The day we killed the hippopotamus

It takes the death of an innocent, a vulnerable, an exposed, to shake a nation’s sensibilities. The canon ball that sparks indignation, wails demanding justice.

There is something about the deliberate, cruel murder of an animal that seems to indicate humanity has truly evaporated.

Husband asphyxiating wife, mother drowning child, father raping daughter, friend shooting friend, enemy dismembering enemy. Fourteen lives slaughtered daily, selected with the same carefree attitude one chooses tomatoes at the supermarket. We are not shaken. Our filth has trickled so far down the gutter we no longer bother to clean it. Occasionally, a child. Still untouched, still unmarked by the deranged spark that seems to categorize us. The crouching demon with the spidery legs has not sat on their right shoulder yet.

It takes an animal. The antithesis of human.

It takes an animal. The one deemed brainless. The one deemed soulless.

It takes an animal to remind us we are worse than rabid animals.

It takes an animal to remind us we are an infection, and we are spreading, and we are contaminating, and we are oozing pus, leaving a trail of gangrene.

Our labels for humanity are all askew.


Read all about the murder of Gustavito, a hippopotamus living in El Salvador’s national zoo. (Links en Español)

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