There are strange things happening in the animal kingdom. I know what you're thinking, but this column has nothing to do with politics. Recently there has been a stampede of news about actual animals. 


Reading these I was reminded of a TV show about animals that was popular when I was a kid. Big Rob, Big Dave and I would stretch out on the living room floor in front of our Muntz television set and vicariously travel to “The Wild Kingdom.” The show was hosted by Marlin Perkins and his trusty assistant Jim Fowler. At some point during each episode there would be a similar moment. Perkins would say: “While Jim is wrestling a twenty-foot killer crocodile with his bare hands, let's pause for this word from Mutual of Omaha.” (


With this in mind, I have a question for you. Did a monkey pick your coconut? I ask because: “Don't expect to find coconut milk on Costco shelves on your next shopping trip. The retailer is the latest pledging not to stock coconut products from Thai suppliers who have been accused of using monkeys as forced labor.” (


Forced monkey labor? Apparently it's a real thing. “A disturbing investigation reveals that terrified young monkeys in Thailand are kept chained, abusively trained, and forced to climb trees to pick coconuts that are used to make coconut milk, meat, flour, oil, and other products.” (


Hopefully, things will get better for the monkeys. One other cuddly cutie will also  be enjoying a better life. “Animal rescuers in Ireland said a shopper at a supermarket brought a bunch of bananas home and discovered an unusual stowaway -- a baby tarantula.” 


Don't worry, they didn't smoosh it. “The tarantula was taken to the ISPCA's Donegal Animal Rehabilitation Center. The tarantula was very dehydrated and lethargic but after some water and mini crickets to eat, he began to perk up very quickly. It will eventually be transferred to a new permanent home.” Who knew you could rehabilitate a tarantula? I wonder how you train for a career as a tarantula counselor.  (


Well, poisonous insects aside, even big animals can find themselves in sticky situations. “Firefighters in Florida responded to a property to rescue a horse that fell into a septic tank and nearly was submerged in sewage. A horse named Buddy Bear plunged into the open septic tank and was unable to climb back out.”


Ah, never underestimate the ingenuity of firefighters, though. “A Technical Heavy Rescue Team arrived on the scene and used a fire house to fashion a harness around the 40-year-old horse. The firefighters then were able to pull the horse back to solid ground. The horse was not seriously injured and is recovering from his ordeal.” Just so you know, 40 horse years is the equivalent of 110 human years. ( and


Rescues are nice, but sometimes animals don't need a rescue. They may have things pretty cushy. If you're a chipmunk living near Atlanta food writer Angela Hansberger, life can be very dandy indeed. She has opened a chipmunk restaurant on her front porch. 

Using ingredients from her garden, she serves a chipmunk she has named Thelonious Munk at his very own scale model picnic table. When asked what this has done for her, she responded, "It's brought joy. I have more videos of this chipmunk than I have of my children. It's bad."

Thelonious is grateful. "One day he came up with this little tiny bundle – waded up leaves – and put it on the table. So, I take it to mean he brought a tip." (


A chipmunk diner could be considered a pet if you stretch the definition of “pet” a bit. The good news on the odd pet front is that you can have a kangaroo of your very own. The bad news is you have to move to away from Michigan to do so. “In Wisconsin, West Virginia and South Carolina, it’s legal to own a kangaroo without a permit. You need a permit in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois and seven other states. It’s illegal to own a kangaroo as a pet in the majority of states.”


You should know, though, that the Northern Territory Government in Australia says: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Kangaroos do not make good pets.” Besides, if you snuggle in bed with one and they kick you in the night you'll go flying across the room. (


  Finally, something loosely related to the animal kingdom – little kids and animated sharks.  Guinness World Records has announced that "Baby Shark Dance" has officially become the most viewed video in YouTube history. “The children's rhyme has garnered an incredible 7,042,967,886 views as of 2 November 2020.” (


The video has set other records. “It also has over 22 million likes and 10 million dislikes, making it both one of the most liked and disliked videos ever on YouTube.” To put this in some sort of perspective, if you put all those views back-to-back they would have a cumulative running time of over 30,000 years. 


You can watch the video at: With a nod toward the the film “A Christmas Story,” I double-dog dare you not to smile. 


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at and