Greetings From the Mercer Mobile Home Community Zoo

Political battles! Injured children! Mange! You&#8217ve wondered what goes on inside the bureaucracy that is your local mobile-home community’s zoo—now we let you in.

Greetings Zoo Crew:

Alan “The Talon” Marsh here with another update from your Mercer Mobile Home Community Zoo! I’d like to begin this (now quarterly) installment on a personal note by offering my sincere thanks to everyone who supported me in my latest bid for the office of Tenants’ Association President. Your hard work and dedication (and votes!) are (and were!) appreciated, and I hope you all received the handwritten thank-you cards my assistant Kevin assures me were placed in each of your mailboxes. I’d also like to take this opportunity to extend an olive branch to those who made it their business to stand in my way, again. No hard feelings! If I’ve learned anything in life, it’s that you can’t win them all, and there’s always next year. Though, since the Tenants’ Association president serves a three-year term, I guess technically there’s always three years from now. Anyway, congratulations to Maggie LaForge in Unit 5 on her fourth consecutive term in office!

I’d also like to update you on my educational “goings on.” I’m happy to report that I’m one step closer to completing the requirements for the Ph.D. in Individual Studies with a concentration in Zoology from Zenith International College of the Arts all the way up in Alberta, Canada. I’m so close I can smell it! As a result of your generous donations I was able to enroll in Intermediate Marine and Freshwater Research. However, after several days of required field work at the Mercer Mobile Home Community Pond (located directly adjacent to the Tenants’ Association trailer, for you newcomers), I found it prudent to withdraw from this course and enroll in Introduction to the Biology of Polluted Waters. Maybe President LaForge can do something about that pond, huh! Still awaiting word on the outcome of my Final Exam, which my assistant Kevin assures me was sent to the college via registered mail several weeks ago…

Well, enough about me. We’ve had a busy few months (and have a busier few ahead), so I’ll get right to the point with this edition’s news items.

Item! Legs n’ Eggs! As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, last month our “Squirrel on Crutches” display came to a sudden, alarming end. Once again, my apologies to those in attendance, particularly the faint of heart and any parents who happened to have their little Marshketeers™ in tow. You’ll be happy to know that my assistant Kevin is recovering nicely. According to Dr. Bolger, we can look forward to welcoming our little friend home in six to eight weeks, at which time we plan to unveil our “Three-Legged Squirrel” feature with a celebratory Pot-Luck Breakfast. Event details to follow!

Say Whaaa…? Bet you didn’t know that the scientific name for the Eastern Gray Squirrel is Sciurus Carolinensis. Awesome!

Item! Chimp Change! Thanks to several anonymous donations (I plead the fifth!), our Chimpanzee Acquisition Fund (CAF) is swelling. Fully funded, this initiative has the potential to put us on the fast track to some serious “monkey business” and cement our place at the forefront of cutting-edge lay-zoology. Thus far your generosity has made possible several long-distance telephone conversations with the good people at the Chimpanzee Habitat Improvement Coalition (CHIC) in Hoboken, N.J. At the suggestion of CHIC, we ask that your tax-deductible contributions of space heaters (the more, the better) and disposable diapers (all sizes) be dropped off at the entrance to the zoo (also known as Unit 12). We will continue to collect monetary donations in the coffee can marked CAF, which can be found at the front gate.

Speaking of monkeying around! Did You Know chimpanzees are the only members of the animal kingdom (aside from us humans, that is) known to experiment sexually? Word Is they’re known for such acts as wife-swapping and even orgies! Hot stuff!

Item! For the Birds! I’m happy to say we will begin our highly anticipated “Bird Handling 101” classes next month as planned. If last year’s attendance is any indicator, sign up early! A note on required materials: Adults, please come equipped with one (1) rawhide glove and one (1) raincoat. Little Marshketeers™, please bring your sense of wonder! (In addition to the glove and raincoat.)

Item! Back in the Saddle! After months of anticipation, Mr. Land’s pony is scheduled to return next week. The price of pony rides for children and adults under 80 pounds (that’s right, Mrs. Edmunds, I’m talking to you!) will be raised to $1.25, in order to help Mr. Land cover the pony’s considerable medical expenses. For insurance purposes Mr. Land has been advised to change the pony’s name. Thus, a pony-naming competition will be held next month.

Parents: I’d like to take this opportunity to address a few points of concern stemming from the pony-ride incidents of last year:

1. It is only common sense to steer clear of the pony’s hind legs and teeth.

2. The saddle is intentionally positioned slightly to the rear at a subtle right-leaning angle, and should not be adjusted. This is in order to keep the weight off of the pony’s left front leg.

3. My assistant Kevin assures me that Mange is not communicable to humans.

Item! That’s My Snake! Congrats again to everyone who saw Rusty move last week. That was something, wasn’t it! In order to encourage future motion sightings, reptile-feeding times will be moved from twice a week to once every three weeks. Please contact my assistant Kevin for exact dates and feeding times. Remember folks: A sated snake is a still snake; a hungry snake is a potentially semi-active snake!

Zoo Crew Donor Profile: It’s my pleasure to extend a very public Danke Schoen to the good people at Hans’s German-American Home-Style Buffet, who have been kind enough to drop by the zoo with gifts of day-old Sauerbraten, Schnitzel, and Schwalbennester on a regular basis. Believe me, our carnivores sure appreciate it!

Keep It Coming! After months of planning and several false starts, our Annual Capital Campaign is now under way. If you contributed to the fund last year, you’ll be happy to know that the generator was put to use on more than one occasion, and the light bulbs and fuses came in very handy as well. Aquariums don’t run cheap, people! However, this year we are hoping to raise enough funds to make some more substantial improvements to our humble menagerie. Our wish list includes at least one new tire (though the spare donated by Mr. Turpin was a much-appreciated stopgap, the leaning is now more severe and is becoming a safety hazard for visitors and animals alike), as well as several yards of replacement decorative skirting, and also a patch kit for the front porch awning. Though I doubt our ability to raise the funds necessary to finally move us into a double-wide, I’d love for you to prove me wrong!

Well, that’s about it for this quarterly installment. I’d like to leave you with a quotation from world-famous animal trainer (and my personal hero), the late Gunther Gebel-Williams, who said: “Working closely with animals—training them, understanding them, and getting across their beauty and intelligence to the people—for me, that’s the best life I can have.” You said it, GG-W!

Until next time, farewell from your Mercer Mobile Home Community Zoo!

Alan “The Talon” Marsh
Curator, Mercer Mobile Home Community Zoo
Executive Director, Mercer Mobile Home Community Zoological Society
Night Manager, Hans’s German-American Home-Style Buffet

Rob Eccles spends endless hours looming over a keyboard in the murky depths of his basement office creating works of varying merit. A contributor to McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, he is currently shopping his first novel, “a tale of Life, Death, and Identity Theft” tentatively titled The Poggendorf File. You can reach him . More by Rob Eccles