Friday, July 25, 2008

Of Zebras and Giraffes

Texans ride horses. It’s just a fact of life in this part of the country. No four-wheeler can go where a horse can go and have the cow sense to put a stubborn old cow where she needs to be quite as well as a good cow pony. Despite all the modern changes to ranching, a cowboy on his horse is still the best way to round ‘em up and get ‘em loaded.

Recently someone wrote about how some Africans feel about giraffes and maybe zebras as well—pretty useless except as tourist attractions. Granted, the giraffe looks as if it were a horse planned by a committee, but they don’t do much grazing on the ground. If they could live in Texas, I can see them being useful in some of the brush country. The cougars would be about the only real threat to them unless the feral hogs developed a taste for longnecks.

Some years ago a few ranchers imported a whole herd of camels to clean out the brush in their pastures. Now whether the brush was affected or not, traffic definitely slowed down along those stretches of highway where the camels grazed. Every kid has probably asked to stop at least once along Highway 287 to feed the camels. And yes, they will eat Cheetos and almost anything else offered to them. As far as I know, the Highway Patrol never had much luck stopping speeders along a stretch where there were camels.

A zebra looks just a bit like a cross between an Appaloosa Ranger and a good mule. But apparently these animals are not ridden or in any other way made to conform to the demands of men. That is a truly curious thing to me. Pecos Bill would have harnessed them and driven them four in hand. Anyone who has ever seen a Brahman bull or buffalo saddled would quickly realize that it was done for show rather than comfort, so maybe that is the problem with our striped friends from Africa. They are just too showy! Ahem.

The Africans seem to believe that they have to keep the “exotic” animals to keep tourists coming. We have some exotics in Texas. They are called mesquite trees. Doggoned if I have ever seen any in a zoo!

No comments: