When I was living in Arkansas for a short spell, I went with my visiting parents to the Memphis Zoo. It was in the birdhouse that I got a close up view of how brutal the world can be.

I was in front of the Kookaburra exhibit, and it was feeding time. A small mouse was put into the cage, and before long the bird had the prey in it’s beak. I don’t know what posessed me to keep watching…I don’t like scenes like this. I could never own an animal that had to be fed other live animals, but I could not tear my eyes away.

The Kookaburra sat on a branch right in front of the window, and folks began to gather as he worked the mouse back and forth in his beak, like he was eating an ear of corn. He would crunch down on the mouse, flattening him more and more with each pass.

I began to notice the area under the mouse’s tail growing larger – and back and forth he went in the Kookaburra’s mouth. After a while the Kookaburra changed tactics. With a strong beak-hold on the mouse, he began whacking it against the trunk of the tree. With each whack, the bulge under the mouse’s grew and grew, until….


As the mouse’s ass exploded, entrails splattered on the window, and hung in bloody ropes on the branches of the tree. Then he swallowed the flattened, tenderized mouse down.

Yeah, I was done. As I walked away I thought of that song…

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
Merry, merry king of the bush is he
Laugh, Kookaburra! Laugh, Kookaburra!
Gay your life must be

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
Eating all the gum drops he can see
Stop, Kookaburra! Stop, Kookaburra!
Leave some there for me

It made me wonder what misinformed nincompoop wrote that song. This feeding was probably the most savage thing I had ever witnessed in person, and I was now puzzled by these lyrics celebrating the happy-go-lucky Kookaburra! He’s a murderous fiend!

I have a strong suspicion that Marion Sinclair, the song’s writer, was on serious acid. Cause I got news for you honey….them ‘aint gumdrops he’s eating.