The mind wanders down some strange paths at times like this, and so for no reason other than random, sleepless 3AM curiosity I did an on-line search of checkout counter tabloids’ stories about animals. To my surprise, the Enquirer proved disappointing, focusing far more ink on the foibles of politicians and celebrities than on giant man-eating toads. Eventually, I found my way to an archive of Weekly World News cover pages. We’re talking treasure trove! Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the Weekly World News which, since all the news that’s fit to print was already taken, touts itself as The World’s Only Reliable Newspaper. Let me save you the effort and give you a sample of that Reliable Newspaper’s animal beat.
Cats, in particular, are an apparent favorite although they are not exactly lovingly portrayed. “Kitten Guilty of Murder: Sign The Petition Inside or Fluffy Dies!” “Tubby Tabby Rules Retirement Roost! Fat Cat Owns 23 Old Ladies!” “Vampire Cat Captured: Bowl of Human Blood Used As Bait!” The most benign, although itself not exactly un-peculiar feline headline, “Strange Breed of Cat Found on Mars!” Dogs do considerably better, with this as fairly representative, “Half-Man Half-Dog Baffles Doctors: ‘My Wife Loves The Way I Look,’ says 38-Year-Old Newlywed” along with a picture of what appears to be a feather duster wearing a suit and tie.
The half-this, half-that theme shows up time and time again, as in “Snake with Human Head Found in Arkansas!,” “Dolphin Grows Human Arms: Creature Loves Humans and Uses Sign Language, say Marine Scientists!,” “Chimp’s Head Put on Human Body: Half Man, Half Ape Doing Fine After Shocking Transplant!,” and “Horse Born with Human Face!: ‘Colt Even Smiles when He’s Given an Apple,’ says Doc.” Whether or not it’s the same doctor involved in these stories, there’s no way of knowing. Oh, and a long-toothed bald toddler with wings shows up now and then: “Bat Boy Leads Cops on 3 State Chase” and “Bay Boy Lives!,” as just two examples.
Among the more disturbing, we find “Gordon Ramsay Sex Dwarf Eaten by Badger” and “Saddam and Osama Adopt Shaved Ape Baby.” And as for personal favorite, “Woman Killed by Fur Coat! $30G Full-Length Mink COMES ALIVE and Bites Rich Widow to Death!”