The common chonga (chongibiti foshibiti), once ubiquitous throughout Greater Miami, has become an increasingly rare sight in the wild.
“By George, they were everywhere!” declared famed chongologist Bradley Percival Moresby IV, his eyes bulging in excitement as he twirled his handlebar mustache and adjusted his monocle. “You’d walk outside and practically trip over them! Brazilian jeans, whale tails, gelled hair, and jersey dresses from horizon to horizon! The common misconception that their population was centered in Hialeah was complete balderdash! Coral Gables, Doral, Pinecrest, Coconut Grove, Kendall, chongas everywhere! Everywhere!”
Closely related to the Californian chola (cholibiti actibiti) and the New Jersian guidette (guidibiti in da faciliti), South Florida’s native chonga population crashed after 2013.
“We believe habitat loss was largely to blame,” said Bill Moore, President and CEO of the Zoo Miami Foundation, as he stood before the newly constructed chonga enclosure. “With the failure of so many Traffic and U.S. Tops stores, they simply had nowhere to go. Also, invasive boa constrictors probably played a role. You can’t outrun a 15-foot snake in Chinese slippers.”
Susana de la Fuente, the zookeeper assigned to the chongas, insists they will be well cared for. “They have every amenity they could want. Tego Calderón’s ‘Amigo Mío’ plays on repeat over the speakers, except when we switch to the Power Love Hour. Fresh supplies of Air Force Ones, sequin belts, and lip liner are delivered every other week. And, they’re on a strict Mall of the Americas food court diet.”
Asked if she could foresee the day chongas would be released back into the wild, de la Fuente responded, “Sure. The Yellowstone wolves were reintroduced and now they’re thriving. Plus, we’re sure there are many, many chongas still living in Greater Miami. They’re just in hiding. For now.”
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