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dimanche 17 août 2014

Animals that don't Exist

The Drunken Gnu

The drunken gnu, Connochaetes inhebris, is not, as commonly assumed, an inebriated Linux user. Rather, it is a nomadic species of even-toed beasts in Africa.
The drunken gnu, close relative to the blue wildebeest, Connochaetes taurinus, is found mostly in central Africa, where it follows the seasonal ripening of fruits, feeding on whatever is available, and migrating in accordance with the rains. Except that, in opposition to other species, of which most have the same migratory pattern, the drunken gnu is, so to say, late.
Arriving always one or two weeks after the ideal period, the drunken gnus eat mostly old fruits, partially rotten, in which fermentation has already begun. Hence their name.
A herd of drunken gnus that has just left a feeding place can be scary to behold. The members of the herd will stumble, and sometimes even fall, as they keep on advancing, copulating here and there.
Even the young gnus participate in the orgy of rotten fruit, and excessive consummation of alcohol is believed to be the major cause of death in drunken gnus. Only during the heaviest of rains do they drink water, and eat grass, as their cousins are wont to do.
In African culture, the drunken gnus have held a rather polemic place. Most communities, especially Islamic villages in the northern parts of central Africa, hold the drunken gnus in contempt for their abuse of alcohol, and consider them an abomination of nature. Ironically, this very condemnation might have saved the drunken gnus, since they are neither eaten nor hunted by the people of the north, but simply shunned.
In the south, however, opinions are more nuanced. Even though there are those who think the beasts savage and do not approach them, a cult has developed around the drunken gnus.
Some villages send their young adults on a pilgrimage, where they need to follow the gnus for a year, before they can truly claim to be adults. Others simply partake of rotten fruit at predetermined times, to revel in the effect. Even in Europe and northern America, the rite of the drunken gnu is observed zealously by some.

Sadly, due to disturbances in the rainfall pattern over the last years, as well as human destruction of its habitat, the drunken gnu is not faring well in recent times. In support to the beasts, the Queen of England has ordered a thousand bottles of scotch be delivered to them each year, in an effort to allow them to continue their normal life cycle.

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