VATICAN CITY—After months of failed attempts to coax their sole mating pair into conceiving, officials from the Vatican City Zoo admitted Wednesday that they were unsure whether the facility would ever successfully breed an angel in captivity.
The current effort is reportedly part of an ongoing campaign by the zoo, home to Christendom’s most diverse collection of holy fauna, to increase the world’s angelic population, which has dwindled to fewer than 400 heavenly creatures in the wild.
“No systematic attempt to breed winged celestial beings outside their natural habitat in everlasting paradise has ever succeeded, so this is a daunting task,” said the zoo’s director Cardinal Lorenzo Menichelli, who explained that creating the ideal conditions for procreative intercourse would require theobiologists to learn more about angel fertility cycles and courtship rituals. “While there have been occasional signs of a potential pregnancy, such as elevated hormone levels or a dilated halo, each has unfortunately turned out to be a false alarm.”
“Nevertheless, we still hope that one day we will welcome a new baby angel into our zoo’s Heavenly Messenger Pavilion,” he added.
According to sources within the Holy See, zoo staff built an approximation of the angels’ natural habitat to facilitate breeding, installing sidewalks paved with gold throughout their concrete enclosure and a $300,000 motion-activated mist system to simulate clouds. Reports also confirmed that a special, secluded cage has been set up as far away as possible from the exhibit’s main viewing platform, which is often crowded with photo-snapping bishops and loud Sunday school children known to discourage angelic coition.
However, despite the zoo’s best efforts, Menichelli said the male and female angels seldom show interest in each other, and on the rare occasions they do, the pair often becomes spooked prior to the act of copulation by sounds coming from the Leviathan and Behemoth cages in the nearby Hall of Beasts. The cardinal added that the problem is compounded by the fact that female angels are only in heat once every jubilee year.
“We’ve tried numerous techniques to stimulate their libidinal urges—chanting devotional hymns, bestowing our blessings upon their loins, and bathing them in the shimmering light of God’s pure grace,” said Menichelli, adding that the zoo had recently ordered several gallons of highly pungent angel testosterone, which is known to induce estrus in reluctant females. “We even showed them video clips of other angels mating to activate their instinctual reproductive cues, but they refused to watch it and then began anxiously making the sign of the cross.”
“Our experience has been quite different with the Nephilim, which breed like rabbits,” he
continued, noting that the biblical race of giants had come a long way since the 19th century, when they were targeted by trophy hunters and nearly went extinct. “If we didn’t keep them isolated, we’d have a new litter every week.”
Records indicate the zoo’s latest angelic breeding project follows a series of botched efforts dating back to the early 1970s. In a widely publicized 1984 incident, an attempt to mate two seraphim on loan from the Lourdes Zoo and Aquarium failed when the much larger and more aggressive male shouted, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; the whole Earth is full of His glory!” and proceeded to tear the wings off the female, setting the program back by more than a decade.
“Angel husbandry is a difficult process, but we’re not giving up,” Menichelli said. “These magnificent creatures are the most popular attraction at the zoo, apart from the Demon Pit and the Botanical Garden of Eden, and we’re committed to making it something that visitors to the Vatican can enjoy from now until the Second Coming.”
Menichelli confirmed the zoo would try artificial insemination next, just as soon as it received the Church’s permission to collect a sample.