The Third Leader: Wild life

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The Independent Online

Consider how it must be, sharing a planet with us. Take, for example, the giant squid minding its own business doing what giant squids do until fishermen took two hours to catch it before freezing it and taking it to a laboratory in New Zealand where they are planning to place it in a giant microwave.

Although clearly open to accusations of own-species betrayal, I will still be disappointed if, as the defrosting nears its end, one scientist doesn't suddenly say, "Professor, am I imagining it, or did that thing just move?... Aargghh!" Too much early exposure to Frankenstein, King Kong and Walt Disney, probably.

Whatever, if you're not being raised, frozen, cooked or eaten, and if your habitat is not being destroyed, and if you've not been tagged or chipped, and if you're not a Malaysian sniffer dog with a price put on your head by DVD pirates, there's always the zoo. Already this week we have had Knut, the polar bear cub, and the debate about whether he should be gawped at or killed. And now we report that London Zoo is not as safe as it might be.

Just one more worry to lie awake with in Primrose Hill, listening for sounds of the Serengeti by the wheelie bin. But why on earth do we still have animals unnaturally imprisoned in zoos? It's not as if there aren't endless hours of television showing them having their privacy invaded in a setting slightly less disturbed by us.

Even so, the possibility of a zoo animal escaping should be treated with the utmost gravity, as it's a jungle out there.

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