you are the zoo

Freshly groomed and fed we sat in the midday sun watching them watch us. None could pass us without looking and we could never understand why. We thought it was because they found something curious about us, but as chimpanzees we rather found them to be curious. They barked their human nonsense at us, apparently expecting that we would somehow acknowledge this in a way that would be meaningful to them, but we could never figure out how to bark like that. No matter how many gestures and various combinations of screams and flips we did, they just barked back and it was frustrating to the point where anyone who had been with us here in this aggravatingly cramped jungle impostor for long just sat at the far end near the feeding door waiting for the next disappointing meal.

And anyhow, didn’t they understand that we preferred to graze as we please?

Yet, one day a small human came to see us, and a few of us have danced about it since, who had such wonder in his eyes you would think he had seen Oeneth herself. The young ones were pleased by this and flipped, screamed and executed their most impressive stunts to acknowledge their sway held over this young observer. He stayed longer than most, and Garmesh was right to feel bad for him. They never let the awestruck ones back in. The ones who really care for our grace and appreciate our uniqueness attempt to take us , or make a scene about the little mock jungle we play on.  This boy seemed to communicate with a couple of us with his eyes.  Surely, he would be banned.

As he walked away I remember screaming that it was wrong. Wrong for us to be here in this punishing miniature of our real home, and wrong that he would be punished for truly understanding that we are not the zoo, you are the zoo. All of you with your weird looking foods and portable water vessels (though by the smell of it that is tainted water). You bark and beep and make stupid looking faces when you see us. You come to gawk at us in our permanent abduction. Barking, beeping. Your sounds are weak and dispassionate when not hostile.

That poor boy. I do hope his wonder goes unseen.  He is one zoo animal we would not mind seeing again.


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August 2008
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