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Courageous

I rose under a powder blue sky, body coursing with anticipation. Jelita’s first birthday marked an important milestone for Acarda Zoo. We were unaccustomed to such celebrations, and the occasion of a dreary Monday did little to make it seem auspicious. I changed for the day into my zoo clothes, then moved out into the kitchen, opening the fridge to fetch the birthday ‘cake’.


“Is everything ready to go?”


“Yeah.” I reached in and scooped my hands under the board. “Well, I think so.”


Carefully, I pulled it out. The cake was a sort of porridge, prepared the night before out of primate pellets and non-dairy milk.


“I’ll get the door.”


“Thanks.”


The sooner the cake was devoured by Jelita, the better. Holding the tray flat, I approached the back door, while Mum unlocked it. Behind me I heard buckets clanging. I stepped my thick socks into the gumboots by the back door, which we wore out in the zoo. While Mum held the door, Dad followed behind with additional food. With the cake as the enrichment item, chopped apple and vegetables would bulk up the siamangs’ diet. In the evening they would be fed again.


“I’ll have to update our ZIMS records. One male siamang, two females, zero born within the last twelve months.”


We approached the island, the one on the south side, unlocking the gate in the barrier which separated visitors from the moat. Given the siamangs had been kept in their indoor quarters overnight, we were able to enter, without contacting the dangerous animals. Otherwise, we would have needed to account for all three animals, then close the slide or lure them back in. As I stepped down onto the sunken passageway, my ankle rolled.


“Oh dear.”


“You right?”


Mum reached out and took my hand, helping me up.


“We do need to do something about this. It’s a safety hazard.”


“You’re right. We’ll sort it.”


When I opened the door, Jelita was clinging to her mother’s chest, still having a drink of boob. The May morning did little to urge the siamangs to want to venture outside, but Medan meandered to the slide. Therefore, we opted for the birthday celebration to take place in the outdoor habitat. I worried this would be a fizzer, nonetheless. I kept the thought to myself as I followed Mum out through the door and placed down the cake. Dad surveyed the habitat, to ensure that nothing within the foliage or climbing structure had been damaged. I photographed the cake, the flash automatically triggering. We scattered additional food for the adults, then retreated. Once we were out of the animals’ space, Dad lifted the slide, allowing Medan to swing out into his exhibit, with his mate and daughter not far behind him. I was unsure how Jelita would respond to cake. Medan toddled through the autumn leaves, noticing something new and different. He scooped his hands through. Medan tenderly fed the birthday cake to Georgia, demonstrating the ultimate act of trust between primates. Jelita caught the occasional slurp of the treat. Swinging through their home, Medan and Georgia commenced a territory call, like they did most mornings, their throat sacs puffed out. I snapped another photo, then wiped my cheeks, wishing Nanek could see this in person, wanting all the more for Kakek to be there with us, even on a chilly Tasmanian morning. After texting the pics to Tallulah, I posted them to our social media pages for the zoo, with a gushing caption. Mum kissed me on the cheek, then we got on with the rest of the tasks we needed to complete to open the zoo. I headed next to the nocturnal house. When I went to feed the tarsiers, Belitung didn’t seem to be in a particularly good mood. It wasn’t my place to push it, so I made sure that he had food, then got out as soon as possible. I completed the rest of my run around the eastern section of the food, save for the dholes, which were Mum and Dad’s responsibility. I listened to the whistle of the morning wind through the growing peppercorn tree, planted in honour of Sungai Willow. When I was near it, I could feel his spirit. Doing the maths, he would have been about six months old, had he been born. What would he be like? Would he even be a brother, like we’d imagined? Maybe one day I would know. The male Tasmanian Devil will finally be arriving shortly, to habituate the outdoor area. As I sat down for my morning coffee, I finally allowed myself to breathe out.


“Have you sorted out the Facebook page yet?”


“Oh, I’ve been meaning to do that, sorry.” I reached for my phone. “I’ll sort it out right now.”


