Trad. Cindy Moon
Now that Bob knew he could talk with birds, he wanted to know if it’s possible to talk with other animals. So, in the morning he got dressed, put on a jacket and galoshes, jumped on a bicycle and went to the zoo.
“Who should I talk to first?”, he asked himself, but by that time he was already standing at the polar bears’ cage.
Although it was a frosty day and the temperature didn’t climb higher than 1 degree Celsius, they dived into a basin of water like it was a tropical pool.
“Excuse me, Mr. Bear, could I ask you something?”
“Do you have food with you?” — the bear asked — “If you don’t, leave me alone. I’m dying of hunger and I just want to eat.”
Well, Bob thought that politeness isn’t a part of their tradition and he simply continued on his way. One thing he already knew, polar bears understood him, and with a sense of happiness, he took the path to other animals.
“Haha, Dear Ms. Elephant, how are you doing?”
The elephant lifted its trunk and trumpeted, “How do you dare ask that? Do you not see that I am to be found in a cage that is too small, in which boredom is the most often occupation?”
“I’m sorry,” — Bob answered — “but you live in a zoo and every day you get food you like and you don’t have to do anything for it. Think sometimes about your colleagues in Africa who have to see about that themselves, with the chance of finding nothing and going hungry for days. Or think about friends in India who have to work hard every day.”
“You pitiable idiot,” — said the elephant — “do you really think that life in jail is better than being free in nature and searching for food? If you think that I have a luxurious life here, why don’t you steal something or take a purse from an old woman so that you can go to prison and experience what that means?”
“But,” — said Bob — “you are educational material for children and adults who come to learn how an elephant looks and how they act in everyday life. In fact, you’re very useful here and people like to look at you.”
“You stupid thing,” — reacted the elephant — “Humans, they already stand in your throat. They don’t show any respect. They all behave like crude capitalists and only exploit us. Friends in India have to work like they are stupid mules, others work in the circus where they have to play the role of clown. What a dishonor to our good name. And terrible is the fate of our brothers and sisters in Africa. Hunters try to hunt us as though we are humans in a war, just to take our ivory teeth.”
“But,”, Bob wanted to say, but then a huge elephant came near. He didn’t just come near, he ran angrily to the edge of the cage.“Sister,” — he cried out — “why are you discussing with a human, don’t you remember that I strictly forbid that? Go away, and you,” — he trumpeted at Bob — “immediately go away or I’ll make so much noise that others will think you did something bad to us.”
Bob, who is a fairly fearful urchin, rapidly left the elephants’ cage and went on his way until he came to the llamas. He looked at them a while and thought that they are certain to be friendlier.
“Hello, Mr. Llama,” Bob said, and he raised his cap and put on his friendliest face. The llama looked at Bob, came slowly to the wire and unexpectedly spit in the face of our friend Bob.
Bob didn’t know what happened to him. He only wanted to talk a little with the strange beast, and look, well that wasn’t pleasant at all. He took a handkerchief and wiped the crud from his face.
What’s happening, dammit, what’s happening? He only wanted to have a nice talk with animals from other countries. It’s not possible, is it, that those immigrants are meaner than the local animals?
His thoughts made him ashamed and Bob almost wanted to slap his own face for what was coming into his head. Maybe every human suffers a latent form of racism, he thought.
With his head low between his shoulders, he directed himself to the exit of the zoo. Because of winter, he couldn’t even greet the flowers. From misery, he helloed the spot where the flowerbeds usually are. “Hello, flowers,” he murmured, and he slowly went to the exit. Oh look, the monkey cages. They’re closest to humans, they’ll surely want to gossip with me.
He watched with pleasure as the monkeys jumped from branch to branch till suddenly one of the group placed himself before Bob and started to pee.
“You damn cretin,” — cried Bob — “aren’t you ashamed to pee toward me? What did I do for you to be so rude?”
“Human, human, go away human, leave us,” yelped several monkeys simultaneously. “But I only want to chat a little,” said Bob. “I didn’t do anything to you, I only want to talk.”
“Talk?” — answered the piss-monkey- “Talk!? We don’t talk with humans. We dislike humans; look I’m showing my butt and if you don’t run off I’ll poop on you.”
“But dammit, what did I do to cause you to act like that?” — was Bob’s question — “I’m a friend and I only want to talk.””Listen,” — said a fairly big monkey — “do you humans not know that we are the anarchists of the beasts? Are you really so simple in the head that you can’t understand? We pee, poop and have sex in front of humans and stupid creatures, you don’t understand that our only goal is that you leave us alone. But oh dear, you stupid cretins, you stand and gape like we’re the national theater. Well, we’re not. We’re wild animals in jail; can you with your limited capabilities, even imagine what that means?
Go and say to all humans that they should come no more to the zoo. Why don’t they view a documentary, which is much more interesting? You could see how we live in nature, where we’re gay and good humored.
Your species acts like capitalists who think that they can possess everything, that they can buy everything. With no respect for the dignity of us animals.”
Bob heard a familiar sound and when he turned, he saw Jeff, the gull.
“Bob, dear Bob,” — cried Jeff — “what are you doing here? Do you have to talk with my friends from faraway lands, who have to adapt to mores and customs of this land? Why do you humans always have to possess? Why do you humans always have to rule and order? Why can’t you humans show respect? How many humans are on the globe? Almost 7 billion, right? You can fight, exploit and humiliate one another, but that isn’t enough. You have to destroy nature and destabilize the ecosystem. Why can’t you be content with what you have? Look around you. Is it really necessary to put animals into cages?
Humans are great about solidarity, but mainly only when it comes to applying evil. You humans have so much work to do to learn how to live together. Orient yourself towards that and liberate the prisoners in this zoo!”
Bob looked at Jeff, looked at the tips of his boots and asked Jeff, “Do you want to fly with me to my house? Maybe being carried by the wind will carry away my shame. I’m sorry.”
And again Bob went with Jeff close to the clouds and they danced a dance of death and regret for what humans do.