The Zookeeper's Tale

My kind of thing [Pic Courtesy: Public Domain Photos]

Nowadays, in social gatherings, there has been a change in how we introduce ourselves to friends and folks. A few years ago, it used to be about our studies and about colleges and about the places where we belong to, and now, the overtly formal nuances of telling others our names and addresses remain as firm as the rigid etiquettes of a social animal, but basically, the interrogative sentences have found new vocabularies. Perhaps it’s the age factor that has brought about this uninteresting revolution of new conversation. People would simply ask me, “What do you do for living?” — and not anymore I have to tell the name of the universities in acronym like MU and DU and PU these days — so I would usually retort in my ever deadening tone, “Man, I work in a zoo.” “Work in a what?!”

The Universal Zoological Garden. That’s where I work, earning my bread and butter, while learning it don’t always take to be a human to be an animal. It always stuck me that we are just comparatively better than the beasts, you know, in this pale-blue-dot existence. Let’s not take the modesty completely out of us, anyway. Again, many people have been astonished, not surprisingly though, with the kind of answer I gave them about my job. Still I love being a zookeeper. No frills, just the cheap thrills plus the satisfaction of doing what I love: serving the animals. No emails nor Skype messages nor conference calls nor Excelsheets to maintain production reports. It’s too ordinary a job, this zookeeping thing some people have told me. It was in fact amusing when they solaced with me, as if they have seen the supposedly wearisome zoo in the mundaneness of our society where we find animality in abundance.

It’s quite a feeling to be so close with the animals. You are with a different species, so far from our human bloodline in a sense, yet so close to our heart. And you simply cannot ignore the bio-evolutionary fraternity. Sometimes it’s cruel to note how natural creation have made possible for all of us and the animals to live in the wilderness, basking in the glory of evolution, while our care and sympathy have compelled us to keep them in captivity. It is sheer absurd again — our folly knowing no bound, and the human intelligence just being a relative wisdom among ourselves.

With my job, I'm glad I'm away from the daily mess of human cacophonies. It’s been a year gradually, but with this kind of experience for starters, I’ve been given the responsibilities in the light weight section. I look after hares, some birds, and pythons among others. They are too tame, too powerless to give me a sort of Orwellian nightmare; just a couple of weeks ago, one of our seniors in the heavyweight section had to run for his life when a cheetah went berserk after a vet gave it an injection shot for some animal illness.

Moreover, my profile also includes organising and coordinating for Play Days, Roar and Snore and other special programmes that we have occasionally for our visitors. One day, I would love to be the head zookeeper. I know it will be a lot of hard work to graduate from this light weight section to the medium weight section, where we have bigger animals like monkeys and foxes; and hopefully I would have a nice life when I reach the heavyweight’s arena, where it is all about the big things. These passing days, ironically, I see animal farms in each corner of the world, in several societies across the globe, fighting for political things, killing for economics, while all that the real animals inside our sanctuary care for is their daily meal and nothing else. And what do you think? Though I had spent 25 years in the school zoo where we were tamed and herded, so as to get a decent job and take part in the societal-economics affairs. Now I have the source of livelihood — and even if life is more than just the economics — I feel proud to introduce myself as the light weight zookeeper.

Both of them are in the heavy weight section [Pic Courtesy: Public Domain Photos]



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