And The Zookeeper Is Very Fond of Dumb

Law

Does the Global Wildlife Center of Folsom, Louisiana cater primarily, or even exclusively, to intractably stupid people?

That's the message it seems to be sending with its recent litigation strategy.

At first glance, the Global Wildlife Center seems to be a pleasant refuge and a good place to take kids:

Vision Statement

We seek to be a center of excellence in education; to create a perfect place in which threatened and endangered wildlife, from around the world, live and flourish in a free-roaming natural environment. A place where children, adults, students, and teachers embrace the values of active conservation and wildlife preservation through hands-on education and first-person sensory experience.

Get ready for a wild adventure at the largest totally free-roaming wildlife preserve of its kind in the country! The Global Wildlife Center in Folsom, Louisiana is home to over 4,000 exotic, endangered, and threatened animals from all over the world.

Aside for indecision about whether to use commas or semicolons, a propensity towards sentence fragments, and a weakness for content-free business jargon like "vision statement", there's no obvious indication on their web site that the Global Wildlife Center's branding strategy centers upon the slack-jawed mouth-breathing set.

But their stance in court is quite another matter.

See, there's a Louisiana blog out there in the 'sphere called the Hammond Action News. It's satirical. Strike that — it's obviously satirical. Strike that again — it's obviously satirical and confesses to being satirical. It's also pretty funny; check it out.

Anyway, the Hammond Action News, in a riff on the recent killer whale incident at Sea World, printed a satirical piece about killer giraffes at the Global Wildlife Center. I'd link to it directly on the Hammond Action News blog, but I can't, for reasons that will become obvious. Instead, I'll have to rely on a version that someone at Fark scooped from Google Cache, that bane of censorious asshats everywhere:

February 25, 2010
GIRAFFE CLAIMS THIRD VICTIM AT GLOBAL WILDLIFE

UNEEDUS, Louisiana – Veteran wildlife guide Dizzy Dimarco was encouraging visitors to hand feed giraffes when one of the 16ft-high animals reached down and grabbed her by the head.

Passengers in Global Wildlife's viewing wagons watched horror struck as the animal repeatedly shook Dimarco before hurling her body into the upper limbs of a nearby tree.

Dimarco's interaction with the animal had seemed friendly and encouraging to visitor Debbie Guidry of Lafouche Parish, "but then the giraffe just went crazy. Stamping and snorting, it clamped a hold to the guide's head and just got to shaking her, " Guidry told HAN.

The wagons quickly returned to the visitor center and mounted giraffe wranglers were sent to the scene. Dimarco was pronounced dead upon arrival at Lallie Kemp Hospital, then again at North Oaks after relatives demanded a second opinion.

Staff have been unable to identify which of the 12 giraffes was responsible for the attack, echoing a similar failure to locate the guilty animal in the two previous giraffe-related fatalities at the center.

In 2001 and 2004 guides working alone in the park failed to return and were later found dead in tree tops. Park officials hope to now identify the guilty giraffe with the help of technicians from Bedico CSI, who will be taking DNA samples from the animals in the coming weeks.

A spokesperson for Global Wildlife told HAN, 'What we have here is what we call a 'rouge giraffe' situation. It's rare, but it happens. After an incident, the animals all herd up together and it's hard to tell which is which. Now with the help of the CSI unit we can name the guilty critter."

Guidry's camcorder evidence from the attack can be seen in an upcoming FPTV Channel 17 special. WHEN GOOD GIRAFFES GO BAD will premier March 12 at 10pm after re-runs of the 2001 spectacular BILL HOOD CATCHES MORE FISH.

No, you might think that there is no one stupid enough to read that and think that it is real. You'd be wrong — or, at least, the Global Wildlife Center thinks that you may be wrong. They sued the Hammond Action News and convinced Louisiana District Judge Brenda Bedsole Ricks to issue a temporary restraining order requiring Hammond Action News to take the story down. No. Really. I'm serious.

See, the Global Wildlife Center insists that people will think the story is real:

The story is “malicious and untrue,” asserted Christina Cooper, Global’s education and development director, in a written statement.

“I have received calls from concerned friends and citizens who took the story to be truth,” she said.

. . .

Alleging the story defames Global Wildlife’s reputation as a safe, family-friendly destination, the center seeks only to have the story permanently removed from the site and to prevent Hammond Action News from ever distributing it, said Robert McComiskey, Global Widlife’s attorney.

And they convinced an actual judge to order the story taken down. Maybe Judge Brenda Bedsole Ricks just hates Louisiana. Maybe she looked at the TRO motion and thought, "You know, this state is so crammed full of fucking idiots that they probably would think this story is real." Or maybe Judge Brenda Bedsole Ricks is, herself, powerfully stupid. Certainly she doesn't seem bright enough to be familiar with Hustler v. Falwell.

