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Tagalong

I woke up this morning to something of a scream outside, which jolted me out of bed. Scampering through the cottage, I encountered Reuben in the kitchen.


“False alarm,” he assured me. “It’s just squabbling birds.”


Reuben pressed a glass of orange juice into my hands.


“I think that Australian zoos should increase their involvement in reintroduction programs,” I assured, sipping from my orange juice. “To do that, though, there needs to be wild places to reintroduce the animals back into, I get that.”


I downed the rest of my drink, then rinsed the glass and set it upside down.


“That’s what I plan on saying in the meeting today, anyway.”


“Alright,” Reuben agreed. “I’m proud of you that you’d want to speak in the meeting.”


“Because I don’t normally?”


“Well, you don’t, but that’s not a problem.”


“Thank you. I’m not afraid of public speaking.”


Reuben and I departed the house for the morning. We locked the house behind us, then ambled down the path.


“The Head of Carnivores position at Adelaide Zoo is being advertised from this week.”


“Already?” I remarked. “Good old Mr Hammond’s barely in the ground yet.”


“They want to be able to have a smooth handover. I’m sure that you’ll here all about it in the carnies meeting on Thursday.”


We slipped out the gate and into the zoo.


“Would time at Werribee interest you more?”


“Well, I’m sure I’d love Werribee.”


“You know, I’m sure we’d be able to find you somewhere to stay. I know some of the Werribee keepers live in a sharehouse with an extra room.”


“You know I’m terribly tempted.”


“Then, do it,” Reuben urged. “Check with your parents, pray about it, do whatever you need to do. I still recommend it would be good to learn from the keepers at Healesville, with their specialist knowledge about Australian native species.”


We moved out into the zoo, where I caught up with Emmie. Our first stop was the Sumatran Tiger exhibit within Trail of the Elephants. While we went back-of-house, I could hear the elephants squeaking.


“Don’t worry about them,” Emmie assured. “They just want their presence to be felt here.”


She locked the gate again behind us.


“It’ll be strange, though, when they’re not here anymore.”


I pondered that idea while Emmie provided food for the tigers. Monica would have been around somewhere, but I hadn’t spotted her. By the time I returned to the Main Drive, it was almost nine o’clock, when the zoo would open. It would also be time for the bird TAG meeting, so I headed back to Reuben’s cottage. I walked in the opposite direction to those entering the zoo through the main gate. Slipping back inside, I grabbed my laptop and logged into the Zoom. I should have grabbed myself a coffee. Cathy commenced the meeting with an acknowledgement of country, before handing over to Raffa.


“Birds are often kept taxonomically. I don’t know whether that’s better or worse than them just being tacked on.”


“My view would be that integration is preferable,” Don outlined.


Isaac was in the meeting on behalf of Melbourne Zoo, and by the look of his backdrop, I gathered that he was joining from one of the meeting rooms in the administration building, perhaps facing towards one of the windows looking into the zoo.


“This conversation leads quite well to discussing our future plans.”


“I would say that there is scope to place more threatened species on display,” Des urged, “like, perhaps, some of the malleefowl at Monarto.”


“We do have an on-display aviary for malleefowl,” Blessing corrected, “on one of the walking trails.”


“Oh, sorry.”


“Do you have malleefowl in your collection up at Beerwah?”


“No, we don’t,” Hunter answered. “I would love to, though, were the animals to come up for us to be able to house them and care for them, that would be beaut.”


"I think it's great what's done so far with reintroduction programs. That's something which can be expanded even further, I think. It's part of what the role of zoos should be."


“Alright, we can talk further,” Blessing promised. “Are there any other new acquisitions planned?”


“Of course, many of us would love to import flamingo,” Raffa assured. “It’s not possible at the moment, but could be if a bird IRA is developed.”


“Is that what’s happening?”


“Not at the moment. The government can only process one at a time. Unfortunately, birds are well down the pecking order.”


I giggled, then slammed on the space bar to place myself on mute.


“How is the parrot IRA progressing in Australia?”


“Not as quickly as yours did.”


“Isaac, is there anything you would like to add from Melbourne Zoo?”


“Ah, yes, in relation to future plans, across the board we’re in the process of restoring our geographically-arranged precincts. I’ve put in a good word for bird species in that process.”


“That sounds great,” Sam praised.


“Julie, do you have anything to add?” Robin requested.


“Ah, yes,” she agreed. “We have a new species at Mogo Wildlife Park. Wild brush turkeys have been running amok over the park.”


