Chapter 41 - Zoo
Five Days Later
Grant, Saraiya, and Kale sprawled out in the car while Rhett drove. They pulled into a massive parking lot, balloons of red and blue tangled between iron gates erected before the arena of animals. A wooden sign that read “The Montria Zoo” stood in front of the gate. A line of people stretched out from the entrance.
“I wonder what they all added… I remember they said they were going to add Buffalos at one point when I worked here,” Saraiya said as she got out of the back seat.
“Buffalos? Really? They haven’t added them yet? There are so many around Tonim,” Grant said as he hopped out of the car. The pavement could have used renovation too, small potholes scattered here and there.
The last time he had been to the zoo was with Elijah and his parents back in Tonim. He remembered Elijah taking off his hat and resting it atop the goat enclosure and having to fight with the goat to get his hat back. Elijah cried, while Grant laughed and was scolded.
“I’ve actually never been here before,” Kale stared through the gates with awe filled eyes. “I’ve heard they have cats, maybe I can make friends...”
“Yeah, they do. And good luck with that.” Saraiya said, smirking and shaking her head.
They walked towards the entrance and spotted Natch and his little sister waiting for them. She stood as tall as Natch’s waist and seemed intimidated by them.
“Hey guys! Glad you all could make it. This is my sister Linn.”
She gave a shy wave and a timid hello. Everyone exchanged greetings and mingled into the line of people. Fliers were plastered all over the entrance booth displaying many of the attractions.
As they passed through the entrance underpass, everyone grabbed a bag of animal food. Continuing forward. they were met with a chain link fence to their right with flamingos, and a crocodile habitat on their left.
Kale jogged up to the crocodile area and peered out over the cement wall, looking at their habitat below.
“So far nothing seems different in here from their renovation,” Saraiya said.
“My friends said they got more cute animals here!” Linn said.
Saraiya stepped forward and bent down a bit. “What’s your favorite animal?”
“I like the penguins!”
“Yeah they are fun to watch swim aren’t they?” Saraiya smiled.
Grant remembered the penguins back in Tonim’s zoo, stuck in such a small enclosure with quite a few of them waddling around. A lot of exhibits at that zoo depressed him more than excited him.
Being trapped, watching people live their lives on the outside, mocking you for being stuck with nowhere to go. Throwing food in, egging you on to keep living even though nothing would change. What a truly depressing life.
If only the animals were giving the opportunity Grant was given. He had finally escaped, perhaps someday these animals could get that feeling too.
From the few steps within this establishment, Grant already had a better feeling about the well being of these animals compared to the ones in Tonim though. Long distances of nature spread behind every barrier where animals roamed.
“What is your friend doing over there?” Linn asked.
Kale had been mumbling to himself above the crocodiles as if trying to communicate with them. He turned around and noticed everyone was watching him. “Oh, sorry! You know, I love animals…” The top part of his face turned red as his eyes resembled a smile.
“He’s funny Natch!” Linn said and walked over by Kale. “What are you telling them?”
“Oh hahah, I am just asking how their days are…”
“You can understand them?!”
“I wish I could, but no I can’t… Maybe if it was a cat I could though.”
Linn came running back over. “We need to find the cats! Kale says he can maybe talk to them!”
They all shook their heads and laughed.
“We’ll see them eventually, Linn,” Natch said.
They followed the black concrete path down until it branched off in three directions. A building stood tall amid the paths with people flowing in and out. The building exterior looked immaculate.
“Oh, this is new. Mind if we take a look?” Saraiya asked.
“Let’s check it out,” Rhett said as he acknowledged the tortoise statues surrounding the building.
“Hey, this reminds me of your trailer,” Grant said. “Obviously they don’t compare to your sculptures though.”
Rhett smirked. “Well thanks, although these are made with a way better quality than mine.” Rhett looked at the sign by the door. “Oh neat, this building is actually dedicated to Kandorr wildlife. Maybe I’ll feel right at home.”
The interior opened up to a wide room. Chatter and squealing bounced off the glass barriers that were fixed onto walls. Behind the barriers rested smaller exhibits, mostly small reptiles and amphibians.
“Ohhh, this is nice,” Sariaya said as she pulled out her notebook. “There are even seats and tables! If only this were here when I worked here. Would have been a decent place to take a break, although maybe it is a bit too noisy.”
“Oh, it looks like there is a food stand further down!” Rhett said.
“Woow, look at these pretty frogs Natch!” Linn said.
Rhett turned his head. “Oh yeah, those little guys. We had some that wouldn’t leave us alone, they kept turning up everywhere around our house. Even once, one hopped out from the toilet.”
“That sounds terrifying,” Natch said with concern while one of his eyes looked like it twitched. “Aren’t they poisonous too...?”
“Yeah, that kind of made it fun though! It was a real rush when you spotted one, but I’m thankful for not having to worry about that in Nhaja hahah.”
Grant walked along the exhibits, until he came across the entrance to another room labeled, “Guardians of Kandorr.” Lights were fixed into the corners of the ceiling shining down like spotlights during a royal event.
“Hey Rhett, I think they have some Kandorr Tortoises down this way.” Grant pointed.
“Oh really?” Rhett said, as his face resembled one of excitement and slight trepidation.
Grant didn’t know too much about Kandorr culture, but it was obvious that tortoises were really important to him. In what way? Grant didn’t know.
Rhett took the first step down the hall as everyone followed.