The black gibbon is a small arboreal ape weighing about 8 kg. They prefer subtropical evergreen forests and eat leaf buds, shoots, and fruits. Gibbons are mainly diurnal. The black gibbon is the only polygamous gibbon species. The black gibbon was once widespread in forests throughout southern China and Vietnam and into Laos and Cambodia. In 1990 the only area where black gibbon populations were reported to be healthy was in Yunnan Province, China. In 2000 they were in China, Laos and Vietnam. The black gibbon is threatened by loss of its preferred primary forest habitat, as well as by hunting for food and Oriental medicine."
I feel a very dull animal indeed,
in my blue jeans, blue shirt.
The docent smiles as she takes my money.
She's in khaki, her summer skin.
And what a diet I'm on these days.
Nothing like the dead white rats they feed the vulture.
Or the heaps of grain in the guanaco's pen.
I feast on hot-dogs, ice-cream, popcorn,
guzzle down soda so my pores can breathe.
The lion is snoozing in the midday sun,
his meat half-eaten, his water dish gathering flies.
How can that be?
Too bad there's no signs to explain me.
The giraffe is mapped, his habits elucidated,
his numbers in the wild listed.
Likewise, there's no doubting why
the okapi does what it does
and what that behavior of the crane is all about.
Near the tiger den, a mother slaps her bawling kid
across the back of the neck.
Never saw a hippopotamus do that.
But at least I have the power of thought
unlike the pea-brained emu or
the turtle crawling slowly toward a fluttering lettuce leaf
I'm no creature of instinct.
Unless, of course, a woman in low-cut dress slinks by.
Zoos are curious places,
not particularly representative of life on earth.
Billions of we humans and not a one on display.
Unless you count the angry mother,
or the woman in the low-cut dress,
or the smiling docent, or the hungry man lining up
for another hot-dog, more popcorn.
But who counts what isn't at risk, threatened, or near extinct?
And who maps what lives everywhere?
And habits? A habit of mine is going to zoos.
Try caging that.
John Grey is an Australian born poet, and US resident since
the late seventies who works as financial systems analyst. He has been
recently published in Connecticut Review, Kestrel and Writer’s
Bloc with work upcoming in Pennsylvania English, Alimentum
and the Great American Poetry Show.