Going onto Facebook, I noticed a friend request from Zach, from my class last year. I had thought that we were already friends, but the profile was clearly his. Tapping the screen, I accepted the request. Mum returned.


“Jumilah, there’s someone here who would like to speak with you.”


I followed her out to the carpark. The man’s face I recognised as one of the animal liberationists.


“Oh, God, I thought we had this settled.”


I ran a hand through my hair, while Mum offered me a glare out of the side of her eye. To placate them both, I plastered on a smile. I couldn’t recall his name.


“What would you like to speak about?” I requested.


I knew that I spoke with a tone which Mum’s patience wouldn’t appreciate, but it had been almost five months.


“You posted this morning about your young siamang’s first birthday.”


“Yes, we did,” I confirmed. “We’re very pleased to have reached this milestone.”


“Well, I’m glad that you’re happy about that. One year down, a lifetime of misery in captivity to go.”


“Look, please don’t talk to my daughter like that.”


His piercing gaze turned to Mum. My boots felt heavy on the dusty ground of the carpark. I wondered if others had wisdom to add. My throat felt a little dry.


“She’s an adult, I’m sure she can fight her own battles.”


“Yes, I can,” I assured, undaunted by the smartphone camera in my face.


Dad swanned in, perhaps wondering what all the fuss was about. I clocked him with my gaze, then he recognised whom we were speaking with.


“I’ll leave you to it,” Dad declared.


It would have been nice if he’d stayed and stood up for us.


“Look, you’re welcome to come into the zoo. Free entry.”


I glanced down.


“Well, I think we’re both dissatisfied now, thank you.”


He got back into his car. I waved goodbye, bearing a sarcastic smile. Even the electric car’s tyres created puffs of dust. My view was that we held more in common than we were opposed, but I recognised my position was not shared. By the time I returned to the zoo grounds, the clock had struck eleven. Nine in the morning in Western Australia, it was within the realm that the jury would return. I’d long missed the bird TAG meeting. It would have been ideal to attend. I went to the toilet at the zoo’s toilet block, located on the other side of the nocturnal house from our home. While sitting on the toilet I made sure to take a deep breath, to calm myself down after an up-and-down morning. If the rest of the morning could pass without incident, that would be a win. I indulged in an early afternoon coffee, before sitting down for the primate TAG meeting. While the Zoom call loaded, I checked the agenda. I was supposed to provide further recommendations on whether any siamangs should be exported from the region, or whether I would advise any further transfers amongst Australian and New Zealand zoos. For this I had not adequately prepared myself. All siamang birthday cake and no preparation. Bringing up the population list, I resolved that I would wing it, were any questions sent my way about the breeding program.


“The last birth we had was at Willowbank in New Zealand.”


An unexpected face popped up on my screen.


“Tessa!” I almost screamed her name. “It’s so good to see you.”


“Thank you. I have the energy to work from home for short periods of time.”


“Well, we’ll try to make this worth your while.”


I needed to give a studbook report. Given their focus on southeast Asian fauna, it did strike me as a little surprising that Perth Zoo did not hold siamang, given that all of the other state zoological societies did so, represented by Adelaide, Melbourne and Taronga Western Plains.


“Tessa, do you have any questions?”


“Yes, I do, about our collection,” she responded. “You know, it’s less than ideal to house a lone siamang.”


“I’m sorry, I thought that you--.”


On my screen, I darted from one tab to the other.


“I was just thinking about the next breeding pair. That’s not an urgent matter, we don’t have to worry about breeding plans just yet.”


I sighed, never enjoying revealing information which could potentially have negative implications for all of us.


“Look, I should tell you, we did have a visit from our local animal liberationist friends this morning. It’s possible that there will be footage online--.”


“Look, we do all have to work together. If you’re worried that you’re in any kind of legal trouble--.”


“I’m not worried about that.”


