06/15/2009 01:04 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Brotherhood of Lions Offers Concessions to Zookeepers

Faced with a sharp drop in its endowment and a $15 million deficit the society which operates the Bronx Zoo announced what it called a realignment intended to make it "meaner, leaner and greener."

--The New York Times

Dear Director of the Bronx Zoo:

First I would like to say how much all of us here enjoy living in the greatest city in the world, specifically The Bronx, home to the world champion New York Yankees and also the birthplace of hiphop. We understand that in these difficult times some layoffs are inevitable but before any decisions are made we would like to remind you that as "kings of the jungle" we are some of the very most popular residents of your spectacular institution. True, each of us can eat up to 88 pounds per meal and we fully realize that the price of rib eye has gone up forty percent since last august. When compared to our colleagues who consume nothing but grass or nutmeats we of course realize the premium you have placed on our well-being and for that we are eternally grateful.

That is why, as good citizens, we are willing to put forward several novel concessions to our present agreement. In the face of more drastic measures we are willing to reduce some of our health-care and pension benefits. For example, veterinary dentistry visits could be reduced to annually from semi-annually. Also, we concede to raising the level of the current "heat break" clause, requiring us not to leave our dens to greet visitors when the heat index reaches 86, to a new threshold of 90. And until positive revenue returns to your storied institution we also agree to clean our own cages.

Finally, our most exciting belt-tightening proposal we feel is a novel, out-out-of-the box solution to this economic downturn. Yes, lions eat a lot of meat. What if you just didn't have to buy us so much?

Our neighbors next door, the Grevy's Zebras, for example, are almost too many to count. And thanks to years of your generosity we feel it is our duty to inform you that more than a few of them are now verging on the obese. For example, there is a certain mature mare, Linda, I believe, whose rear haunches are noticeably -- how should I put this delicately -- plump. When she runs (which is rare) she positively jiggles. A zebra so zaftig would never be seen on the savanna so we feel that her presence has a seriously deleterious effect on the pedagogy upon which this institution prides itself.

She is not alone. After very careful scrutiny we are confident that none of the schoolchildren or tourists would miss say, a half-dozen of our aging, overfed neighbors.

We also see very interesting and highly lucrative marketing opportunities along with the obvious money-saving aspects to our proposal. The event could be ticketed at a premium and the resulting video footage could be licensed and distributed via the web.

If the zebra event goes half as well as forecasted we envision further shows with some of our other neighbors like the Bubal Hartebeest, the Pronghorn Antelope and the Arabian Oryx, to name a few. When we look around your beautifully manicured conservancy we see and smell nothing but possibility.

Eagerly awaiting your reply.

Leonard Simba
International Brotherhood of Lions