The thought of the Kalgoorlie animals gnawed away at me, figures which have loomed in the undercurrent of my dealings within the ZAA, but as ghostly figures, rather than main characters. Now they were staring into the blinding headlights, taking centre stage and demanding our attention. Addax, zebra, meerkat, lion, cheetah, rhino, gorilla, giraffe – all on the line. Feeling a little scatterbrained, I sat down fifteen minutes early for the TAG meeting. I should have gotten myself a coffee, but instead I answered emails. By the time the meeting was actually due to start, I found myself dropping in a minute late. When I heard footsteps, I placed myself on mute, then glanced up. I’d miss little right at the beginning of the meeting. Mum was the one who entered through the back door. I felt like I needed her blessing in order to proceed. Yet, Mum was quick to come into the fridge and then leave again. I didn’t get the chance to ask her about possibly building new exhibits, or recommitting our efforts to the Kalgoorlie animals. I found myself flicking my fingernail against my wrist, giving myself a little bit of a zap to distract me. Biting the inside of my lip, I needed to keep my eyes off Hunter, those blue eyes sparkling in a way which honestly didn’t help. It wasn’t like I was madly in love with the guy, just that my anxiety was getting the better of me. Others in the Zoom call were speaking over one another. My stomach grumbled. I would make sure that I had something to eat once we’d finished. Mum must have already collected some food, to take back to the entry kiosk where she would be working for the busy school holiday morning. We needed to think of our own capacity, as well as the needs of the animals. Raffa sighed heavily.
“I think we should listen to Raffa,” Hunter spoke up.
My heartrate raced.
“Thank about it, what will happen to these animals if we don’t intervene?”
“Well, they’re private property,” Frazer outlined. “They would be sold as assets of the property as part of the liquidation process.”
“So, we’d have to pay for them.”
“We’ve tried asking nicely many, many times. What makes you think it will be different now?”
“If we all pool our funds, then there won’t be an undue burden on one institution or another. We’ll all benefit in the long run from this, and I’m not just talking from a PR perspective.”
“How genetically valuable are these animals?”
“There’s a bull hippo, need I say more?” Des pointed out.
“Yeah, fair enough.”
It was a double-edged sword – if we didn’t spend the money on acquiring the animals, then we wouldn’t have the individuals to fill the exhibits. Those exhibits, though, may have been financially unattainable were we to pour the funds from Roz into purchasing stock.
“How would we decide who actually homes the animals?” Frazer wanted to know. “I’m not saying I’m against it, I just think we need a plan before we go into it.”
“Well, I’d say that the TAGs would decide, if not the species coordinators,” Ara outlined. “That would be my call. It can’t be that hard to rehome them.”
At least, it shouldn’t have been that hard to rehome them. Therefore, the TAG made the decision to pool funds to purchase the animals, if that was what it took to save them, and ensure they remained both alive and in Australia. We moved onto the member reports.
“Taronga Western Plains Zoo?”
I sat forward in my chair.
“I wanted to ask you about Djembe’s pregnancy,” Blessing enquired. “How is she going?”
Had it not been for the situation with the Kalgoorlie animals, the pregnant bongo otherwise may have been the main focus for the meeting.
“We’re not too far away. Hopefully we’ll have a healthy calf on the ground in another few months.”
“When is she due?”
“October, roughly, we believe. It’s hard to put a precise date on these things, even though we roughly know when she was mated.”
I was glad Claire was getting some rest. I left the ungulate TAG meeting.
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.