“Well, if you’re not worried, then we’re not worried.”


“Is there anything else which you’d like to add about the siamang program, Jumilah?” Christine wanted to know.


“Only just that Hamilton’s young female has relatives who are breeding currently.”


“That’s true. I think we can leave it there. Within the orangutan program, it’s important to assure that all founders are represented.”


“Which is an added challenge within our population, considering that there is such an overrepresentation of the Perth animals.”


“Potentially, we will be looking to downsize our colony with the new exhibit,” Jimmy raised, “but, at the same time, we want to make sure that all our females can breed. Teliti, for instance, is her mother’s only reproductively viable descendent in the captive population. Therefore, it wouldn’t be advised to miss out on that opportunity to breed from her.”


“It would be ideal for her to witness raising another infant.”


“I agree.”


Therefore, the decision was made that Perth Zoo would try to give Teliti as much access as possible to the new infants.


“Alright, let’s move on, gorillas.”


“Yes, let’s.”


“I’m wanting to get the ball rolling with selecting potentials for our exhibit,” Don mentioned, “especially in regard to a silverback.”


“It’s not like there’s a shortage of males in the region. Taronga, Werribee or Orana Park could all provide silverbacks for a new troop.”


“I’m not meaning to speak over or for Des, but I wouldn’t remove a male from the group at Werribee, personally,” Reuben insisted.


“What I’m gathering from this conversation is the need to coordinate with the EEP to import females,” Sam surmised, “or, if not, to attempt to source them from another program.”


“And bring the wrath of the EEP down upon us for breaking ranks and jumping the queue.”


“Last time I checked, Australia’s not actually in Europe,” Sam offered the pertinent reminder.


“There is another option for females, I feel like I should mention,” David raised. “There are four females in the Melbourne troop. One or two of these females could be sent to Adelaide.”


“Honestly, I don’t think that’s preferable,” Reuben admitted. “At the moment at least, all the females get along with our silverback, and we can’t take that for granted.”


“Look, as lovely as it would be, I’m prone to agree,” Don affirmed. “At least wait until after the birth of Nyani’s infant before making decisions.”


“Yes, that’s a good point,” Sam agreed. “The birth of an infant can cause disharmony within a gorilla troop.”


“Or it can bring them together.”


“Either way, I think that we can agree on Don’s point. We have time on our side in making these decisions. Nyani’s reasonably close to giving birth. In late June or early July, we can reconvene and discuss again.”


“Overall, we have a reasonably young regional population. The oldest male is at Werribee and hopefully he’ll still have plenty of years ahead of him. It’s the females who are most likely to leave us within the next few years, and--.”


Sam sighed heavily, attracting our attention.


“Look, there is something I need to tell you. I was going to wait until later, but seeing as we’re already having this conversation, I should let you know. Wendy’s health has been declining and we’re thinking that the decisions will start coming up soon, about whether her time has come.”


“Oh, Sam, I’m so sorry.”


Claire bore a sympathetic expression. I wondered if she, too, was thinking about when Ratu had been put to sleep, not that I’d been there to have to make the decision. Did that make it easier or harder to have to say goodbye?


“Let’s put this one to bed for a moment, shall we?” Sam urged, ever so gently.


We couldn’t disagree with him. A sombre mood had blanketed the meeting. Mal enquired as to the progress of the development of the Congo precinct, including the import of okapi.


“This will be discussed at the ungulate TAG.”


“Hey, I just wanted to raise, I would like to come along.”


“Look, Jumilah, if you’re keen to attend, I wouldn’t object. It’s just a matter of whether or not you think it’s worth your time.”

“Yeah, sure, I’d love to,” I confirmed, albeit in a monotone to ensure I didn’t seem too overly-enthusiastic.


“Fantastic, I’ll send you the link.”


“I mean, we’ll have a lot to talk about this week.”


“Of course you will, with the exciting news.”


