Sheep go to Heaven, Goats don’t go to Harare*

Perhaps the story about Cecil the lion being gunned down by an American dentist has focused attention on Zimbabwe again, but of all the questions I’d like to ask Mugabe though about his economically disastrous and politically lethal policies, this wasn’t one of them:

Why Did Robert Mugabe Ban Goats From A City Where There Are No Goats?

NPR asks why Mugabe has turned against goats, arguing in an “anti-goat manifesto” that “We do not want … the sort of mayhem in other countries where you see goats in the city center.”  I didn’t realize that goats creating mayhem was a real problem in “other countries.”  It appears to be a non-problem in Harare, where there are almost no goats to be seen. According to the article, 98% of all Zim goats live in agricultural areas.  Voila!  Problem solved!

The article goes on to ask why Mugabe would focus on goats when there is 80% unemployment in the country. To ask the question is to answer it.  He doesn’t seem to be able to do anything to actually help the economy, so if he wants to be able to tout a successful public policy, it’s best to choose a problem that doesn’t exist in the first place.

Speaking of goats….

NPR has another story about the proliferation of goats at the Congressional Cemetery in DC.  The president of the cemetery (wow, that’s a weird job title) has hired about 30 goats at the price of $9,000 a month. [perhaps Zimbabwe and the DC cemetery could work out a deal given the going rates for goat rentals in the US??]  The ruminants are a big hit, bringing thousands of people to the cemetery to interact with them.  I understand using the goats to clear and fertilize the land, but the president also says that the goats are wonderful because “a lot of families with kids are coming in to the cemetery and often seeing a goat for the first time.” Hmm, is that a good thing?  It’s not like getting kids to a museum or something. Goats as a gateway ruminant to appreciating cemeteries.

*n.b. The title of this post is homage to one of my favorite songs by Cake: “Sheep go to Heaven, Goats Go to Hell

p.s. In case you haven’t gotten enough goat news today, here is an article about “A Man Trying to Live Life As a Goat.”  It’s definitely worth clicking on just for the photos, but here is a quick and amazing description: “He commissioned prosthetics for his arms and legs so that he could walk, as comfortably as possible, on all fours. He considered constructing an artificial rumen that would digest grass for him to consume, using actual gut bacteria found in goats. He consulted with a behavioural expert on goats, and even watched as a goat was dissected, to learn more about the animal he wanted to be.”  Wow, not sure what to say to that.