“We have trouble with brush turkeys. They’re free-ranging in the zoo grounds and build nests all over the place. Occasionally, one will get into the sun bear exhibit and, let me tell you, Mary will make light work of them.”


I gaped. A brush turkey would be a tasty snack for a sun bear.


“Anyway, that’s not quite what I meant to report on,” Sam noted. “We’ve just bred white-rumped shamas for the first time. The eggs hatched a few weeks ago and the chicks will be on display soon in the Palm Aviary.”


I had never heard of the species before, but nonetheless a smile came onto my lips, excited that they’d been bred at Taronga for the first time.


“It’s always good to have a new addition for a new species,” Raffa affirmed.


The bird TAG meeting ended and I found myself a drink of water. After that, I took myself off for a walk. I could hear the trumpeting of elephants, so I found myself beckoned down that trail, shaded by the trees. On the way I stopped at the Sumatran Tiger exhibit, even though I’d been there in the morning. Watching Hutan pad across the leaf litter, I was struck by a moment of terror, as if there were no barriers between us, and I’d become prey. My instinct was to flee, but my feet remained stuck like they were in concrete. The reaction shocked me all the same. Hutan reached the edge of the moat, then leaned down, lapping at the water with his pink tongue. A wave of relief and joy washed over me, a soothing balm. Eventually, Hutan retreated back into the shade, to rest his chin on his striped paws again. I thought that I might have encountered Emmie somewhere around the zoo, but I didn’t end up tracking her down. I popped back out near the Australian bush section, opposite the lions. A plaque confirmed the date of opening for the previous exhibit on that site, Lion Park. Eventually, I returned to the cottage, where I found Reuben.


“How was your morning?”


“Yeah, alright, it was good,” I answered. “Emmie and I went around the carnivore round, it’s good for me to learn that stuff even if we’re just going to have the dholes.”


“At least for the time being.”


Reuben and I sat down for the primate TAG meeting. We didn’t bother with a meeting room, when it would be just the two of us on the same screen. A review of the marmoset and tamarin programs was being conducted.


“Don, you’re up first,” Christine invited. “What are your thoughts?”


“Well, tamarins have always been a flagship part of Adelaide Zoo. We plan to reacquire these species once we construct our Amazon aviary, where they’ll be housed in a mixed-species exhibit.”


“From my perspective,” Reuben chimed in, “I don’t think it would be unreasonable for you to receive new animals when the time comes, or the same ones back again. Whatever is preferred.”


“There are three managed programs – for pygmy marmosets, as well as cotton-top and golden lion tamarins,” Christine outlined. “I hold the pygmy marmoset program here at Wellington, then Reuben and Lina on behalf of Zoos Victoria coordinate the two tamarin programs.”


Christine glanced down at her notes.


“I can speak first to the marmoset program. Pygmy Marmosets are held at three institutions in New Zealand and a further fourteen institutions in Australia. Additionally, Auckland Zoo kept the species until two years ago. I coordinate the program from Wellington Zoo, where there is currently a viable breeding pair, along with a breeding group at Mogo.”


Christine cleared her throat.


“I understand, though, that Adelaide formerly held a breeding group which has now been disbanded.”


“Yes, that’s correct,” Don confirmed. “We needed to move them out as a result of our redevelopment of that area. The males were moved to Wildlife HQ in Queensland, and the females are off-display.”


Christine nodded her head. She seemed to genuinely not have realised.


“Look, I know that I was bullish with that,” Bill admitted. “I am sorry. We needed to move the animals due to the redevelopment, and the arrangement seemed pretty obvious and came together so quickly, but I should have consulted you.”


“That’s alright. I appreciate your apology.”


Bill bore an outraged expression, albeit on mute. I couldn’t tell what he thought, exactly.


“Reuben, would you like to add more in regard to the tamarin programs?”


“Yes, of course,” he accepted, after taking us off mute. “I manage both tamarin programs.”


“For cotton-tops and golden lions,” Bill supplied.


“Yes, exactly. I’ll start with the cotton-tops. The intention in recent years has been to obtain minimal population growth. Currently, the species is held by nineteen institutions in Australia and six more in New Zealand, one of our most prolific primate species.”


“And I’ve heard that there are some in private hands,” Sam mentioned.


Reuben scoffed.


“That’s just all innuendo and speculation, though, isn’t it? They’d surely all be dead by now, they’re like feral panthers in Australia.”


Sam didn’t seem so sure.


“Well, you’re the boss, if you say so--.”


“It is a serious issue if there are animals unaccounted for,” Angelique interjected, “particularly if they could be contributing to the breeding program, or especially a feral population.”


