A Poem: “Black And White”


Costly to keep the pandas

in Toronto Zoo.


$3 million shelter renovation


$2.6 million annual maintenance, including

$150,000 insurance

$238,000 staffing

$550,000 food flown in from Memphis

$1 million hosting fee to China.


Now they reside in Calgary Zoo

at even greater cost.


$30 million habitat and infrastructure.


State-of-the-art enclosure

– 21,000 square feet of indoor-outdoor space –

featuring a waterfall, lush vegetation,

both heated and cooled rocks

for utmost comfort.


In the back, a nursing den

in case of pregnancy.


Fresh food from the mountains of China

– nine varieties of bamboo –

flown in twice a week

for $1.5 million annually.


Hosting fee

grows to $1.4 million.


Meanwhile at Canada-U.S. border crossings,

asylum seekers from Haiti and Nigeria.


They cause a housing crisis,

says Ontario Premier.


We should not pay for that situation,

says Ontario Social Services Minister.


We have no more room for migrants,

says Toronto Mayor.


(Editor’s note:  poet Shai Ben-Shalom, an Israeli-born biologist, examines current events in the Blacklock’s tradition each and every Sunday)

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