NEW YORK – Bongo, a six-year old male gorilla living in the Bronx Zoo, has come down with a case of the sniffles. “We’re not sure exactly what it is,” his veterinarian, Dr. Felix Shot, told reporters at a packed news conference in the zoo’s cafeteria. “Maybe it’s a cold. Maybe it’s the flu. We’re keeping him warm, and feeding him ten gallons of chicken soup a day. He loves chicken soup.”
Humans and gorillas share many of the same genes. Sally Lab, director of the Not in Kansas Anymore Institute for the Study of Evolution, said that humans and gorillas have 97.7% of their DNA in common. When asked if that meant that humans could catch the flu from gorillas, she replied, “It’s never happened before.” When pressed, she added, “I suppose it could be possible. I mean, anything is possible.”
Michael Chertoff, head of the Department of Homeland Security, issued a terse statement. “We are vigilant against all threats from people and animals who do not share our commitment to freedom. Bongo the gorilla, who has spent his entire life in captivity, obviously resents our freedoms. The Democrats would like to hug that hairy terrorist. Only the Republicans will protect you.”
“The most important thing is to stay calm,” the Surgeon General said in an appearance on cable news, where the emerging threat has been dubbed “Kong flu” in honor of the famous destructive cinema ape. “Even if Kong flu does spread to humans,” the Surgeon General said, “and even if it then starts to spread exponentially throughout the population so that within a week, the hospitals will be overflowing and everyone you know will be lying in the gutter, howling with pain, with no one left to tend to them – just remember, you have nothing to fear but fear itself. Take a deep breath. If that doesn’t work, have a cigarette. What the hell, you might as well, you’re going to be dead soon anyway.”
Gene Flutter, Undersecretary for Public Relations at the Department of Health and Human Services, echoed the message to stay calm. “Really, there’s nothing to worry about,” he said. “This is all being blown out of proportion. And – oh, excuse me – ah …. ah …. ah-CHOOO! Omigod! Omigod! I’ve got it! It’s here! It’s spreading! Omigod, we’re all going to die!”
One hundred thousand Bronx residents have signed a petition demanding that Bongo be moved out of the borough and sent someplace else, like Brooklyn. “A sick ape? Fergeheddaboutit,” Brooklyn Borough president Sam Noway said. Dr. Shot, Bongo’s veterinarian, predicted that Bongo would be feeling better in a day or two, but nobody was listening.