LOS ANGELES - Last week, the militant animal rights organization BAMBI masterminded a spectacular "bust-out" of hundreds of zoo animals from the Yorba Loma Zoo, where they had been kept captive for many years. The bust-out reinforced the strength of BAMBI's popular support among animal lovers and has started to change the political balance between animals and people.
Over the years, BAMBI's armed branch has committed many violent acts that deserve criticism, but so have numerous others in the animal rights movement. With this bold movement, though, animal rights proponents hoped that the animals might take up the leadership of their own cause and stage mass uprisings. The result, they hoped, would be a harmonious and balanced co-existence of nature and humans.
However, many unexpected troubles have sent events spinning out of the control of the would-be liberators, leading some to question whether animals are ready for freedom.
A Bengal tiger went on a rampage, killing two young female activists, even as they urged the tiger to escape to the nearby hills. A mountain lion killed and carried off a capybara, a beaver sized rodent from South America. A bobcat likewise took advantage of several aimlessly wandering rabbits from the petting zoo.
Sean McGregor, an unofficial spokesman for the group, said, "We abhor this violence, though we accept that it is part of the growing pains of an egalitarian society of fellow animals. We especially decry the actions of the big cats, which seem to have no intention of affording peace and security to their prey."
Many of the savannah animals gathered into a large herd and proceeded to cross the interstate highway, where many were hit and maimed by traffic. Two motorists were also killed when a hartebeest slammed through their windshield.
One motorist in the halted traffic mounted the hood of his car and called the activists hypocrites, noting that they had themselves driven to the protest, and that they were wearing leather shoes and woolen sweaters. The protesters promised to campaign for the construction of more factories to produce synthetic fibers from oil, and then lit his car on fire. Activists formed a mob to attack the remaining motorists and urged closure and removal of all highways.
Police managed to shoot dead most of the dangerous animals, and rounded up about half of the large quadrupeds, though several had to be put down with injuries. Smaller animals were left to fend for themselves and are expected to die of starvation in the wild within a few days. No action has been taken against the protesters.
"There may have to be a transitional period in which humans remain engaged, to teach the animals respect for one another and to honor each other's basic rights," McGregor commented. The group plans another press release in a few days to discuss the status of hostages they took during the raid.
Future actions will probably focus more on attacks against animal researchers and their families and neighbors, and less on mass releases until the kinks can be worked out regarding the animals killing each other.