Let's be clear: anyone who reads that article and thinks it is real is too stupid to be trusted around animals. Anyone who thinks that article is real is too stupid to have a driver's license to drive to Global Wildlife Center. Global Wildlife Center apparently thinks that a lot of its guests — both people from Louisiana and tourists — are exactly that stupid. Which raises the question: unless you are a pickpocket, a con man, or someone who wants to pick up girls by telling them you're Elvis post-plastic-surgery, why on God's green earth would you want to go to a zoo choked with morons? You just know somebody's going to ding your car in the parking lot and the paths are going to be slick with drool.

Alternatively — even if the Global Wildlife Center is wrong in its cruel assessment of the mental acuity of its prospective guests — why in the world would you want to patronize a tourist spot that prides itself on litigation thuggery? Why would you want to give you money to a place that sues satirists? You wouldn't go to a theme park that took out a page-three advertisement saying "Fuck the Fifth Amendment — execute defendants without trial!!" Why would you give your money to a zoo that pisses on the First Amendment?

Note: I reproduce the entire satirical piece above only because it is not currently available online — even (as far as I could tell) on Google Cache. It's not my work, it's the Hammond Action News' work, and is only reproduced here for the purpose of commenting on how obviously satirical it is. If — as I hope — the Louisiana judiciary buys a clue and rejects the preliminary injunction and lifts the TRO, I will replace it with a link.

Update Wow.

In addition to filing this lawsuit, via email Global Wildlife Foundation president Ken Matherne threatened to file criminal charges, FCC charges, fraud charges, an IRS complaint, a governor’s office complaint, and a federal lawsuit against Brilleaux. Matherne’s email did not explain any basis for the additional threats.

Ken Matherne, you are a gigantic censorious douchebag.

Updated again: At the preliminary injunction hearing, District Judge Beth Wolfe denied the injunction and lifted the TRO. Good for her.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

12 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Andrew  •  Mar 4, 2010 @4:13 pm

    I'm not surprised that some people are stupid enough to think that such obvious satire is real.

    I'm mildly surprised that the Wildlife Center is so think-skinned that it sued.

    I'm stunned that a judge actually forced the site to take the story down. (Naïve of me, I know.)

  2. TomH  •  Mar 4, 2010 @6:32 pm

    Eh, it's a TRO. the judge probably felt she was giving the hyperventilating zoo folk the benefit of the doubt. The real question is, upon looking at the merits will there be Rule 11 sanctions?

    Anyway, I get all my news from the ONN.

  3. Ken  •  Mar 4, 2010 @6:37 pm

    It's only a TRO, Tom, but TROs requiring takedowns of web content are (properly) pretty rare. Because web content is persistent, it's arguably equivalent to prior restraint.

  4. Ken  •  Mar 4, 2010 @6:39 pm

    Also, it's Louisiana state court, so no Rule 11 sanctions. Perhaps there is some equivalent in Louisiana law, which is cobbled together from the legal traditions of the French, the Deep South, riverboat gamblers, corrupt cops, bead-and-tit based economies, and people who clean up vomit for a living.

  5. Chief Rocka  •  Mar 5, 2010 @3:25 am

    Ken,

    Your assesment of Matherne is right on. He is an ego maniac who tries to bully people around with money and threats of expensive legal wranglings. I am glad to see that Hammond Action News did not bend to the whims and threats of a bully.

    I wonder if Matherne's other threats to the college student are considered extorsion or blackmail.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that there are deeper darker secrets about things that have happened at the Global Zoo and to their animals over the years. Things that would curl your hair……

  6. Chris  •  Mar 5, 2010 @7:48 am

    I hear that Matherne actually was devoured by a giraffe years ago. What walks as a man is merely what was pulled back across the void by ancient voodoo practioners – a strange bundling of dark animal spirits, malice and giraffe bile. Anything that draws a watchful eye to the mysterious rituals in the Global Wildlife Center's giraffe pyramid is a threat to his ongoing existance.

  7. mojo  •  Mar 5, 2010 @2:55 pm

    "Send him to feed the giraffes…"

  8. Nancy  •  Mar 6, 2010 @9:49 pm

    Dear Ken Matherne,

    Welcome to the Streisand Effect.

  9. bw  •  Mar 9, 2010 @10:21 am

    "Anyone who thinks that article is real is too stupid to have a driver’s license to drive to Global Wildlife Center."

    Apparently you haven't kept abreast of current drivers' licensing requirements. Packing drivers' licenses as prizes in Cracker Jack boxes would represent raising the bar.

    Look, we all know that places like this make their profit not off the gate, but on selling overpriced crap in the gift shop, and therefore, while they may not be patronized exclusively by morons, their business model depends upon some minimum percentage of their customers being morons.

    It's sad, but true – we've dumbed down our society to the point that it's not safe for satire.

  10. Dwight Brown  •  Mar 16, 2010 @11:21 am

    According to this version of the story, not only did the judge strike down the TRO, she also ordered Global Wildlife to pay Hammond Action News $500 "in attorney fees and court costs".

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