More Than Just a Hippo on the Road
Chase Johnson
12

Indeed it’s a sore human failing that this tragedy would likely garner no wider attention if not for the breached zoo. It’s an embarrassment to be sure that disaster is white noise behind a media singing songs of peripheral consequence, both because our actions do stand to have an impact or not, and our attention, embarrassingly, can’t be held to hear about real life. But is this because we lack a capacity collectively or that it’s delivered to us, if at all, as empty calories of (non)human interest? Maybe there’s actually something else going on here beyond informing and/or distracting.

The wider world greedily consumes news of distressed fauna, who’s stories are shamelessly anthropomorphic. Read into this what you will about how uncaring and atrocious towards people in far away places we tend to be, but the end result is less clear. What the image means in time is really determined by associations built now.

Will the line be drawn to incompetent governance? To comically desperate scapegoating of zookeepers? To insufficiently fortified infrastructure? I’m less inclined to be critical of the often absurd process of symbol building. What will the image of the free-range Tbilisi hippo mean in time? A complex tincture of emotion and ideals for better or worse to be sure. Perhaps we should ask the rose.

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