Chicago Zoo

By Lloyd Graff

Victor Felix, 16-year-old shot dead in Chicago June 1, 2016.

Within the first week of June 2016, 13 Chicagoans have been shot and killed, primarily in the war zone called the South Side of Chicago.

In Cincinnati a 17-year-old well-behaved gorilla was in the wrong place at the wrong time when a 4-year-old child wiggled into his living space. Anxious zookeepers followed protocol and shot the gorilla to save the child.

A week earlier at a zoo in Chile a seemingly deranged man snuck into the big cat area, stripped naked and offered his flesh to the lions. The zookeepers obeyed their preset ground rules and shot two lions dead to save the suicidal human.

One could argue that 4-year-old kids are more at risk on a June Saturday night in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago than in the lair of a generally quiescent gorilla in daylight.

June 1, 16-year-old Victor Felix was eaten by the awful violence in Chicago’s war zone. At 8:44 a.m. he was walking in the lion’s den of violence, the 4100 block of West 56th Street., just blocks away from his high school, when he was gunned down in a drive-by shooting. Such incidents happen every day in Chicago’s Aleppo. Felix had no zookeeper to shoot his potential killer. These days, many of Chicago’s armed “zookeepers” are afraid to guard the city’s war zone too closely for a myriad of reasons. Can we fully blame them?

We want to blame the mom at the Cincinnati zoo, but an inquisitive 4-year-old at a zoo can be a dangerous sneak. The nutty guy in Chile was saved from the fate he seemingly was asking for. I’m happy for him, I think, and a little sad for the lions who were prepared to do what lions do. Who is to blame for Felix’s murder?

What kind of town is Chicago where hundreds of kids get eaten up each year by wandering into the neighborhood war zone?

Question: Are parents of murdered children to blame for not taking them out of war zone neighborhoods?

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5 thoughts on “Chicago Zoo

  1. MM

    “In Cincinnati a 17-year-old well-behaved gorilla was in the wrong place at the wrong time when a 4-year-old child wiggled into his living space. Anxious zookeepers followed protocol and shot the gorilla to save the child.”

    Wrong place and wrong time? This makes it sound like the Gorilla was innocent of doing anything. There is video online and eye witness testimony showing it manhandling and dragging the kid by the ankle through the water and observatory.

    I initially asked why tranquilizers weren’t used, however it could make the animal even angrier killing the kid in a fit of rage. Then we would all be sitting here blaming the zoo for not shooting it.

    We can all play the game of hindsight. Fact is kids get lose sometimes unfortunately, any parent knows this. One moment you’re finishing a sentence with someone, and the next they are 10ft from you. But end of the day, the Zoo should have better safeguards against free roaming children entering dangerous areas. Parents, keep your kids on leashes

  2. Randy

    In the case of the lion & gorilla unfortunately the issue may come down to level of advocacy potential against the “zookeepers” versus those int he city streets of Chicago and many other towns around the country. The gentleman before noted there was video and second guessing or hindsight, not to mention editing and other “eye witness accounts” that put the zookeepers at odds with what should be doing the right thing, while they try to decide if they want to get involved.

    Your question at the end asking if the parents are to blame for not moving their kids from a war zone is only part of the issue. The zoo for the little boy should be safe, as well as for the lion & the gorilla. But barriers are only effective when the “animals” on both sides of the barriers are willing and able to let the others co-exist while expressing curiosity and learning from one another.

    It is somewhat like the shooting out here in LA at the UCLA campus, the college is a place for learning, exchange of ideas and challenging of others to propel better ones and reach higher opportunities. But we have grown into a society that devalues others and life simply because we feel harmed, hurt, take advantage of. Those kids living in the war zones are and the parents that feel trapped there are always in peril. But if they don’t get involved in figuring out the ideas for taking back their cities, block by block, park by park, school by school, then the zookeepers will never be effective. Unfortunately the ones that currently win that battle are the gangs, they have banded together and take control, unfortunately they don’t have the leadership or vision to look beyond the environment of struggle and violence as a way to move beyond the never ending struggle to be on top. Until the leader of the gang can take that energy and passion and move it to something positive they will get more violent and it will be less safe as the gangs breed internal competition.

  3. Joan

    How about we give the police the right to actually police the streets and stop being so PC about everything.!!!! Yikes this is more than a testament to allowing more and more crime for our kids and the environment they grow up in. When I was a kid I HAD to be in by the time the street lights came on. If I didn’t there were consequences. There are no longer any consequences just poor examples of parenting making everyone else responsible.

  4. Lloyd Graff

    I know question is a hard one and some may resent the implication of blaming the victim, but I do blame parents for staying in the war zone and allowing their childten to be so exposed. Section 8 housing options exist. Relatives can take kids in. Maybe you take tefuge in the South. You may see yourself as a helpless victim but do you have to make your kids wounded or dead victims? Care enough to at least keep them out of the lion cage.

  5. Maury

    I don’t have a good answer to your question, Lloyd, because the situation in those dangerous neighborhoods is very complex, and includes why well meaning people permit their neighborhoods to deteriorate to such unsafe places in the first place. However, I do have thoughts regarding risks to humans in zoos. I’ll express them, knowing that most people will disagree with me

    If it were up to me zoos would be abolished. Wild animals that are caught and placed in zoos are essentially enslaved for the benefit of humans. This presents a moral issue that troubles me. I’ll quickly acknowledge that I’m not a vegan, or even a vegetarian, which makes me somewhat of a hypocrite, but if we can get past that I’ll continue with my thoughts relating to zoos.

    Humans make the protocols for zoos. Given that zoos exist, I agree with the protocol that protects human life, even in cases where someone does something stupid. Why? Because, for one thing, it would put an awful responsibility on zoo employees to make the call regarding whether someone with a death wish should die, to save innocent, and sometimes rare, animals. However, the killing of innocent animals who are kept in captivity against their will is wrong, in my opinion. Of course, there are far worse examples around the world of bad things that people do, but that falls outside what we’re discussing here.

    Modern technology provides a solution to the zoo issue. I’m referring to virtual reality (VR), which is getting better all the time. While VR isn’t a perfect substitute for zoos, it’s the solution I would vote for. It could provide children and adults with many more visual animal experiences than zoos. It could even include the smells, to enhance the sensory realism associated with observing animals. In addition, VR would be far cheaper than zoos. In my opinion it would be the preferable compromise.


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