Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bipeds - the threatening kind - in our midst

A CALENDAR from the African Wildlife Foundation rose to the top of one of the stacks on my desk that told me we are in the midst of the "Year of the Gorilla." I'm not sure how it got there, although I am such a softy about animals that seldom does a day pass that I don't hear from one of the scores of wildlife outfits seeking a dollar or two. I do what I can.

Month after month, the calendar offers different photos of these menacing-looking but peaceful creatures of the wild and despite all else you might have been told about what are surely our ancestors, I've never seen a gorilla I didn't like. Well, sort of. In fact I was quite taken by Dian Fossey's book, Gorillas in the Mist, dealing with her unyielding efforts to protect the Rwandan mountain gorillas from poachers. So as editor of the Beacon Journal's Sunday News & Views Section years ago, I ran a long and beautifully written two part series about her work from the Washington Post that appeared on successive Sundays (to the astonishment and dismay of some insensitive hominids at the paper.)

I realize that I am treading on perilous ground. If this love story reaches a certain audience, I will have at least two dozen more wildlife calendars dispatched to me with promises of various tote bags or coffee mugs.

Unfortunately, there will be a notable absence among the new calendars. With full apologies to the gorilla population I wonder who will be the first to publish an annual calendar featuring some of the virulent apes who have been creating havoc in Congress with their incoherent mountaintop shrieks against health care reform.

Unfortunately the African Wildlife Foundation's well intentioned gorilla calendar has overlooked the possibilities of broadening its reach.

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