ANIMALS IN THE NEWS
March, 2018–When a newspaper intern (there still is such a thing) joined old-timers for lunch recently, we naturally started telling stories about the old days when clacking teletypes and typewriters joined telephones in creating an exciting newsroom din. When the presses below began to spit out the latest edition, the building would vibrate.
The stories we covered in those days mostly had to do with the human species and its endless variety. But I was also reminded of times when other species demanded their share of attention.
1. The Bird in the Newsroom
Late one day after the final edition had gone to press, a small bird began twittering from the ceiling fixtures in the sixth floor newsroom. With the atmosphere somewhat relaxed, I began stalking it. After following it around for a while, I managed to sneak up on it while a handkerchief over my hand concealed my intentions. Aha, I had it.
But not wishing to hurt it, I relaxed my grip a bit. It wiggled free. Once my evil design had been revealed, it wouldn’t let me get close again. I was told that later that night, an animal welfare person came with a net and took the bird away.
2. The Pussy in a Corner
A home owner could hear plaintive mewing coming from behind a wall. He summoned an animal welfare agent who brought tools and made a hole in the wall where the mewing sounded loudest. The hammering apparently alarmed the animal, and it scrabbled to a different part of the wall.
So the animal welfare person started making a hole in the new location. I don’t recall that the homeowner objected. Maybe he was an animal lover. Or maybe he just didn’t want a dead animal in his walls.
Meanwhile, I went back to the original hole and found that the cat had returned to it. I reached in and scooped out it.
I suppose that was a "scoop" of a sort. "Reporter Rescues Cat," but not exactly front page material.
3. Monkey Business
A tip came in that a monkey used to working with an organ grinder had escaped from home through an open window. The monkey roamed the neighborhood until it saw another open window that looked inviting. The human occupant of that apartment took exception to the visitor and called police, which brought the intrusion to the attention of the city desk.
I was sent to the scene with a photographer. We arrived to find two burly policemen attempting to capture the monkey. The animal seemed to be enjoying the game. It climbed the curtains, swung on a chandelier and leapt to a new perch whenever the cops got close.
Eventually, the organ grinder was brought to the scene. He scolded his furry partner and took it away to resume its job of wearing a little jacket and collecting tips from people standing around listening to the music of the street organ.
As for the cops, they were left with an observation once penned by Sir Arthur Sullivan: "Ah, take one consideration with another, a policeman's lot is not a happy one."