Friday, 6 May 2011

They're Grrrreat!

What did you do today? Wake up and go to work? Sit in an office with some people you would gladly kill? Watch the clock get closer to 5pm and further away from your dreams? I ate a whole tub of houmous while wearing only my socks and pants. That was my highlight. Oh, I got a wrong number phone call. That was fun. Always nice to meet new people. And my footlump fell off! That was brilliant. Don’t worry, I’ve kept it if you want to have a look at it. The thing is, spending too much time in just my underwear and eating whole tubs of things is basically all I do. Those two things will take up the bulk of my autobiography (working title: Leggerice Allsorts – Tales of Titters and Tears). But I know someone who is probably never bored because, instead of doing what we do, she looks after two tigers for a living.

I really like going to the zoo. Not many vegans like the zoo, for obvious reasons, but I really like it. I think if you see a zoo that is treating animals cruelly for yourself then you’re much more likely to do something about it than if you just read about it in the newspaper. Put it this way, avoid Lisbon Zoo. Or don’t. No such problems with London Zoo though. It’s utterly fantastic.

The animals there look amazing and, as far as I can see, seem to be there for a reason. The only questionable thing I saw was a monument dedicated to “The Victorians and their love of animals”. Erm… Anyway, I was giddy the whole day. Pushing children out of my way so I can get a better look at meerkats and having Johnny Morris’s voice in my head while looking at hippos. I even walked through the anus of a caterpillar. I did! I walked through the anus of a caterpillar. The butterfly house is in the shape of a caterpillar and you have to enter via the anus. Just like a real caterpillar. The butterflies were my second favourite animal. The tigers were my favourite because Andrea looks after them and also because I got to feed them.

Backstage at any rock gig is brick wall tedious compared to getting backstage at a zoo. There’s no booze but that might be a good thing as there are tigers there (I’m not saying there aren’t tigers backstage at rock gigs, obviously. I’ve heard Jim Bob’s stories). You know what? There’s a strange feeling of fear that runs right through you when you’re about to meet a pair of tigers. It’s like meeting Madonna and Prince. You’re told where to stand and what to do before they get there and you know if you don’t do what you’re told they’ll rip your arm off. Not that I was going to be directly in the same room as Gary and Gary (that’s the Tiger’s names…alright, they’re called Raika and Lumpar). God, no. There was green wire in between me and them. Safety first, eh?

Raika came into the backstage room first. She paced the room for a bit and decided that she wasn’t going to kill me today. Lumpar was next and he was being enigmatic. He walked in and lay down. We had only just met and he was bored of me already. They hadn’t really come into this room to meet me. They came into get fed. Luckily, I had made enough tofu salad for all three of us.

After a massive fight, Andrea, a trained and highly experienced zoo keeper, persuaded me that the meat she had in a bag might be more the thing that Tigers like. I reluctantly bowed to her advice but left the Tigers some PETA leaflets and badges. I picked up the evil meat with tongs and was told to feed Raika by holding the food low down for her. I’d been in the room with the tigers for about 10 minutes by this time and was feeling confident. Feeding Tigers is fun. THEY’RE TIGERS, FOR FUCK’S SAKE! I wanted to feed Lumpar now. Same thing. Meat on tongs, keep low. Brilliant. Lumpar insisted on keeping low. He was lying down looking glamorous and wasn’t going to lift his head slightly for the likes of me. Can I feed him again? Can I? Can I? Can I? BRILLIANT! Meat on tongs, low down… Oh. Change of plan. This time Andrea said to hold the meat up high so that Lumpar would get up and get it. You know, a little fun Tiger trick.

Lumpar stared at the food above him. I had broken our agreement: I keep the food low down and he doesn’t kill me. He growled. Ever had a Tiger growl at you personally? It’s great. Lovely. Really relaxes your bumhole. He stood up but the food was being held by me even higher so he stood up on his back legs towering over me with his front paws on the wire balancing him. Now, I’m not saying I was scared but a thin layer of sweat broke out over every part of my body.

Feeding Jerk is going to be pretty dull now.

Then while the Tigers were hanging out backstage, I got to go into their lair. I actually walked out into the Tiger enclosure. There’s an incredible look on people’s faces when they see an ordinary bloke just walking around in there. We hid food for the Tigers all around their enclosure to encourage a more natural habitat. Obviously, in the wild bits of meat aren’t just placed there by me but it was incredible seeing the Tigers climbing and foraging. I was out of the enclosure by this time. You can find out more about the zoo’s enrichment work at

It’s weird being vegan and handing out meat but I feel more vegany than ever because of the experience. That said, I was worried when I suggested to Andrea that if the zoo had, say, a really sick antelope that couldn’t be cured they should put it in the tiger’s enclosure. Andrea agreed. Apparently, it’s illegal. Right, I’m off for a dairy-free meatless falafel.

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