It took me a moment to register, that they were referring to the pygmy hippo birth at Melbourne. Hopefully, the young male would have a bright future ahead of him.


“Adelaide Zoo?”


“We’ve had Merah off-exhibit, our female orangutan.”


I dared to dream she might have been pregnant again.


“Bungarribee?”


“Our new lemurs arrived on Friday. Currently, they’re off-display. Hopefully they’ll get acclimatised to the baboons next door.”


“Mate, they will, trust me,” Reuben assured.


I hoped to share his confidence.


“I wanted to add to the conversation about gorillas, if we’ve got a quick minute. We would be more than happy to be involved with an import.”


“I’m not going to tell you what to do--.”


Peter’s facial muscles tensed.


“My view would be that you don’t have room for gorillas within your existing footprint. I know that might not be what you want to hear.”


“No, thank you for your feedback.”


I wondered what other species it might be more feasible for Sydney Zoo to take on.


“Darling Downs Zoo?”


“We’ve had some really happy news. One of our imported female baboons had never gotten pregnant before and we thought that maybe she might not be able to.”


My lips had curved into a smile even before Raffa had mentioned she’d unexpectedly given birth.


“Hamilton Zoo?” Christine urged. “It really is great to have you here.”


“Yeah, thank you, thanks Christine, it’s great to be here. I’ll probably drop off sometime soon, though, so I just thought I’d let you know.”


“Melbourne Zoo?”


“Our newly-constructed exhibit for white-cheeked gibbons is complete. Hopefully by next week, we will have moved the pair over.”


“That’s great,” Jimmy praised. “Remind me, what will become of their current space?”


“We’re going to construct aerial ropes across from the open-air outdoor orang exhibit. Essentially, that will give us an additional space, giving the animals choice of which space they would like to be in, unless we have to separate troop members for welfare reasons. Given our colony has expanded with the import of the females, we want to be able to give them as much room as we can.”


“Would you extend the O-line further into the surrounding rainforest area?”


“Look, it would be awesome, it really would be, but it’s not exactly practical with the space we have. I’m sure our orangutans would love the canopy, but then we’d be fetching them out of Royal Park.”


I giggled, perhaps inappropriately. That would have been a PR nightmare, to say the least.


“Anyway, hopefully they’ll be pretty keen once the ropes are in place. It will give plenty of space to give the growing colony room to move and room to breathe, with five adults now.”


Hopefully they would be followed by a baby, sooner rather than later.


“Is there anything else you’d like to add, Reuben?”


“We took Mapenzi, our pregnant colobus, off-exhibit last Friday for a vet check. Thankfully, everything is fine and she’s been reintegrated with her mate, Zenebe, and her mother, Makena.”


I suspected there would have been some reason, but he didn’t elaborate on that.


“We did separate Makena from the male during that time, just to make sure there wasn’t any unrest.”


“Would you be expecting that he might have done harm to her?”


“We just wouldn’t know. We’ve appreciated being able to keep Makena in with Mapenzi and hopefully she’ll be of benefit in raising the baby.”


That sounded to me like awesome news. I could hear our siamang pair making a territorial call outside. It was a little unusual for them to choose this particular time. I hoped, though, that visitors would be inspired by hearing their beautiful music. We didn’t have a large collection of animals. Therefore, I enjoyed it when those we did have put on a good show for the guests.


“Do you know how many colobus have been born at Melbourne over the years?”


“Sorry, I would just have to check that one--.”


“Actually, I know the answer, if you don’t mind,” Blessing spoke up. “There have been five colobus born at Melbourne Zoo.”


I knew of two of them – Mapenzi and Mkasu. The other three, though, I couldn’t work out. Maybe the young female exported from Monarto was actually born at Melbourne?


“You know, they are omnivores. We’re able to showcase that behaviour during keeper talks. Perhaps you could say it’s a little strange, but it’s nature.”


