A few years ago, after visiting a zoo with my then wife, she asked me if we could adopt one of the animals.
“I’m not having a llama in the kitchen,” I fumed. “Not after the last time!”
She then told me that the zoo were actively encouraging people to “adopt” their animals with small adoption fees for the tortoises to larger fees for the tigers, lions and elephants.
The adoption gave you naming rights for your chosen animal and you’d also receive birthday and Christmas cards, photos and newsletters with updates as to how the animal was.
After consulting my wallet, we decided to adopt a meerkat and named her Mary.
I was naturally suspicious. After all, surely if the animals could remember your birthday, type newsletters and send good quality selfies, then they should have been in the circus or the Magic Circle, not kept in a zoo.
The newsletters were largely drab affairs. Consisting of thanking us for our financial support and how much food Mary had managed to buy and eat with it.
They were a bit disappointing as, given her fantastic administrative skill set, Mary could have used the money to go to university, get a degree in Business Studies and achieve something rather than sitting in a large sand dune, suspiciously carrying out 360-degree surveillance on the zookeeper.
When we discussed our financial investment with friends over dinner, we discovered that Mary wasn’t all she seemed. They showed us exactly the same picture of their adopted meerkat from the same zoo but theirs was called Charlie.
After further investigation, we discovered that many other people had adopted the same meerkat who was using different male/female identities to con people out of their money.
When we gathered and marched into the zoo to ask to see their fraudulent meerkat, they reported that it wasn’t around and had strangely escaped overnight.
Two weeks later, we all received a selfie postcard from the meerkat in a casino in Las Vegas.