An Outdoor View: Zoo comes to Alaska

For centuries, mankind has been the dominant species. We domesticated animals, locked them up, killed them for sport. But what if all across the globe, the animals decided no more? What if they finally decided to fight back?

— Introduction to the
television series “Zoo.”

I don’t watch every television series that comes along, but when one has an interesting plot, I’m usually hooked. “Zoo” hooked me.

Based on a James Patterson novel by the same name, “Zoo” first aired June 30. It begins with lions in Africa killing people. Usually, when lions kill people, it’s to eat them, but not this time. The victims appear to have been killed for no reason at all. It’s as if they were killed for sport.

A team of specialists is assembled to determine what’s happening and how to stop it. The murderous behavior spreads to other countries, affecting everything from bats to domestic animals. A secretive biotechnology corporation becomes suspect. The plot thickens. Is some pesticide side effect the cause? What if this behavior spreads throughout the animal kingdom? Is this the beginning of an apocalypse?

“Zoo” tweaks my imagination. Since time immemorial, we’ve had a deal with animals. It was the deal God gave us when, according to Genesis, He said Man was “… to have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” To us, this deal was about trust. We trusted the animals to fear us and allow us to use them for our every need and want. The animals have usually obliged, if at times begrudgingly. Living in Alaska, where it’s not unusual to cross paths with animals that are capable of doing you deadly harm, it simply wouldn’t do to have “every living thing” forget our deal and start attacking us at every opportunity.

I figure it’s only a matter of time until “Zoo” producers “do” Alaska. Here’s an idea for them.

It’s 6 a.m. on a morning in late August on the Kenai River. Fishermen are navigating their boats in the chilly darkness, looking for a good spot to anchor and fish for silver salmon. A guide with four customers aboard deftly steers his boat to a tall spruce leaning over the water. He lowers the anchor, and soon has hooks baited, rods in rod holders and coffee cups in his customers’ hands.

Small talk in the boat is about a news report. Another weird attack by animals has occurred, this time in Seattle, just yesterday. Reportedly, about 20 Pekingese have attacked and dragged off a homeless man who had been cleaning the windshield of a car stopped at a traffic light on Pike Street. Neither dogs nor man has been seen since the unprovoked attack. Scared people are staying home from work, keeping their children indoors and nervously watching every move of their pet dogs and cats.

The guide tries to lighten the conversation in the boat by telling about the eagle that carried off a chihuahua owned by a couple vacationing in Valdez in the early 1990s. He’s just getting to the part where the husband, out of sight of his wife, was fist pumping and saying, “Yeah!” But he never finishes the story. Hundreds — make that thousands — of squirrels leap into the boat from the tree above. They swarm over the fishermen, biting them all over. Overwhelmed and panic-stricken, the men jump into the river and swim for shore, only a few feet away. Just as they are about to reach the safety of shore, several huge king salmon savagely clamp onto the men’s clothing, pull them to the bottom and hold them there until they stop struggling.

I can hardly wait.

Les Palmer can be reached at

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