RICHMOND, Va. — Richmond Zoo’s cheetah, Vaila, has flummoxed local zoo keepers by refusing her usual prepared meals and opting only for free-range antelope. Vaila is the latest of several instances of a zoo animal misbehaving at the Metro Richmond Zoo. Zoo keepers have also had to contend with Lola, a flamingo who opted for more earthy colors instead of the traditional pink, and Frank, a chimpanzee who only smokes American Spirits.
Vaila was not previously picky about her meals, but, in the last few weeks has refused to touch anything that wasn’t the freshest organic free-range antelope.
Zoologist Jennifer Whitlow said, “We’ve had a hard time with Vaila of late and have no idea why. One zookeeper thinks she picked up her new culinary habits from the Richmond Magazine clippings we line her enclosure with. Another theory is that she overheard an employee refusing to drink anything but cage-free coffee. Not only does nobody know what that means, but we also might be dealing with a cheetah that is somehow literate. Either way, it has been quite a week.”
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Vaila has made her displeasure known by hissing at passers-by and “acting like a total Gemini,” as one employee phrased it.
Whitlow continued, “We at the Richmond Zoo are dedicated to preserving the cheetah population, so we’ve sent a few interns down to Ellwood Thompson’s and Whole Foods to find some free-range antelope meat. Luckily, they had some, but somehow they still don’t carry Double Stuf Oreos.”
Vaila may be content for now with the available food supplies, but she’s also exhibited some other bizarre behaviors. She will only drink Fiji water, and one employee found a “Fur is Murder” bumper sticker on her water bowl. She also gets antsy if she misses “All Things Considered” on NPR. At night, she refuses to sleep unless Animal Collective plays over the loudspeaker.
The Richmond Zoo is doing everything possible to keep Vaila happy, although her culinary demands have taxed the zoo’s budget, given that free-range antelope costs approximately three times as much as factory farmed antelope.
Whitlock stated, “Vaila is eating healthy, which is something all Richmonders should admire. However, sometimes her behavior can be a bit off-putting. One intern found a bag of Cheetos in her enclosure with the word ‘sell out’ scrawled over Chester Cheetah. We also suspect she’s been stealing Frank the chimpanzee’s American Spirits.”
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