Curiosity got the better of me, so I logged in, outside of the meeting, and looked up the studbook. It turned out that a female had been stillborn at Melbourne to the female exported from Monarto, as well as two further stillborn offspring to Makena. I felt a little guilty for being glad, but the first stillborn female would have been a subspecific hybrid.


“Well, you know, I can see it from the other perspective. Considering that we eat chickens and cows and sheep--.”


“Alright, I think that’s enough of that,” Reuben interjected.


“Monarto Safari Park?”


“Lani is pregnant, one of our female chimpanzees.”


“That’s great news, Blessing. We’re all thinking of you, hoping that the pregnancy and eventual birth will progress really smoothly.”


“Our vets are closely monitoring her. When Lani had her first offspring, she rejected the baby and the infant died. That was back at Taronga. Hopefully now after a few more years, she will be able to successfully raise the baby.”


“You would expect her to be a good mother. Maybe she could have had more training.”


“Look, it would have been good if we had, back at the start, in an ideal world. Of course, we only learn this as time goes on.”


“You can tell animals’ personalities really early on, at least from my experience. Their names usually have significant meanings.”


“Orana Park?”


“We’ve had one of our male gorillas, Zaire, in round-the-clock veterinary care since Friday.”


“How did that happen?”


“A tree fell into the exhibit. It brought down some of the barrier.”


“Onto the gorilla?”


“Yes,” Mal confirmed. “Our vets had to open his chest. We brought in human doctors as well, a neurologist to ensure that we weren’t damaging his brain in the process of treating him.”


I rose one hand to my mouth in horror.


“It’s not like keeping him sedated at the level we need to so that we can work with him safely is a long-term solution, either. We’re essentially keeping him in something close to a induced coma while the treatment continues.”


“So, how viable is that?”


Gilham was the one to ask the question, whereas I didn’t want to look. I felt sick to my stomach, which wasn’t helped by Mum batch-cooking in the other room.


“Tomorrow is a new day. Who knows what that will bring?”


None of us could be sure.


“Perth Zoo?”


“We’ve moved some of our ring-tailed lemurs. There’s a group of boys now by the African Savannah.”


“Is that just a temporary move?” Reuben wanted to know.


“Yes, yes it is,” Jimmy confirmed. “Down the track, that enclosure will be demolished.”


“The construction will hopefully commence as soon as possible after that.”


“Fantastic. Taronga Zoo?”


“May I ask about your future plans for your Bolivian Squirrel Monkey troop?”


“Look, long-term the plan would be to move them out of that exhibit. I’m not sure when, exactly.”


“Hey, sorry, I do have some news for this week,” I spoke up. “During the week, we found out that our female white-handed gibbon, Mawar, is pregnant.”


Faces stared blankly back at me.


“That’s great news, Jumilah, thanks for telling us,” Claire eventually chimed in.


“Look, I appreciate that we’ll need to discuss this later.”


“Yes.”


Once the meeting concluded, I headed out into the zoo to locate Mum and Dad, to discuss the next steps with them regarding the bus stop out the front. On the way, a woman accosted me, appearing distressed.


“My son, Xavier, he was here five seconds ago, and now I can’t find him.”


“Alright, what does he look like?”


I reached for my radio, flashing back to the missing little boy at Melbourne Zoo.


“Jumilah to all radios, we have a child missing.”


“He’s four years old, brown hair, short brown hair, and he was wearing a yellow T-shirt.”


I recounted those details over the radio, then provided our position.


“Alright, thanks. We’ll get looking. He’ll be somewhere, surely.”


Radios on and a plan in place, Mum and I set out. Near the finch aviary, I noticed a child.

“Hello?”


I crouched. He spun around.


“Are you Xavier?” I enquired, and he nodded to confirm his identity.


“Hey, let’s go back to your mum, and she’ll get you an ice cream from the front. What do you think about that?”


“Yeah.”


“Come on.”


I took his hand while I stood. As I turned around, Mum had been right behind me. We returned Xavier back to his grateful mother.


