Early look at Wild Animal Park, troubled elephants come to the zoo, China’s panda hunter and pandas end up in San Diego, the morality of SeaWorld’s dolphins
Various Authors 3:49 p.m., Dec. 3
STROLLING ALONG THE BEACH, HOLDING A FLUFFY WHITE CAT, SAN ONOFRE - "It's...disappointing," says Ernst Stavro Blofeld, gazing wistfully at the twin domes of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. "For a minute there, when I first saw those lovely concrete globes, it took me back to the good old days. For a minute there, I thought I could get them back."
Blofeld is referring to the similarity between SONGS and his former hideout on a volcanic island, from which he launched numerous attempts at world conquest. (Those attempts, we know now, were consistently foiled by British secret agent James "007" Bond, one of the great unsung heroes of the Cold War era.) And looking at recently declassified images of the hideout's main hangar, his nostalgia is certainly understandable:
When Blofeld heard that SONGS had been shuttered for over a year, and that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was hesitant to approve the plant's restart - "owing to public safety concerns or some such nonsense" - he put in a bid to buy the plant and convert it to a retro-classic villainous lair. "It had everything we could have wanted," he rhapsodizes. "Coastal location for launching covert submarine missions, warm weather for the maintaining of a bikini-clad bevy of bewitching beauties, and most importantly, that hulking, ominous character that is essential to a good headquarters. Let me assure you - the way developers work these days, finding a spot like that at a reasonable price is harder than rigging the world's financial markets for your own nefarious ends. San Onofre looked like a Godsend."
Alas, it was not to be. Blofeld is a bad guy, the sort who is not above feeding an underperforming minion to his pet shark. But in the eyes of SONGS co-owner SDGE, he isn't quite evil enough. "Anyone can design a spaceship that will swallow other spaceships," said SDGE spokesman Sonny Ovabich. "But that kind of overt wickedness is really little more than a cry for help. Every time he tries to take over the world, he's begging to be stopped. Real villainy requires a little more subtlety. Like charging customers for a generating station that isn't even generating. Or charging customers for fire damage for which we were found liable. SDGE has a legacy of evil to uphold, and we're not about to hand a goldmine like SONGS over to some washed-up mastermind from 30 years ago."