Monday, September 23, 2013

The Mink: A Modern Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, there was a girl who worked at a zoo.  Her name was Emma.  Emma loved animals, and went out of her way to care for those who she came in contact with. 

The zoo was a wonderful, peaceful place, but just up the river lived a very different kind of place.  It was called a Mink Farm.  The Mink Farm was home to hundreds of small minks, and each spring, when they transferred the baby minks away from their parents, some of the minks escaped and swam downriver to the zoo.

At the zoo, there lived many exotic, expensive birds.  The zoo was poor and humble and couldn't afford to lose any of their birds.  Unfortunately, these small black minks decided that the birds tasted wonderful, and so the edict was decreed.  Anyone who killed a mink would receive a free pizza.

All of the workers at the zoo began to hunt for the lithe creatures, but they were difficult to find and even harder to catch.  Then, one day when Emma and another girl named Felicia were working at the zoo, they found that they had caught one in a live trap.  Its little whiskered face looking through the bars right at her.  Its tiny black eyes were locked onto hers and its black fur framed its tiny fox-like face.  It was a small creature, only about foot long including the tail and very thin.  As she looked at it, it climbed upside down on the bars, its padded feet clasping them as it stared at her.  It was really cute.

Emma and Felicia didn't know what to do.  Neither of them had killed an animal before, but for the protection of the zoo, they knew it needed to be done.  Some people at the zoo preferred drowning the minks, but Emma and Felicia thought that this sounded terrible. 

So, they decided to use the CO2 chamber that the zoo used to put down animals that were injured beyond help.  Gassing sounded a lot more humane than drowning.  

As Emma carried the trap back to the Blue Building where the tank was, she could barely feel any weight from the small carnivore.  The trap tipped slightly as the mink ran back and forth and as she reached the Blue Building, she placed it on the ground instead of going immediately inside and waited for Felicia to arrive.  She felt really bad.  She didn’t want to kill the little guy, but knew if they didn’t, he would just go on killing more of the birds.  The mink wasn’t scared of her at all.  She talked to him gently and he came up to the bars, his little nose and whiskers twitching and he tried to smell her.  After a while, he let out a high pitched squeak that was amazingly loud.  It was almost like he was calling for his mother.  About that time Felicia arrived and they entered the building.  They went to the incubator room where the gas chamber was stored, which was basically one of those plastic boxes with the overlapping lids.  It had a small tube hole in the bottom where the CO2 was attached.  Here was where they faced their first dilemma.

They didn’t know how to get the mink from the trap into the small gas chamber box.  They turned the trap so that the door was facing down into the box and pushed the door in so the mink could come out.  However, the mink simply climbed to the top of the trap.  So, they tried to shake the mink out into the box.  Of course, this upset the mink slightly, so when it finally poured out of the trap, it also poured out of the box and ran and hid behind the fridge-like incubator.  The little guy was like liquid lead.

 Now they were faced with a new dilemma.  They tried various things.  Emma went and got a net and Felicia grabbed a mop and she clanged the mop while Emma sat on the other side with the net ready and waiting.  When the mink came running out, she managed to get the net over it.  However, the next thing she knew, the mink was back behind the fridge.  Baffled, they tried again.  After the second time, they took a look at their net and found that it had a large hole in it.  So, they went and got another net.  At that point, Emma started talking to it and to her surprise, it began to come out to the sound of her voice.   She felt very deceitful as she smooth talked the mink out from behind the incubator.  Like a princess, the sound of her voice lulled the creature into coming toward her.  They managed to get him in the new net twice that way, only to discover that this new one had holes in it as well. 

 They went and got the third and final net.  It appeared to be hole-less, but they weren’t as trusting this time.  Felicia left for a while to go see if she could trap another mink which had shown up in Pond 3, and Emma tried to get the mink to come out again.  He came out most of the way a couple more times, but he had learned his lesson.  Then, after looking around a bit, Emma discovered that Felicia could put a pole behind the fridge and push the mink toward her if she crouched on top of the other incubator next to the fridge-like incubator.  She called her back to come help her and she did so.  They managed to catch him a couple more times, only to have him slip out of holes they hadn’t seen.  So, they took masking tape and sealed the net off completely.  The next time they caught him, he held.
 At which point they faced the next dilemma.  The top of the net was bigger than the box.  There was really no good way that they knew of to get the mink into the gas box.  In the attempt, he escaped again.  They tried twice more, only to have him finally escape and run to the other side of the very small room, where he trapped himself in a corner behind plexiglass and cardboard.  They then had a much smaller net and they seized upon this chance immediately.  They blocked off the exit except for the net and Emma brought the pole down through the top and he ran right into the small net.  At which point, they placed the gas box upside down over him and let him out of the net into the gas box.
 One of the overlapping tops was under the box while the other was not.  They now had another problem of how to flip the box over and close the lid.  After thinking for a minute, Emma took a board and slowly pushed it under the box.  Then, holding it tightly over the opening, they pulled the box upright, with the cardboard effectively sealing the exit.  Then they removed the cardboard and shut the lid, trapping the poor terrified mink in the box.  They were both sweating and tired, and the mink which had so far only hissed at them suddenly began a repeat performance of the squeak it had done outside.  Only in repetition this time.  The loud squeaks, which were startlingly similar to a hawks shrieks, but louder, rang in their ears.  After a while he stopped though, and ran around the mostly see-through box, his face following our hands as they moved the box around to the CO2 tank.  They then attached the hose and figured out how to turn it on.  Now they knew why some of the others just drowned them in the traps. 

They left the room at that point.  When they came back ten minutes later, the small mink lay unmoving on his side in the box.  They turned off the tank.  It was a very depressing moment.  As cute as the minks are though, they are highly dangerous creatures.  As the night person came that night he told them that he placed plastic bags over the wire opening and taped the hose directly to the trap and just gassed it in there.  They decided he was a genius.

Though the ending of the mink was quite tragic, the birds survived and the zoo lived happily ever after. The two workers were awarded with pizza coupons and they lived long and happy lives.

The moral of the story?  I'm not sure.  Maybe it's

Sometimes when we try to be kind, we end up causing more agony to everyone. 

That doesn't seem right though.


Don't gas a mink.

Yes, that's probably it.  


  1. OK. You're going to think this is weird. BUt I wrote a poem about having to kill my pet guinea bird which got trapped between the chicken coop wall & the fence. The thing is, in the poem it sounds like i had the courage to do the merciful thing & kill the bird but in reality, I was too chicken. And I let it die a probably agonizing several-days death of exposure. Mercy really does sometimes mean doing things you'd find incomprehensible. If you're interested, here's the poem :)

    1. That's quite good. It kind of reminds me of the mice that we froze the other day. It was sad and rather tragic, but more merciful in the long run. Thanks for commenting.