“The lady said I could have an ice cream.”


Xavier departed with his mother. My own turned to me.


“You can’t just promise things to a child,” Mum told me, “especially someone else’s child.”


“Look, I didn’t mean to cause an international incident,” I assured, raising my palms. “I’m sorry.”


“It’s alright. You weren’t to know. It’s just good you found him. No harm done.”


Luke rushed over.


“Jumilah, there’s a couple doing Titanic moves at the siamangs.”


“What?”


So much for going for a coffee. Last thing I wanted was to compromise the welfare of the animals. I turned around, watching a woman’s blonde hair fluttering in the breeze. She seemed to have climbed up onto the barrier surrounding the moat, knees resting on the metal information sign. The diamond ring on her finger screamed at me as it glinted in the sun.


“Look, I’m sorry to say you have to get down from there.”


“Oh, come on,” the fiancé complained.


“I’m sorry, it’s a health hazard,” I outlined, and the woman climbed down.


She turned around and I believed that she got the message.


“Well, enjoy the rest of your day,” I told them, choosing harmony instead of truth, as the man was already kissing his fiancee’s hairline.


“I’m so sorry about this one.”


“Goodbye,” he farewelled.


I returned to the house. The guy had reminded me of Kyle, only with longer hair, like a Disney prince. I knew I had admin work to do, to finally update the studbook like I’d been promising all day. As Mum’s laptop had replaced mine on the desk, I opened the browser. Her inbox loaded. I noticed a grant application at the top of the list. Mum walked into the room.


“Hey, what’s the deal with this?”


My heart thumped, stomach twisting.


“It’s a grant application,” Mum explained.


“I can see that.”


“It’s an incredibly difficult decision to make, but I think it’s the right one.”


I flicked my gaze back to the email, which Mum noticed. It was tempting to look for a cash hit, which would make the zoo more financially sustainable.


“Well, she said it’s us, or a game park in Kalgoorlie. They’re not part of ZAA, apparently--.”


“And out of sight, out of mind, but I would rather we got the money,” I insisted to Mum. “We could definitely find a use for that money. I certainly don’t want to be greedy, but--.”


“You would like me to tell Roz we’re going to apply for the grant.”


I nodded.


“Yes, I would.”


“Alright, I will.”


“Thank you,” I responded, then yawned.


“Is there something else bothering you?”


“Oh, I can’t get onto Isobel. She didn’t come to the TAG meeting today.” I shrugged my shoulders. “Don was there, though, so it’s not much of a surprise. It is usually his job.”


I scratched the back of my neck.


“I’m sure she’s fine. She might actually be having a day off for a change.”


“That would be nice.”


I scratched my eyebrow. While I didn’t necessarily mean myself, I understood why it might have come across that way.


“Are we going to have Padang soto for dinner?”


“Well, yes, that’s the plan. Unless you would like something else.”


I smiled.


“Of course not.”


I grasped my phone. It vibrated with a call. Isobel’s name emblazoned across the top of my screen caused me to breathe a sigh of relief. I answered the call quickly. While it was more likely that nothing was wrong, I knew that she was preparing for Adelaide to be able to open a gorilla exhibit by the end of the year.


“It’s really good to talk to you.”


“Oh, I’m sorry, it’s been a hectic day.” Isobel grunted. “I’m just taking off my shoes. I actually had the day off today, though, allegedly.”


I didn’t want to ask what had happened. It didn’t seem to be my place.


“How are your orangutans going?” I asked instead.


“We have ups and downs with Merah, but mostly, she’s alright,” Isobel explained. “It’s good to have a bit of consistency.”


“Are you still planning on breeding?”


“Oh, trust me, we always have a breeding recommendation. It’s Perth where they were struggling for them for many years. I gather they didn’t want to oversaturate the market.”


“Fair enough.”


I wasn’t sure whether to mention the grant application. It was probably best to keep it in-house, until we knew more.


