He was no older than five when he first went to the city zoo. He was proud to be alone with his oldest brother and excited to have him all to himself. The day was overcast and humid and he was thirsty. The vanilla ice cream from the funny clown vendor hadn’t helped and his sticky hands were irritating him.
His brother decided to sit on the grass in the shade for a bit. He was happy to sit down as the buckles on his sandals were hurting his feet.
They had seen the big lion, the stroppy tiger and some funny looking birds. His brother asked him which was his favorite. He had no favorite, he said. He liked them all. He sensed this was the wrong answer as his brother looked bored and checked his watch. “The monkeys! Can we see the monkeys?”, he asked.
They got up and he immediately regretted his enthusiasm. But it was too late as his brother was pulling him towards the cages at the far end.
It was then that he saw the chimpanzee. It was holding hands with a man wearing zookeeper’s overalls. He thought how funny it was for a chimpanzee to be out of a cage and wondering around the zoo, just like him. His brother was walking ahead now as he came face to face with the chimpanzee, which suddenly punched him in the stomach. “Why did the chimpanzee do that?”, he wondered as he looked it in the eye.
“What do you mean the big monkey hit you?”, his brother asked him over and over again. “It’s not good to lie”, he was told when he got home. No one believed him, but he didn’t care. He was happy to wash his hands and take off the sandals.
In years to come, chimpanzees became his favorite animals. He understood how awful it must be to be imprisoned in a zoo for life.