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February 19, 2005

The Gorilla of My Dreams

An e-mail correspondent alerts me to the fact that:

Two former employees of the Gorilla Foundation, home to Koko the "talking" ape, have filed a lawsuit contending that they were ordered to bond with the 33-year-old female simian by displaying their breasts.


[ . . . ]

Their lawsuit, filed Tuesday in San Mateo County Superior Court, alleges sexual discrimination, wrongful termination in retaliation for reporting health and safety violations, and failure to pay overtime or provide rest breaks.

[ . . . ]

The suit follows complaints filed by Alperin and Keller in January with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, in which they gave identical reasons for why they were fired: "I refused to expose my breast to perform acts of bestiality with one of the gorillas."

The lawsuit goes into more detail.

One example: "On at least two incidents in mid-to-late June 2004, Patterson intensely pressured Keller to expose herself to Koko while they were working outside where other employees could potentially view Keller's naked body. ... On one such occasion, Patterson said, 'Koko, you see my nipples all the time. You are probably bored with my nipples. You need to see new nipples. I will turn my back so Kendra can show you her nipples.' "

[ . . . ]

"This is absolutely a first," she said. "I've never heard of anything like it."

The zoo's publicist, Sue Allen, said, "Those of us in Cleveland would say: 'Only in San Francisco.' "

OK. Sex discrimination? Hmm. Does showing your nipples to a gorilla equate to a sex act? Or perhaps they mean it's sex discrimination that men weren't ordered to show their nipples. Or perhaps that Koko wanted to see their nipples. But Koko is female, so doesn't that complicate the charge of sex discrimination. I don't really get it. Maybe Koko could help explain it to me.

Perform bestiality? Do all the people who walk around naked in front of their pets also perform bestiality? Not being an expert on these matters, I think I'll defer to our wise audience.

Posted by TangoMan at 09:58 PM