Circle of Lunch

Copenhagen Zoo said it euthanized [a healthy young giraffe] on Sunday because of a duty to avoid inbreeding. After an autopsy, “Marius” was dismembered in front of a zoo audience that included children.... The carcass was used partly for research and partly to feed carnivores at the zoo—lions, tigers, and leopards. “In this case we would never throw away 200 kilograms of meat,” said Bengt Holst, scientific director at the zoo. – CNN, February 9, 2014

Ladies and gentlemen, please, if I may have your attention. There is much I need to explain, it would seem.

In the first place: I have no intention of sugar-coating the fact that the zoo did put down, carve up in front of visitors of all ages, and then distribute among certain other animals as well as research departments the body of a healthy young giraffe named Marius. Indeed, there has been no sugar-coating at all. Lions, tigers, and leopards prefer their giraffe meat raw and otherwise unadulterated. Except for Flavia, one of the zoo’s female tiger cubs, who lately had been refusing most food and requiring that she be hand-fed by a different handler what little she would deign to consume. This unusual behavior, as you can imagine, was causing a drain on human resources and generally irritating the other tigers. Accordingly, yesterday afternoon, Flavia was euthanized, carved up, and fed to the zoo’s polar bears.

If you’ve visited the polar bear pit recently, you might have noticed that one long-time resident of the zoo—and a favorite of visitors—has been absent. Sadly, Ursula passed away late last year at the ripe old age of 28. An autopsy revealed significant deterioration of several of Ursula’s organs, so it would not have been appropriate to carve up her body and feed her to any other animals in the zoo. Ursula’s body was dumped into the ocean. Sadly, Ursula’s passing was taken very hard by her companion, the male polar bear Cnaeus, who became visibly depressed and refused to leave his artificial cave. Because of the effect that Cnaeus’s melancholy was having on visitors to the zoo, many of them children who wanted to know why the big white bear was sad, the decision was finally made to euthanize Cnaeus. He was put down last night, just before the zoo closed, then carved up and fed to the birds of prey in the Avian Sanctuary, where a birthday party for a nine-year-old was just wrapping up.

This morning, however, as you might have heard, zoo staffers discovered that several birds of prey had managed to escape the Avian Sanctuary and, having gotten a taste for polar bear, lain siege to the polar bear pit, waiting for the zoo’s remaining polar bears—the twin cubs Romulus and Remus—to appear. Fortunately, the polar bear cubs remained hidden, but zoo sharpshooters were nevertheless forced to take out seventeen large, unnamed birds of various types in order to maintain peace at the zoo, which opened at its regular time.

The good news, however, is two-fold: None of the birds belonged to an endangered species, and because all of the birds were in good health before being killed, they can be eaten. So, ladies and gentlemen of the press, I invite you now to enjoy your lunches, prepared by the zoo’s own chef, and afterward you will be escorted to the Jørn V. Larsen-Olsen Memorial Abattoir where you may retrieve your personal effects.

Matthew David Brozik wrote this and many other short humor pieces, which have been published in print and online by The New Yorker, Adult Swim, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Grin & Tonic, The Big Jewel, and no one.

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