Mel Richardson, veterinarian and animal advocate died, suddenly, on January 2nd. He was 63 years old. Mel accomplished so much in his lifetime. He also taught me most things worth knowing about animals.
Just a few things I learned from him:
- Orangs who sit on their heels rocking back and forth are masturbating.
- Elephant feet are the Achilles heel of captive pachyderms, their health problems will always start there first.
- Don’t get married just to have sex.
- One way to know if you’re going to be compatible with someone is to smell the top of their head (he swore he tries to do this stealthily so women won’t know what’s going on).
- Baby gorillas like jumping up and down on beds like small children.
- Pablo Escobar had a room full of carved wooden phalluses where he’d relax with his men after a long day of drug running.
- If you have to watch hours of videotape of horse slaughter, it’s best to have stiff drink nearby.
- There is no justification good enough to keep a wild animal captive.
- People can be wretched but they can also be good. Wildly good.
I do not want to live in a world without Mel. The animal kingdom has lost its greatest, most devoted, funniest champion. He saw the darkest parts of our animal nature and didn’t turn away, instead he turned toward them and tried to make them better. In this way, Mel worked so hard to save us from ourselves, to heal the animals that others had hurt. I will never stop hoping for my phone to ring, to hear his Georgian drawl, his guffaw, and his sign off: “Love you gurl.” I love you too Mel. And I know that wherever you are, you’re surrounded by all those lady chimps who had crushes on you, a few dozen elephants who recognize you, a couple of your long lost dogs, and an ark’s worth of grateful creatures who got there before you and are thrilled you’ve finally arrived.