"I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant's sexually adventurous, one hundred per-cent."
Yesterday Pharyngula posted a link to this video. I did not watch it, nor should you. It's an instructional video showing how to masturbate an elephant properly. Perhaps I'm over-reacting here; just knowing that video exists has forced me to revisit a traumatic experience. To my eternal shame -- though I know it's not my fault -- I have borne witness to deviant elephant sexuality. It was far from pretty.
Look, let's be serious. I am pro-zoo, but there are some animals that simply do not belong in a zoo setting. You look at the elephants in their pen, and it's hard to avoid the idea that given the size and nature of their confinement, what you're seeing is the equivalent of making a small group of people live in a goddamned bathroom. Elephants are long-lived, wide-roaming and highly intelligent. It's no wonder that they'd get a little crazy after being forced into a small enclosure for years.
I remember when I was a kid, some lunatic at the Oakland Zoo decided it would be a good idea to put a baby elephant into the children's zoo. While it was behind bars you could reach and pet its head. Which meant that it could reach out with its trunk and pet you. I was enchanted, of course, and the elephant seemed to take a shine to me. I spent a long time talking to it, scratching its head, letting it put its trunk around me.
But when I thought it was time for me to move on, the elephant thought otherwise. It grabbed my arm and stuck it in-between its trunk and its little baby tusks, and it would not let me go. Poor thing must have been lonely, but it was a curious position for me. On one hand, there was a sense of being deeply complimented. My love of animals made this an experience to be remembered and relished.
Still, it was a bit uncomfortable to think that my new friend could easily break my arm with his nose. After a while some keepers came. One distracted the elephant with apples while the other two pulled me loose. I came out of it feeling sad for the elephant, who must have been very lonely.
A few years ago, I went back to the Oakland Zoo with the Hon. Richard Talleywhacker and his son, who was a toddler at that point. The zoo had changed drastically since I was a child, and all for the better. The vast majority of the animals seemed to have been properly housed, and there was a general lack of that prison-camp atmosphere that can make a zoo one of the most depressing treats life has to offer.
Until we got to the elephants.
We wheeled the slumbering Young Master Talleywhacker up the ramp to the elephant enclosure.
"Should we wake the kid up?" I asked.
"Give him a few minutes," Richard said. And then I saw something that made me very glad that innocent child had his little eyes shut.
If your life is anything like mine, from time to time you find yourself staring helplessly at some abomination, muttering, "Please be a hallucination. Please be a hallucination. Please..."
It never is. Hallucinations are nowhere near as weird and appalling as reality.
"Richard," I said. "Is that actually fucking happening, or are my eyes bad?"
"Dude," he said. "Oh, dude. That ain't right."
At first glance I thought one elephant was pressing its head against the ass of another elephant. Which was true. But where was its trunk?
Where was its trunk?
Elephant A had its trunk firmly and fully inserted up the ass of Elephant B. I mean all the way. All-the-way.
Thanks to the internet, I can tell you that an African elephant's trunk is five to six feet long and weighs up to four hundred pounds. Now that is what I call a serious butt plug. I mean, an elephant's ass is pretty roomy, but still. And what the fuck do you even call that act? A Serengeti Steamer? Naso-annilingus? Man, I wish I knew Latin.
I had to wonder if either of those pachydermatous degenerates was my childhood friend. As I said earlier, elephants are long lived.
As we stood there, stunned, things got worse. Elephant A pulled its shit-crusted trunk (Dude, I wanted to scream, that's your nose!) s-l-o-w-l-y -- sensously! -- out of Elephant B's asshole. Oh, that was bad.
And then, again, it got worse. When the tip of A's trunk finally saw the light of day, it was clutching a steaming lump of something green. Which A then popped into his mouth.
And then, chewing thoughtfully, he went back for more. He was actually reaching up the other elephant's ass so far he was able to grab the shit while it was still green. It made me want to floss.
"See," I said. "This is exactly why prison reform should be America's number one social issue."
That broke our horrified paralysis. Gently wheeling the babycart around so as not to awaken the slumbering infant, we silently went on our way.