Love at the zoo

Helen Lemus

“Animals should be left in the wild. They ‘re unpredictable and dangerous. They have no regard for human life. If we ever stopped feeding them, they would feed on us,” said Dr. Kinney.

“Not Kiko. That koala knows love,” replied Dr. Daruwala. “She would never hurt us or turn on us.”

“Animals know nothing of love. That koala would leave the sanctuary the minute that the food stopped coming at regular times,” replied the older man.

Dr. Daruwala watched Kiko climb her tree in search of the perfect leaves. She was so cute. The doctor knew that Dr. Kinney spoke some of the truth. As a koala , Kiko was a wild animal and she could not be petted or held. She was not a stuffed teddy bear and she had long claws that could tear into an enemy’s skin. But, Dr. Daruwala had seen Kiko treat a new handler with gentleness and since then, the doctor had thought highly of the bear.

Kiko climbed on the branch. As a koala, her day consisted mostly of eating, sleeping and washing up. Today, her human was acting different. There were wet spots on her face that tastes funny when Kiko had licked them off.

Her human had hugged her and fed her the special little cubes of nut that she liked so much. Then, she had gone.

Today, Kiko came out from the higher branches of the eucalyptus tree to see her human, but there was no one there. The door to the home had been opened. Kiko thought about leaving. She went back to the higher branches and ate some breakfast. She was thirsty, but that was yesterday’s water, and there was dust in it. In the evening, Kiko shipped and squeaked, but no one came.

Today, morning brought rain. No one had called her into the sanctuary. Kiko was sleeping when large drops of rain started pelting her. She shrieked in shock. Where was her human, dear Mani? She cried. After a while, she stopped and climbed down walking into her shelter. She sat, whipped and licked the water off her fur. Where was her human?

Today, she heard a grunt outside of her shelter in the early morning before the sun came up. It was another koala. He was actually outside his home.

“What are you doing out there?” she asked.

“You better get out here, too,” he said. “They have left us and soon we will starve.”

“Oh, yeah? Where’s your water?” he asked. He turned up his nose at her wrinkling his lips into a frown that made him look like he had just eaten a sour grape and turning, he ambled away from her.

She retreated to the shelter to wait for dawn. She couldn’t wait. Maybe Mani would arrive that day. She climbed the tree. She found a grey creature there. It was pointy faced and hissed. Kiko swapped at it with her large claws and it had hissed again and slipped away.
Kiko licked the dew off of the leaves to drink. She looked at her tree. The leaves were getting scarce. She yipped all day. Where was her human? Could that meanie have been right? Could they have gone and left? What if she was hurt? Should Kiko go and look for her? If she left and her human came back, she would find her missing.

Days passed and the leaves were running out in her tree. Finally, they ran out and still Kiko waited. Her human would come.

One day, Kiko was eating bark early in the morning and she heard it. It was the sound of footsteps. It was Mani. She ripped and hugged her human. Mani was happy, but concerned about Kiko eating bark. Dr. Kinney smiled.

“You see? Kiko knows love,” said Dr. Daruwala.

“For once, I am happy to be proved wrong,” replied the older man.

“I guess you are familiar with love also, doctor.”</p>


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