Love is in the air for Rusti
Things are looking up for Rusti, the disgruntled orangutan. Rusti has been sort of the Rodney Dangerfield of animal inmates at the Honolulu Zoo, forced to live alone in a small enclosure for many years while other animals luxuriate in African savanna-type spreads. If you wandered by his hovel, you might have heard him mumble, "I'm tellin' ya, I get no respect."
Rusti the orangutan:
He'll share his digs with a female orangutan, Violet.
But now he's got a swanky 8,168-square-foot bachelor pad complete with bedrooms, a day room, an open sky cage and a banyan tree. The best thing is that the new digs come complete with a hot chick. That's right, Rusti's going to be shacking up with an orangutan babe.
Her name is Violet, and by orangutan standards she's a hottie: big, hairy, strong ... with dreamy eyes. She's 28 years old, three years older than Rusti. Hopefully, Rusti's into older females. Actually, Rusti's been alone for so long, he'd probably be happy to hang out with a cross-dressing, octogenarian panda.
It's going to be several weeks before Rusti gets to meet Violet, who just got here from the San Diego Zoo, where she no doubt left a few broken hearts. She'll be in quarantine for four weeks. That should give Rusti some time to get into shape. He's over 300 pounds and who can blame him? Sitting around in his cramped quarters, with nothing to do but watch "Wild Kingdom" all day on the tube and eat bonbons.
Rusti, buddy, time to start some cardio-vascular work and maybe try the South Beach Hairy Primate Diet. No more carbs for you, my man. You've got a babe in your midst. Violet didn't come all the way to Hawaii to meet King Kong. You're a good-lookin' ape, Rusti, but right now your face is the size of a manhole cover.
It remains to be seen whether Rusti is rusty in the love department. At first the two orangutans will be separated by a fence so they can make eyeballs at each other from afar. Eventually they will get to "socialize," but don't expect any Rusti Juniors to result. According to a report by the Star-Bulletin's Rosemarie Bernardo, Violet's a hybrid, a combination Sumatran and Bornean orangutan and so is not allowed to breed. But that doesn't mean the two kids won't be allowed to snuggle in their state-of-the-orangutan-art hacienda.
This is all good news for Rusti, who's been getting the short end of the banana for years. He's sat in his small enclosure while celebrity apes such as Koko, the hot-shot "talking gorilla," is offered 70 acres on Maui. Nobody bothered to teach Rusti sign language. If they had he might have said, "Look at this place. It's not big enough for an aardvark to change his mind. And those monkeys over there, that place is like the Taj Mahal. And what do they do? Spend the whole day throwing poo at visitors. I tell ya, it's not fair. The kinkajou's got a hot tub, I got a mud puddle. And I don't like the way that elephant is lookin' at me. Back off, big stuff, I'm not into inter-species dating. I tell ya, I get no respect."
Charles Memminger, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail email@example.com