Remember that scene in the The Lion King when the baboon holds the little lion over a rock, and the music is swelling almost at the same pace as the tears forming in your eyes? I think it’s safe—and totally reasonable—to hypothesize that this movie sums up our understanding of the animal kingdom, and our place within it. Circle of life. Birth. Death. Mean scarface uncle. Yada yada yada.
And while you probably love The Lion King as much as I do—except that you totally don’t, you poser—I’m betting I know more Simba trivia than you. Why? ’Cause I’m a trivia stud.
For example, did you know that baby Simba is really a miniature teacup lion, and that as long as you feed him no more than half a cup of meat a day he’ll never grow bigger than 25 pounds? He’ll probably beg for more food. He might tell you he’s starving. Hell, he might get so emaciated that he just dies. But no matter what your conscience—or hell, even your eyes—tells you, remember that you have a right to own a tiny teacup lion, and if starving an animal is the price you pay for that privilege, well, then you’re in plentiful company. Though I wouldn’t call it good. Or intelligent.
So despite the fact that we all totally cried when we watched The Lion King, we live in a country where our own asses are gigantic but our pigs look like the models from Victoria’s Secret’s Love Your Body campaign. And by that I don’t mean that the pig’s bosoms are buxom. I mean that Victoria’s Secret brilliantly decided to undermine our expectations of seeing curvy, healthy-sized women in an ad campaign about how we should all love our bodies by throwing 30-pound anorexic giraffes in skanky underwear in front of a camera. Same as always.
Thirty pounds is, ironically, about the weight you can expect your teacup pig to maintain. In fairytale land where teacup pigs actually exist—alongside unicorns and people who actually research animals before buying them. I know the friendly lady you handed a $1,000 check swore up and down that her teacup pigs are the real thing. But I think you’ll find that people are willing to tell you a lot of things for $1,000. They’re even willing to tell you to starve a helpless animal. Because yes, it might be possible to starve your pig into weighing 30 pounds—one-fifth of what your pig would weigh if it was healthy. Of course, it’s also possible for you to weigh what your doctor says you should, if you would just stop shotgunning quarter pounders from Burger King. But while you’re totally willing to regulate your pig’s daily caloric intake to unhealthily low levels, the idea of monitoring what you cram down your own pie hole is just unreasonable.
And the “teacup” pigs are hardly an isolated case. Consider Easter. For some, it’s a celebration of spring and rebirth. For others, it’s a day of religious observance. For my part, I like to celebrate by getting smashed on tequila that I drink from a hollowed-out chocolate egg. Feel free to judge my beloved tradition, though not before you consider the fact that there are people who consider chicks and bunnies holiday impulse buys. Because Junior needs three baskets of Cadbury chocolates, five dozen pastel plastic eggs, and a baby animal that will die before the end of the year because you didn’t know how to care for it properly. Statistically. And because the circle of life is, well, a circle, and you didn’t learn the first time, you may very well go out and buy Junior another bunny next Easter. And its chances of surviving a year in your care are about as good as a sea lion at the Morro Bay Aquarium’s odds of living half its natural lifespan.
So, let’s raise our glasses—mine will be filled with tequila and little bits of chocolate floating to the top—to the circle of life. Or our twisted version of it, in which we stuff other animals into our purses and Easter baskets, and pay enormous sums of money to starve pigs that don’t actually exist. And then we go home at night and watch movies like Lion King and Finding Nemo and Free Willie, and we pretend that we honor and respect and love and understand the circle of life. When really, it’s more like a yo-yo we keep tied to our finger and jerk around haphazardly for our own amusement.
Shredder once stuffed a squirrel into a purse, but it got away. Send squirrel baskets to firstname.lastname@example.org.