You don’t have to answer that. But answer this: What do you get when you cross a lemur, a monkey, and an alligator named Bob? If you’re Arlin Valdez-Castillo—you get angry skin lesions and a humdinger of a lawsuit. According to court documents, in 2004, Ms. Valdez-Castillo, a housekeeper at a Hampton Inn in Miami, allegedly developed zoonosis (a disease spread from animals to humans) after cleaning hotel rooms occupied by lemurs, spider monkeys, a parrot, and a five-foot long alligator named Bob. I kid you not.
Part of a traveling zoo hired by Busch Gardens, Bob and his buddies allegedly left lots of dander, urine, feathers, and feces for Ms. Valdez-Castillo to clean up. After falling seriously ill, she was hospitalized for two weeks with skin lesions all over her body, which doctors attributed to coming into contact with exotic animals. Five years later, she still has recurring lesions and a painful infection that has spread to her nervous system. But wait, there’s more: Ms. Valdez-Castillo also claims that she was kidnapped by two men who took her to a cemetery and warned her to drop the lawsuit (I’m thinking that Valerie Bertinelli should play her in the Lifetime movie).
So what did lawyers for Busch Gardens have to say about all this? It’s Valdez-Castillo’s fault that she was allergic to the animals. In other words, stop bitching and take a Benadryl. Honestly though, how much sympathy can you really expect from a corporation that carts animals around to “entertain” at basketball games, schools, and other events? After all, animals used in roadside menageries and traveling zoo exhibits are deprived of just about everything that is natural to them. Their lives are a constant cycle of traveling in cramped cages and being gawked at, poked at, and mishandled by noisy crowds. Not to mention the fact that animal exhibits are public-health disasters waiting to happen. We’re talking tens of thousands of cases of salmonella and E. coli from casual contact with animals every year!
So, what have we learned? Let’s see—steer clear of all animal exhibits and hotel rooms with monkey crap on the carpet.
Written by Amy Elizabeth