A West Midland zoo is witnessing record numbers of visitors, after deciding to fatten up all its animals with cakes. Solihull zoological park is the first sanctuary for obese animals, and members of the public say they feel much better about themselves after visiting.
"When you've spent all week sat at a desk eating crisps, you don't want to waste your spare time looking at sleek animals in peak physical condition", explained Howard Holstead, the park's head keeper. "I got the idea after telling a family from Dudley that our cheetah was the fastest animal on the planet, and the second-fattest kid called it a 'vain twat'."
Unlike other zoos, Visitors are actively encouraged to feed the animals. "You're never going to bloat a meerkat with salad", warned Holstead, "but it turns out they really like Big Macs. The crowds love watching them sucking cheese out of each other's fur or laying there, gasping for breath."
The high-fat diet has caused subtle changes in the behaviour of some animals. "The meerkats seem reluctant to look out for predators, possibly because of the effort required to give even the less stocky ones a bunk-up into their tree. But the most interesting development is the use of tools by the chimps, they've learned how to break into the control room and order pizza."
Holstead took a proactive approach towards animal rights groups and invited them to visit the zoo before they could protest. "They were ready to have a right old go", he confirmed, "but when they got here, they were impressed with how jolly all the animals looked." Any thoughts of freeing the animals was quickly dropped by activists, once they realised just how big they'd have to cut the holes in the fencing.
"They asked why we hadn't bothered feeding up a wallaby they were looking at, but I explained it was just a fat rabbit picking biscuits out of the folds of its stomach. It’s an easy mistake to make, but real wallabies use their pouches as cup holders."
Humphries is delighted with his experiment, and has noticed a number of advantages. "Most of the animals can't be bothered to escape, so we save a fortune on maintaining the cages", he explained. "It's now perfectly safe to walk through the safari park, where you can watch my staff shooting the lions with insulin darts."
Not everyone at the zoo has embraced the new cuddly animals, and Humphries recently had to fire the park’s dietitian. “We need to make sure our animals receive a high percentage of fried food, but Mrs Griffiths was found to be preparing some meals by cooking them over a low heat, in a light bouillon. That’s the sort of thing that could completely undermine our efforts to introduce tubby animals into the wild: you’ve really got to keep an eye out for poachers.”