of me holding what I assume is a life-sized replica of Chewbacca as a baby

Chewie

If my child’s head is this big, she’ll be living in my uterus indefinitely.

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5. This photo of the face I made after getting the World’s Worst Haircut

Bad haircut

It kind of made me look like Toad from Super Mario. Or a literal squire.

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6. This photo of when we met The Great Pumpkin

Giant pumpkin

It was, like, really big.

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7. This photo of when I made latkes because I like to pretend I’m Jewish around Hanukkah

Latkes

The smell also lasted much longer than anticipated.

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8. This photo of the time I totally nailed a Pinterest recipe

Pinterest fail

If someone tries to feed you food that looks like this, do not eat it. I repeat: DO NOT EAT IT.

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9. This photo of Zach pretending to get stabbed in the eye with a dart

Dart

He kind of looks like he’s enjoying it …

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10. This photo of a guy on the sidewalk dressed up as a giant bottle of shampoo

Shampoo

I just really admired his enthusiasm.

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11. This photo of the time I spilled pho on my pants at lunch

Pho

If I don’t document these memories, who will?

***

12. This photo of blatant desecration of religious symbols in the workplace

Religious discrimination

For those of you who also like to discriminate against “other” religions, this is a menorah and a miniature Festivus pole.

It’s like this newsroom has never even heard of the First Amendment.

***

13. This photo of a lawn gnome a business donated to be a prize in an Easter egg hunt I used to plan

Gnome

 You would not believe the knock-down-drag-out that ensued between two fifth-graders battling over this coveted creature.

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14. This photo demonstrating that many people do not understand appropriate use of quotation marks

Quotes

Sooooooo … can I get some Fanta or not?

***

15. This photo of a guy on the sidewalk dressed as a Big Blue Blob

Blue guy

WARNING: If you are dressed up as anything — literally, anything — in public, I will stop and take your photo.

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16. This photo of a delicious lobster dinner I enjoyed back in March

Lobster

Back off. It could be the last one I ever get.

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17. This photo of a cardboard cutout of my childhood hero, Scruff McGruff (Chicago, Illinois, 60652)

McGruff

He’s the only thing that kept me from pursuing a life of hard crime.

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18. This photo I took of Pancake in which she looks completely hammered

Drunk Pancake

Jesus. It’s like I want someone to call animal control on us.

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19. This photo of me touching the World’s Largest Purple Spoon (maybe)

Spoon

I think they’re selling themselves short. This is probably the World’s Largest Purple Spoon, at least.

 

I suppose now that these images will live in perpetuity on the Internet, I can delete them from my phone. The emotional toll still might be too much though. Better play it safe and keep them this round.

I must leave this place immediately

Someone posted this photo to the Facebook page of a local TV station recently:

Snake

That is a snake. What kind of snake? A huge-ass one. Just chillin’ out on a sidewalk, right in the middle of the town in which I live.

This is the worst thing that’s ever happened.

The worst part about the worst thing that’s ever happened? The corner listed with the photo is wrong, because it does not exist. (Avenues intersect with streets, not other avenues.) So I don’t even know where it actually was.

IT COULD BE ANYWHERE.

It could be somewhere I run a lot.

It could be right outside our apartment building.

It could be under our bed, waiting for me to go to sleep so it can slither around my arm and hiss in my face, causing me to scream myself to death.

THIS PLACE IS NO LONGER SAFE. I MUST LEAVE IT IMMEDIATELY.

Some people just don’t want squirrels to succeed

Perhaps you’ve seen this video of a badass squirrel hi-jacking a model airplane and performing some death-defying stunts. It’s delightful.

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Some people, like whoever wrote this article, will try to tell you it’s a hoax. These people are total downers who don’t want you to believe that squirrels are capable of such spectacular accomplishments. Don’t buy into it. This is pure, unadulterated Squirrel Magic, kids. Believe it.

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