Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Zhu Zhu Pets endangered this holiday season

11

November

Mom_zhuzhupets  No doubt you’ve heard that the American black bear and the loggerhead sea turtle are endangered species. But I’d like to introduce you to one that perhaps you weren’t aware of yet: Hamsterous Artificialious. Or, by its common name, the Zhu Zhu Pet -- the hottest toy of 2009. If you don't believe me, check out what these toy experts had to say.

The Zhu Zhu pet is a battery-operated hamster that crawls through an elaborate and colorful tunnel system or rolls around in a plastic ball. It is covered in synthetic fur, and it is soft, cuddly and wonderfully playful. But best of all for parents is that it is a plastic and synthetic object that neither eats nor defecates like a real, living, breathing, pungent wood shavings hamster. And it retails for only $9.99.

Although its native habitat -- the vast tundra of shelves at Toys R Us, Target and online retailers -- has not been threatened in any way, the Zhu Zhu remains oddly absent during this retail season. When I approached what I thought was the nesting Zhu behind a blind of Hannah Montana wigs, I found the end cap empty -- only a sign in the place where the backup AA batteries should have been.

LIMIT 4 ZHU ZHU PETS PER CUSTOMER PER DAY.

This confused me since there wasn’t a single one there, let alone my allotted four. I asked a store employee who amidst his laughter told me there was a truck coming in on Saturday, but no one knew if the Zhu squared would grace it.

So my hunt continued through every retailer in central Florida, the Interwebs and some Chinese restaurants that I really don’t want to talk about. All seemed lost and I was about ready to give up when it suddenly dawned on me -- where are more than half of the animal and plant species on this planet located?

 The Amazon.com.

It is here where I would finally end my search for the near-extinct Zhu Zhu. I excitedly signed in. I drooled at the “if you order in the next sixteen minutes you can have this item by tomorrow!” I was even contemplating becoming a preferred, elite, platinum, triple bonus club rewards member when I saw the price tag delicately poised at the bottom of my virtual shopping cart. There was a 4 in front of the $9.99 that was the advertised price on other sites. My $10 fake hamster was now $50 before tax, shipping, and desperate mother excise fees.

At this point, the Amazon backs out like a Brazilian bartender after last call on Mardi Gras, and a “third party” dealer steps in. Or should I say, “A LIMIT FOUR PER CUSTOMER PER DAY” dealer.

Yes, there is a black market even in the pretend animal trade, and be prepared to pay if you go there.

As of today, all of the online retailers Web sites still show the toy out of stock, but I’ve been assured that more are on the way. My advice to you if you are looking for the near-extinct hamster and want to pay the reasonable retail price rather than the inflated prices on eBay or Amazon? Keep your eyes on the look out now, and grab one when you see one. Sign up for the email alerts for when the item becomes available on Target.com, eToys, Walmart.com and Toys R Us.com.

Best of luck on your hamster hunt.

-- Tracey Henry, the Suburban Diva

[Zhu Zhu Pets]

[Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 11:03am]

    

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