Coffee in hand, I sat down for the Australian mammals TAG meeting, revelling at my zoo administration lifestyle.
“Jumilah, are you all set for the transfer tomorrow?” Cathy checked.
“Yes, yes,” I confirmed, with a grin. “I’m really looking forward to it. Margie’s coming down herself.”
“Oh, that’ll be lovely.”
“Yeah, it will be. Even though I spent most of my time with Nikki, the vet, we got along pretty well.”
“Yes, she’s a good woman,” Cathy confirmed. “She’s helped me a lot.”
She cleared her throat.
“Truth be told, my first workplace was pretty toxic. I needed some solid counselling to deal with that experience.”
“I see a counsellor too,” I admitted, “for my PTSD.”
“Right.” Cathy nodded. “The reason I bring up Margie like that, is that she’s really helped me too.”
The others started to file in, ending our one-on-one conversation. I’d seen a side to Cathy which had never come up before, but I felt grateful for her honesty, and I hoped that I would have the chance to tell her that.
“Thank you all for joining us today,” she began the meeting.
I muted myself and sat back in my chair.
“As a Gubbi Gubbi woman, I acknowledge that we meet today on lands which were never ceded. I’m coming to you from the country of the Kombumerri clan, and I acknowledge their elders past, present and emerging. You’re also welcome to acknowledge country in the Zoom chat if you wish.”
I messaged to acknowledge the murimimina people.
“I’d like to speak about the Lumholtz tree kangaroo program.”
“Kyabram, Healesville and Werribee would all be interested,” Margie stated.
I’m still getting used to Kyabram being the fourth Zoos Victoria campus.
“I would have no objection to expanding the Lumholtz program,” Cathy assured us. “In fact, I think it would be a good thing. We need more captive holders for this species, and we can’t just rely on the Queensland zoos and wildlife parks to take all the captive-bred offspring and the rescues which come in from the wild.”
Julie popped up into the meeting.
“Sorry I’m late,” she apologised, then put herself on mute again.
“That’s alright, Julie,” Cathy assured. “Thank you for joining us. We’ve just been chatting about the Lumholtz program.”
The bags under Julie’s eyes were obvious.
“We let Wasia out into the exhibit today. We still have the baby at home with us, but enough about that. I know we’re not here to talk primates.”
“Let’s move onto the member reports,” Cathy decided. “Acarda Zoo?”
I breathed in.
“Thank you, Cathy.”
I noticed that I’d leaned forward.
“Tomorrow, we’re receiving four female Tasmanian Devils from Healesville Sanctuary.”
“That’s great, Jumilah,” Cathy praised. “Monarto Safari Park?”
“Yes, we’ll be receiving two pairs of Eastern Barred Bandicoots before the end of the year.”
“Nothing for us,” Sam responded.
“Just before we go, our next meeting would be scheduled for the twenty-first--.”
“Let’s skip that one and reconvene in the new year.”
The meeting came to an end. Sighing heavily, I felt exhausted. I finished the bitter dregs of my cold coffee, then popped up to go to the toilet. Tessa wouldn’t have been in the Australian mammals meeting anyway. Her lack of presence there caused no alarm. Still, I couldn’t help but feel like Tessa was giving me the cold shoulder. Trying not to worry about it too much, I took my afternoon coffee out the back. Given there was an unpleasantly warm wind, I headed into the nocturnal house. There, I sat on the concrete floor, slowly sipping my coffee. On my way out, I checked the thermostat for the tarsier exhibit, just to be extra cautious. I pulled a face, as the temperature had dropped. Hoping nothing was wrong, I raised the heat to the correct volume, then departed.
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.