Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Shasta the liger has a posse

I can’t believe all the attention that’s been showered on ligers lately. it’s really quite a milestone for them and for all hybrids, really. if only my favorite lion-tiger hybrid could have lived to see this day. Shasta was born nearly a half century ago this month, and lived through the better part of the cold war. she overcame all of the typical hardships that tend to afflict ligers: blindness, depression, growth dysplasia. anyone who grew up along the Wasatch front since then should not only think of Shasta as cheap soda pop but as our 1,000 lb unofficial community mascot- whether you saw her in the flesh or, like me, preserved in a gallant stance behind glass.

I don’t know about magic but it seems ligers are quite skillful at manipulating their zookeepers. mythical or not, the official story goes that they named her Shasta because they were always like, “she hasta have this” and “she hasta have that.” How do you like that? –preying on the selfless nature of zoology majors. but anyway, what suckers!

now it seems everyone’s got a liger. zoos all over, and they're increasingly required prerequisites for some of the better jobs in ringleadership. “no liger? forget it.” a real proliferation, I’m telling you. is this really good for us? how many ligers is enough? every one of them does deserve dignity, don’t get me wrong. but isn’t each individual a little diminished by the existence of so many? as if they didn’t have enough afflictions already. let’s remember, these aren’t sodas; they have feelings.


The Mediocre Gatsby said...

As soon as I heard you had moved from mummification to taxidermification, I couldn't wait to read about Shasta. Thank you. I was not dissapointed.

The Jehova's Witnesses have paintings of what they belive to be "paradise". Those paintings feature people living in harmony with wild animals - they feature lions and tigers, but no ligers...

So, I guess not everyone likes ligers after all. Some people have a religious hatred of them - presumably because they are "mixed".

T.R. said...

The wonderful thing about ligers is that they can go extinct, and then come back!

I must also voice my disappointment at the discrimination that this post presents. As you are no doubt aware, I am talking about the exclusion of Tigons. But in light of Utah's conspicuous lack of unrottable carcasses, I don't think any disciplinary action is necessary.

Buttercup said...

I saw Shasta as a child, when she was among the living. She was quite a sight!

I don't think that the 'official' story about her name is true, or at least it's not what I remember hearing as a child. I think that a newspaper or the zoo itself sponsored a competition for her name and somebody submitted "Shasta".

That's my recollection anyway!

Anonymous said...

I too visited Shasta in the '60s, two or three times. It's clear the taxidermist gave the old girl a tummy tuck. The photos my dad took of her in 1970 shortly before she died show how sick she was at the time. Like a lot of geriatric cats, Shasta's stomach had gotten big and round, and drug just a bit on the ground. She was still magnificent.