Monday, May 18, 2015

the last book I ever read (Elizabeth Kolbert's The Sixth Extinction, excerpt seven)

from the 2015 Pulitzer Prize winner for General Nonfiction The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert:

The first view I got of Suci was her prodigious backside. It was about three feet wide and stippled with coarse, reddish hair. Her ruddy brown skin had the texture of pebbled linoleum. Suci, a Sumatran rhino, lives at the Cincinnati Zoo, where she was born in 2004. The afternoon of my visit, several other people were also arrayed around her formidable rump. They were patting it affectionately, so I reached over and gave it a rub. It felt like petting a tree trunk.

Dr. Terri Roth, director of the zoo’s Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife, had arrived at the rhino’s stall wearing scrubs. Roth is tall and thin, with long brown hair that she had pinned up in a bun. She pulled on a clear plastic glove that stretched over her right forearm, past the elbow, almost to her shoulder. One of Suci’s keepers wrapped the rhino’s tail in what looked like Saran Wrap and held it off to the side. Another keeper grabbed a pail and stationed himself by Suci’s mouth. It was hard for me to see over Suci’s bottom, but I was told he was feeding the rhino slices of apples, and I could hear her chomping away at them. While Suci was thus distracted, Roth pulled a second glove over the first and grabbed what looked like a video game remote. Then she stuck her arm into the rhino’s anus.

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