Stupid is as stupid does

Becky Fenger Fenger PointingI like giraffes. A whole lot. That's why it was frightening to watch one almost choke to death last Tuesday at the Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium in Litchfield Park at the hands of jerks.

For three years I had been meaning to drive out there to feed these gentle giants. When I finally did, it was on a day in which the field where the feeding station is located had been irrigated that morning. The giraffes cannot enter the field on those days, since they could snap their long legs if they sunk in the mud.

Last Tuesday I was smarter, and called first to check on the watering schedule. All clear. Finally there I was, pumping quarters into the container that held the food granules. This was bliss. We all marveled at how the animals curled their long tongues to make a trough for us to drop in the pellets.

A man came along with two long green-leaved branches and held it up for the curious giraffes to take. I asked where he got them, since I saw none for sale. He said that he had walked to the west end of the zoo where tree branches were low enough to tear off. I remarked: "That can't be right to do that." A while later, another cheapskate arrived with more purloined branches for his kid to feed the animals.

It was the large female named Tommie who started to choke when a branch turned sideways and got caught in her throat. She struggled to dislodge it. I called for help from the caretakers, but Tommie was in distress for over twenty minutes before she recovered. She may not have realized how lucky she was. The branches were from eucalyptus trees, which can be deadly to a lot of animals that aren't koala bears. I wonder if this knowledge would have stopped the oafs who were so pleased with themselves for saving 50 cents by not buying the food provided at the station.

From what I learned next, I have my doubts. The zoo employee told me that last year a precious giraffe did die there when another fool fed it batteries out of a camera!

Speaking of potentially deadly things, people are talking about the new report from Charles Gerba, a University of Arizona professor who tested shopping carts for bacteria and found that the carts and the reusable bags meant to replace recyclable plastic ones are teeming with nasty stuff. He found that nearly three-quarters of the carts had a positive marker for fecal bacteria and half had E. coli.

The problem with the cloth bags is that an earlier U of A study showed that 97 percent of shoppers don't wash or bleach their reusable bags. Amazingly, most of the proud owners of the eco-friendly bags told researchers that "they don't worry about germs."

The reusable bags come in contact with raw meat juices, then get transferred to fresh vegetables and fruit. This makes for a fertile breeding ground when bags aren't washed constantly.

The folks over at The Center for Consumer Freedom decided to test whether reusable bags are dirtier than a toilet seat.

They actually tested four sites: the reusable bag, a kitchen sink, an elevator push button and a public toilet seat. They took clean cotton swabs and got samples from each, then carefully put the samples in covered Petri dishes and waited. For the bag, they went into a grocery store and purchased a brand new bag and then shopped for a variety of groceries after which the empty bag was swapped along the bottom and sides. In that way, they would be starting with a clean bag that was used only once.

Surprise! The reusable bag had by far the most bacteria. Coming in a distant second was the kitchen sink. Third was the toilet seat. The cleanest was the elevator button. The sample from the bag had all sorts of icky stuff growing in there, including mold.

The worst abuse of a grocery cart that I witnessed was a mother whose little girl, sitting in the top basket, wet her pants. The woman quickly returned to the stack of carts and lifted the kid onto a new dry cart, leaving the soiled one for the next shopper. I'll bet she feeds giraffes weird stuff, too.