Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Zoo Miami recently suffered a very sad loss. Wesley, a 7-month-old giraffe, suffered a self-induced injury and later was euthanized as a result of his terrible trauma. Despite heroic efforts by zoo veterinarians, Wesley could not be saved.

The calf had been peering into a holding area where another giraffe was getting a routine medical checkup. Wesley wanted to see what was going on and moved his head closer to get a better view. He became wedged between two poles. His panicked efforts to free himself led to catastrophe. He fell backward, suffering a devastating spinal cord injury.


The Torah declares, “Lo ta’amod al dam re’echa,” – “Do not stand idly by your neighbor’s blood.” The call is an obligation to help out in times of danger. There is no obligation, however, to be a yenta.

We all know of stories of individuals who have foisted themselves into the lives of others with good intentions and dreadful results. Sometimes they only make the situation worse. Sometimes they themselves wind up needing to be saved.

Perhaps the subject was best described by author Shel Silverstein in his poem “Helping”:

“…And some kind of help is the kind of help
That helping’s all about
And some kind of help is the kind of help
We all can do without.”

Wesley was curious. It was his downfall. Giraffes are not the only creatures to be snoopy. Humans have been known to stick their heads and noses into business that is none of their concern. Sometimes the results of their prying can end in disaster.


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Shelley Benveniste is South Florida editor of The Jewish Press.