Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
By Virge Randall

Recently, a near-extinct species from the antelope family got a reprieve when “Felipe,” a male scimitar-horned oryx, was born in captivity at the Staten Island Zoo. Apparently evolution, like everything else in the City, happens faster here — the speed of change would make Charles Darwin carsick.

Felipe’s birth means the forces against extinction win one, for once, and offers some encouragement to some other native species facing extinction, such as:


The Free-Range Automobilius Exasperatus
Once, vast herds of these roamed freely throughout the metropolitan area, traveling as far as Montauk, the Rockaways, Upstate, and Connecticut, relying on its homing instincts for “a spot” on its return. Loss of habitat due to bike lanes, pedestrian malls, and Citibike slots have driven many into garages.

The Free Range Automobilius Exasperatus in its spot is a placid creature, observable most mornings quietly doing a crossword while waiting for Sanitation to finish pushing the garbage to the next block. On the prowl, however, jungle law prevails. Pedestrians must not engage this creature while it’s circling the streets hunting for a spot, especially on the final evening of a long holiday weekend. Don’t make eye contact and avoid any display of keys — if they think you’re leaving a spot a desperate hunter could follow you in his car all the way to the front door of your apartment.

Competition for the dwindling number of parking spots has led to broken windshields, keyed cars, and the occasional tabloid headline. Soon there will be only one Automobilius Exasperatus in the entire city, and it will still have trouble finding a place to park.


The Large-Mouth Buttinsky
Long before Twitter feeds, Large Mouth Buttinskys were the open channel for unsolicited commentary, news, or advice on the behavior, circumstances, parenting skills, and relationship choices of everyone else. Their sensitive antenna – possibly built in their hair curlers – could intercept a juicy piece of gossip up to half a block away, like when the guy in 2B sat in his car for a good half hour with another woman while his wife was visiting her mom in Chicago.

Large Mouth Buttinskys began migrating south when they risked freelance tooth extractions for unsolicited opinions offered to people with poor impulse control and a good right hook. Small Mouth Buttinskys can still be found working with smaller prey, admonishing line-cutters, litterers, and people who don’t pick up after their dogs.


The All-Purpose Fixeraptor
It’s harder to get help for a bulky appliance that’s out of warranty, or retrieve a ring that fell down a drain, now that there are fewer All-Purpose Fixeraptors. Seldom seen without a tool belt, the All-Purpose Fixeraptor’s natural habitat is a junk store that aspires to be a hardware store, crammed with items that look like birth control devices for Martians.

Despite the disarray, Fixeraptors can diagnose a problem and locate the right item to fix it within five seconds while channeling the Repair Gods’ arcane language with advice like “Just detach the plintuckment from the rear shamattaratta, and screw this in. You’ll know you’re doing it right when the flooding stops.”

Their numbers have dwindled as rising rents close the basement apartments and storefronts that house them. Those who remain are a vital resource to apartment dwellers who wouldn’t know the business end of a hammer if they were hit with one, or who wish to stay under the radar of their natural enemy, the Landlordius Rapacious and his agent, an individual unworthy of the title Super. Unlike the Fixeraptors, the inaptly named Super will be impossible to reach or will try an unconvincing story that the radiator is supposed to sound like that.


Efforts to maintain the diversity of New York’s urban habitat are still a hit and miss affair. No one’s setting up a GoFundMe campaign to save the Wild Haired Urban Screamer who roams neighborhoods testing decibel levels – but there’s an enthusiastic freelance breeding program for the Aspiring Model. It’s a give and take situation and New Yorkers are nothing if not adaptive. Now if only we can do something about the proliferation of the dreaded Luxury High-Rise Crane

….but don’t get me started about that.