Continues from yesterday:
But, it was nice weather, and anything was better than being stuck in a classroom. Luke decided he might as well try to make the best of it.
Mrs Tebbut pointed at two big tigers.
“What can you tell me about the tigers in this enclosure?” she asked the group.
Luke was shocked. He put up his hand.
“Are they criminals?” he suggested.
“Don’t be silly Luke, of course they’re not criminals.”
“Well it don’t seem fair to put innocent animals in prison.”
“Can anyone give me a sensible answer?”
Simon Butler read aloud from the board on the fence.
“They’re Bengal tigers; well known for their power and strength; one of the most feared predators in nature. In the wild they scent mark large areas of up to 100 square kilometres to keep their rivals away.”
“Very good Simon,” Mrs Tebbut smiled.
Luke didn’t think there was much to smile about.
“The wild ones live in massive places, prob’ly bigger ‘n Bournemouth, and this cage is smaller ‘n my back garden. No wonder they look fed up,” he thought.
They moved on. Luke lagged behind with diminishing enthusiasm. Mrs Tebbut drew everyone’s attention to another enclosure.
“Can anyone tell me what these guys are?”
“They’re penguins,” said Anna.
“That’s right. Does anyone know what type?”
“They’re bored penguins.” He knew the moment he said it that he’d said it too loud.
“Luke Walker! I am tired of your attitude! If you can’t enter into the spirit of things with a smile on your face and some genuine effort then kindly do not participate at all.”
That was fine by Luke.
“Why do teachers ask you what you think if all they really want you to tell ’em is what they think?” he grumbled to himself.
When Mrs Tebbut was distracted by Katia getting a splinter, Luke decided to take her at her word and ‘not participate at all’. He was better off on his own anyway. He wandered around the zoo, looking at the animals and feeling sorry for them.
“Don’t seem right to lock animals up when they ‘aven’t done nothin’. It’s like the Sheriff of Nottin’am all over again.”
He noticed an empty bench in front of a line of trees, away from the busier zoo paths, and decided to have a sit down.
“It’s a shame about zoos,” he thought, disappointed.
While he sat there he looked around. Over his left shoulder, behind the trees, he saw another enclosure. It was off the beaten track and smaller than the others. It was concrete and contained nothing of beauty or interest except its occupant. There stood the biggest, most breath-taking, awe-inspiring individual Luke had ever encountered. An elephant. All on her own.
“All on your own,” Luke sympathised, as he made his way to her, “another damson in distress.”
He climbed up on the fence so that he could talk to her over the top of it and she walked towards him to get a closer look.
“I’m on me own too,” he continued, “not stayin’ with the group if I’m not wanted!”
Then he had an idea.
“Would you like to come out an’ play with me?”
The elephant seemed interested so he went on.
“Ok, listen, we’ll have to be a bit sneaky. You wait here while I find a key; then I’ll open this gate and you can slip out before anyone sees.”
It was a brilliant plan!
Continues tomorrow, but if you can’t wait you can read the whole story here now 😀
and the first eight chapters are also available in paperback 🙂