Religion in the News

Fire Starting Chimp to be Destroyed at San Diego Zoo

by Elroy Willis

SAN DIEGO (EAP) -- A Bonobo chimp nicknamed "Sparky" is scheduled to be destroyed next week after he somehow learned how to create fire, and is seen as a danger to the other animals and the zoo itself.

Seen in the photo above, Sparky has just set fire to some straw, as his mate and young son watch over him.

"We couldn't believe what we were seeing," said zoo workers who witnessed Sparky gathering straw into a pile and then rolling a stick back-and-forth in the palm of his hands on top of another piece of wood to create an actual fire. He's still a little afraid of fire and jumps back when the fire starts, as can be seen in the photo, but he's still determined to start fires whenever he gets the chance and feels like it.

"We don't know how or where he learned how to do this," zoo officals said. "It's possible that one of our employees taught Sparky how to start fires, but no one has stepped forward to take credit so far."

After hearing of Sparky's fire-starting abilities, a local group of fundamentalist Christians petitioned to have Sparky put to death, claiming that he's obviously under the control of Satan.

"God would never allow chimps to conquer fire. There's no way He'd make that part of His perfect plan," they said.

"We have to kill him before he teaches his wife and son how to create fire," they said. "The zoo people want to ship Sparky off to some other zoo and keep him alive, but it's clear to us that he needs to be destroyed."

In addition to the idea of shipping Sparky off to another zoo, several San Diego zoo workers have offered to personally adopt Sparky and keep him at their homes, but pressure from Christian fundamentalists has proven too strong, and zoo officials have reluctantly agreed to turn Sparky over to the Christians who will put him to death next week.

"Most of our income and funding comes from God-fearing Christians who don't know or don't believe that we're related to chimps, so we have a duty to respect their wishes," they said.

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