. Recent tragic news from Ohio reminded our researchers of a series of events that unfolded in our own community not so many decades ago. A local business-man who was acting as director of the Idyll-Beast Research Center had started what he called a “Zoo” but county agents declared a “hoard.” Instead of the usual animals, like lions, tigers and bears, he had procured members of the Board of Directors of the Idyllwild Chamber of Commerce. The “collection” started with at-large directors and soon the President, Secretary, Treasurer and both Vice Presidents were ensconced in chain-link enclosures out behind the Research Center. Animal Control officers responded to complaints about noise and smell from neighbors and discovered deplorable conditions: creatures stressed by confinement in cages adjoining those of natural predators suffered so much stress that their hair was falling out in clumps. Some of the animals had chewed each other’s tails off. (Chamber watchers say this is where the custom of chamber directors appearing tailless first began.) As for sanitary conditions, the less said the better.
Citations from the county began to pile up, and finally the sheriff was called in to arrest the amateur “zoo-keeper.” Tensions ran high as the possibility of an armed stand-off loomed. When the SWAT team finally entered the offices of the Idyll-Beast Research Center, the zoo-keeper was nowhere to be found. A quick investigation revealed that the animals had all been released, the cage doors left open. A tattered jacket and shreds of what was believed to be the zoo-keeper’s clothing were found outside the cages.
Now the Animal Control Services’ own SWAT team sped into action, fanning out through the valley with nets and tranquilizer darts. Humane traps were placed outside meeting places frequented by the Directors, baited with grant money and Certificates of Appreciation. Finally, on the third Monday of the month, the whole menagerie was captured without incident outside the Water District meeting room. The town’s nightmare was over, and residents could get some sleep.
It took many years to repair the rift between the Idyll-Beast Research Center and the Chamber of Commerce. We are happy to say relations are now once again cordial. Not only is the Director of the Research Center an officer of the Chamber, but an Idyll-Beast has been elected to the Board. And we understand why community support for our proposed Beast Cove Petting Zoo has been hard to come by.