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Let's face facts: Animals can sometimes be a-holes

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I'm too preoccupied to write anything cheeky and pithy this week. Tomorrow, I've got to go to the hospital and have a metal plate and a load of screws put in the collarbone I broke four months ago that never healed.

It's not my fault, just the geometry of the fracture. Worse yet, it's not even the doctor's fault. There's no one to blame. Unless, of course, I break a cardinal rule of human correctness and blame the one who actually caused it: my horse. That asshole.

I know, I know. You're not supposed to blame animals for anything. They just do what animals do, and unlike us, are incapable of pre-meditation or sin. Well, I think this is a load of spicy bollocks (see a Brit/American dictionary). We endow animals with humanlike virtues all the time: the heroic cat who goes and fetches all of her kittens out of the burning building at the expense of her own hide; the plucky dolphin who pushes the stranded rafter to shore; the way-beyond-the-call-of-duty labrador who fetches his owner's wedding ring out of the toilet.

If animals can have human virtues, why can't they have human foibles as well? The answer is, they can and do. The following is a list, in no particular order, of prominent animal assholes.

1) Montecore: On Oct. 3, 2003, a 7-year-old white tiger called Montecore nearly took trainer Roy Horn's head off. Horn, who suffered massive blood loss and a subsequent stroke, is still recovering. He claims the tiger never meant to hurt him. Most animal behaviorists, however, disagree, claiming the wound was a fairly typical tiger "kill bite." Montecore has practically admitted as much, and in an interview with Larry King, revealed that, while he likes Horn very much, he was in a bad mood that day since his "tail wouldn't fluff," a tragedy in animal showbiz circles. Known to be moody, Montecore said, "Would it have been that big a deal for the man to go out and buy some conditioner? And why'd he have to practically put his neck in his mouth anyway? I'm a tiger. What was I supposed to do? Give him a hicky?"

2) Orky: Orcas are supposed to be the gentle giants of the oceans, right? Nobody told Marineland's Orky that fact. In the early 1970s, he grabbed one of his trainers by the leg, took him to the bottom of the pool and held him there. He was heard to utter in the holding pen later, "Wow. That was easy." So easy, that a few years later, he took another trainer to the bottom and held her there for four minutes. He remarked to one of his pen mates, "Jesus. These things are easier to drown than herrings."

It's been pointed out that unlike Montecore, who is generally considered to be a nice enough guy who was simply a little tetchy the day he grabbed Horn, Orky's attitude and behavior was routinely asshole-ish. When confronted with this fact by Larry King, Orky countered, "Hey, you'd be a dick, too, if you had to live in a fishbowl and eat dead squid day in and day out."

3) Minnie: On March 5, 2006, an Asian elephant called Minnie, of the Commerford Petting Zoo, injured two employees while giving rides at the Best Western Royal Trade Center in Marlborough, Mass. However, Minnie took exception to being labeled anything other than a fine example of the pachyderm family. "I'm an elephant, damn it! Whose dumb idea was it to put me in a petting zoo? Chickens, I can see. Even goats. But elephants? As far as we're concerned, anyone dumb enough to put one of us in a petting zoo deserves whatever they get. What's next, pet the friendly Nile crocodile in the Best Buy parking lot? Holy shit!"

These are only a few examples. Dozens of others spring to mind. Koko the sign-language gorilla was an egregiously bad tipper. Lolly the raven, famous toolmaker and solver of partial differential equations, was famous for crapping on visiting children's heads. And the first thing Ham the chimpanzee did upon being pried out of his space capsule was try to bite his trainer's face off. His trainer remarked later on Larry King Live, "I give him a free trip to outer space, and that's the thanks I get. What an asshole."

So I don't see it as unreasonable at all to blame my horse for my current situation. Oh, I forgive him. He's mostly a nice guy, and the truth is, we all have bad days. Then we act out.

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