“It’s not for me to tell you what to do. If you’d rather Sumatrans, then indicate accordingly. Perth have just bred twice and they’ll be starting construction soon, won’t they? That’s what I heard.”


“That’s the plan.”


I felt a little unsteady on my feet.


“There aren’t that many hybrids left. We want them to have the best lives possible while they’re still with us, but soon they’ll be all gone. We’ll have more spaces then.”


It was an uncomfortable reality to deal with. I felt a little sick to my stomach, although maybe the grant would allow us to take on some of the hybrid orangutans. To distract myself, I told Isobel about the birthday celebrations we’d held for Jelita, because I knew she would be keen to find out. She had also been watching when she was born.


“Oh, I miss her, I do.”


I texted Isobel through the photos, feeling a pang of guilt.


“She’s going well, I promise.”


I still hadn’t updated the studbook. I’d get to that eventually.


“My advice, honestly, would be don’t get too caught up with things.”


“Yeah, that’s fair.”


Both of us needed to get on with our evenings.


“Goodnight.”


We ended the call. I sat down at my computer. While it loaded, I flicked through my phone, monitoring the notifications from my morning post. Tallulah had love-reacted to the images. I couldn’t bring a storm upon her.


“I’ve just been on the phone with a representative of the Mulholland Family Trust.”


“So not Roz?”


“She was unavailable.”


“Do you think that we need to have a plan?”


“About what?”


“This grant. I really think we should go for it, Mum. You might think differently, and that’s fine, but it’s a way of making us more financially secure. We can focus more on the work which actually needs doing if we didn’t have to worry about money so much.”


“That’s just what I was thinking.”


“If we wanted to bring in more South American species, we could. It’s just the beginning.”


I knew from Mum’s expression that I wasn’t telling her anything she didn’t know. Thankfully, she was a kind and patient woman. I rested against Mum’s body.


“I’ve got so much work to do,” I complained.


“What sort of stuff?”


“Mostly TAG stuff, with the siamangs--.”


“Is it too much work, being species coordinator?”


“Oh, no, it’s not, not really. I’m grateful for the opportunity.”


“Being grateful and it being a good fit are not the same thing.”


“I know, I know,” I assured, “but I don’t want to stop.”


Mum kissed me on the head. I got to work. As well as our update, there was the sad report of a death which I needed to record. In the end-of-year report, then the elderly male would be included in the studbook for the final time. Mum left, then returned to the room again shortly after.


“There’s something I need to talk with you about.”


Truth be told, I felt pulled in multiple directions. I thought of King Solomon, and the first time I’d heard of the story of splitting the baby. I was a little girl at church, on a Sunday morning.


“Oh, there’s something else I need to tell you.”


Mum approached with her laptop in her hands, glasses balanced on the bridge of her nose.


“It’s a tax thing,” she explained. “We need to make sure that the documents are filed.”


“Yeah, but not until July.”


“That’s only two months away,” Mum reminded, so I promised her that I would look into it and make sure that it was done.


The administrative side of things was a chore, but a necessary one, to keep the place in good standing. I appropriately investigated what we would need to file in time, and set up a reminder on my computer. With my work complete for now, I flicked off the light. I waded through the darkened house and off to bed, knowing the morning would holler soon enough.


 

Jumilah Fioray is a recent high school graduate from lutruwita, Tasmania. Her parents, Catherine and Adriano Fioray, met at the University of Melbourne in the 1990s and returned to Hobart after finishing their degrees, where they raised their daughter and worked in agriculture. Jumilah's passion for conservation reflects her grandparents' work running a sanctuary in Sumatra.


Abbey Sim is the founder of Huldah Media. She is a creative writing, law and theology student who lives on the lands of the Dharug people in Sydney, Australia. Abbey has long had a passion for the weird and the wonderful of stories, sport and zoo animals. 'From the Wild' is her first anthology.


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