All hell breaks loose in a Paris zoo.
|Adrián watched in horror as the baboons ran riot. They were everywhere; fifty-three had escaped the enclosure and were now terrorising the summer crowds, most of whom had come just in time to see Timothée the lion feed.
Parc Zoologigue de Paris prides itself as Europe’s best. It is one of the oldest and best preserved animal enclosures in the world. It has a broad and exotic collection of animals. It has the world famous Timothée. It has a pair of pandas; she is expecting cubs any day now, and the world’s media will be there to see it. There are the dear old giraffes; the orangutans; the elephants, with their ancient wisdom; the polar bears; and the snakes- Heavens! the snakes- Adrián was particularly worried they might escape in the melee, cunning as they are.
The baboons had been out of their enclosure no more than thirty seconds and Adrián could already hear the shrieking and howling. He could already hear the sheer, unrivalled chaos. The pandemonium bubbled and popped. It fizzed and burst from the Baboon House enclosure. These sounds weighed heavily upon him as he froze, mouth agape in horror.
Mon dieu, he though, Putain!
What does one do? I ask you now: what does one do when one realises that they have unleashed a small army of monkeys, a cohort of baboons, that will descend with such ferocious mischief and madness, the likes of which have never been seen before, upon a crowd of thousands? What would you do, dear reader?
He squatted, trembling, and buried his face in his dirty hands. He exhaled with a quiver, a hopeless, defeated quiver. Baboons are fast, agile and highly intelligent. He contacted the police, but they had already received dozens of phone calls. Adrián sat on a hollowed log in the baboon enclosure and lit a cigarette. After 2 months of leaving fruit in this gigantic cage, it was the first time Adrián had seen it so empty. At this moment, he had never felt more alone.
Mon dieu, he said.
Meanwhile, the baboons had taken over. Police had evacuated the zoo, save for a small crowd who had taken shelter with the zebras in The Plains of Africa. There were at least thee casualties. There may have been more, at this stage it was unknown. Baboons had smashed the skull of a man beside the Penguin Pool. A girl, merely a child, had been crushed beneath the fleeing crowds. All’s fair in love and war, they say. Their bodies lay there for some hours while the police tackled the baboons. The floors throughout were stained and marked with baboon shit and human blood. Food, as well; unfinished hamburgers, ice-cream and cola everywhere. There were many, many shoes left behind.
When the first fleet of police entered the zoo, they were miserably under prepared. No helmets. No armour. The baboons picked them out easily, darting from above in the thick foliage. The officers swung poles and nets, but these baboons are so fast, so agile. I have told you this. There was no sense of concern from the majority of the baboons. Some of them had taken to masturbating from the branches as they watched their compatriots battle. It seemed to me that many were entertained.
Perhaps the most terrifying moment was when one of the larger baboons dispossessed an officer of his firearm. Of course, baboons are not so intelligent that they understand the intricacies of a pistol, but you can sympathise with our initial concerns. The poor baboon shot itself in the head as it tampered and chewed. The monkey screams rang out across Paris. Down the Seine the water carried these howls, the shrieks of of fifty-two baboons. It met thousands of Parisians as they walked the riverside, perhaps holding hands, perhaps embraced by the lips of a lover’s kiss. Perhaps, perhaps. We cannot know.
Three of these officers were injured severely. The sound of the pistol, coupled gruesomely with the sudden apparent suicide of their comrade, had spooked these monkeys. If they were unpredictable before, they had at this point gone, dare I say, completely bananas.
The cabal of baboons descended like rain from a thunderstorm. There were too many; the officers, they never stood a chance. The baboons ripped, beat and smashed anything they could reach with their hands or teeth. It seemed as though there was nothing left. Nothing but debris, garments and blood. I saw one officer, a young man, perhaps twenty-five years old. He was hunched beneath a large bench. He grasped frantically at his radio, and I heard him cry:
There are too many! Mon Dieu! They are stronger than us! We need help!
The poor man was dragged from the bench by three baboons and beaten to within an inch of his life. He will never walk again, but he is alive, and has told his story on national television and universities around the world. His name is Francois Lenoir and he is married with one child.
Lenoir’s calls did not fall on deaf ears, but sadly, the reinforcements were too late. The baboons had swatted the remaining officers aside with little trouble; perhaps one or two of the smaller ones were captured and detained. Some remained loose in the enclosure, releasing Serge Gainsbourg, the Bengal tiger, who escaped the zoo with rest of the baboons. Together they fled the Parc Zoologigue de Paris to roam these cobbled streets. These avenues and alleyways contain many stories, though none quite like this.
Adrián emerged from the Baboon House into a zoo so quiet you would not believe you were in the centre of this beautiful city. It was deeply unsettling. Like a disused playground, you understand. He was, as you could imagine, visibly shaken, though physically unharmed. He had smoked a lot of cigarettes and thrown up. Police questioned him extensively. They told him that, so far, police had killed only fifteen baboons. The rest were still at large, presumably terrorising the banlieues and the galleries.
The last of the baboons were eventually found three weeks later, north of Paris in Saint Denis, where they were cornered by police vehicles in a small housing estate and shot. The baboons died scared and, like us all, alone.
There were a total of 37 casualties in Paris that day. An annual day of mourning now takes place of the 17th of July. We call it, simply, La Catastrophe.
Ultimately, my dear readers, this was just another day on planet earth. It is of no significance to anybody beyond those affected: the dead and the mourning. No lesson has been learnt. It is an interesting story, riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies. But it is simply a grain of sand, forgotten on the beaches of time. What have you learnt? Nothing. Are you entertained? But of course. This was a pleasant way to pass time, no? That is all that matters, my dear, sweet reader.