“I don’t think we need to worry about feral Cotton-Top Tamarins, so let’s move on,” Reuben insisted. “I’ve been in touch with the studbook keeper in the UK. They’re attempting to reduce the number of groups held within their country.”


“Really?”


“Yes. They want to breed rarer species.”


“Right,” Don responded with a nod. “I believe the most prolific breeding pair at the moment is at Mogo, I believe.”


Reuben nodded.


“Yes, that’s correct,” he confirmed. “I wouldn’t recommend they breed again. We need to be mindful about managing the genetics of the regional population.”


“There’s a secondary group at Mogo, isn’t there?” Sam checked. “I recall Julie mentioning it in the past.”


“Yes, there is, from the unrelated offspring of Mogo’s earlier pairs,” Don confirmed.


“I’d be happy to give the go-ahead for that group to breed,” Reuben said. “The females would be sexually mature by now. There’s no point contracepting them. I see that Julie’s not here, though, so we’ll have to make sure to mention that to her.”


“Of course.”


“We do have some sad news to report, I’m sorry,” Gerard spoke up. “One of our young male cotton-tops, Pedro, died overnight. We’re not sure of the cause of death.”


“I’m sorry to hear that, mate. I know that you were all fond of him.”


“Well, yeah, he was born here. I was there the day he was born, along with his sister.”


A sombre mood came over the meeting.


“We hold golden lion tamarins, currently they’re in our Treetop Monkeys and Apes trail,” Reuben outlined, as species coordinator. “We would hope to breed the pair multiple times, and not transfer out the offspring unless there is unexpected disharmony.”


“I feel like my intentions haven’t been made clear,” Don pointed out. “Adelaide Zoo is still firmly committed to tamarin housing and breeding. The Amazon development is the next stage in our masterplan."


“Would you be interested in joining the Red-Handed Tamarin breeding program?” Raffa asked.


“Yes, potentially, although possibly in a non-breeding capacity.”


“On behalf of Perth Zoo, we would be interested in the medium-term,” Bill spoke up.


“Right, thank you.”


“Are there any other species we want to consider for the region?” Reuben enquired.


Nobody said anything straight away.


“What would you think about golden-headed lion tamarin?”


“Look, I’ll get back in touch with the international studbook keeper. We might be able to see if our region can be of any assistance to the international program.”


“With respect, we have two institutions involved with the EEP breeding red-handeds. Surely that’s a better use of space and resources.”


Raffa poked the bridge of his glasses, to press them further up his nose. I could definitely see that he had a point about that.


“I did want to ask about emperor tamarins,” Gerard requested. “We’re going it alone here at the moment, but it would be good if we could collaborate further with Australia.”


“Yes, Gerard, that’s reasonable,” Reuben affirmed. “We likewise have a male-female pair which we have been attempting to breed from.”


“I would, personally, support the formation of a managed program,” Gerard suggested.


Therefore, Christine coordinated a vote, which unanimously supported the motion. I felt like we were coming full circle, from the discussions we’d had back in Launceston.


“There are opportunities to import from outside the region,” Reuben mentioned.


“As there are for callimico, if you’re interested,” Raffa pointed out.


“Ah, callimico,” Reuben remarked. “That takes me back, honestly.”


He sat back in his chair, shaking his head.


“And there are other primate species,” George noted, “like our brown capuchins.”


“You do know that White-Fronted Capuchins are a more threatened species?” Bill pointed out. “Back in the day, that’s why we wanted to breed them.”


“Yes, I’m aware of that,” Christine stated, ever so patiently. “In the future, we’ll need to discuss the region’s capuchin programs.”


That occasion was planned for a future date. I know that there are capuchins here at Melbourne Zoo. As far as I’m aware, they’re brown capuchins as well, like they have in Canberra. I would be intrigued to hear that conversation, even if just as a fly on the wall.


“Christine, I know this is circling back, but have you got anything else to add on marmosets?”


“We’ve got oh oh three, but I’ll get to that later.”


Nobody seemed to comment further.


“Let’s move onto the member reports now,” Christine urged. “Adelaide Zoo?”


“Nothing to report this week.”


“Beerwah?”


“I have a question for the ring-tailed lemur studbook keeper, if we’ve got a minute.”


“Yeah, of course, fire away,” Bill assured, relaxing in his seat.


“We’ve got the bachelor group and the breeders. We would love to be able to rehome those groups.”


“Yeah, right, I’m sure we can manage that.”


It surprised me that Hunter might have been looking of getting out of lemurs. Before we could continue listening to that conversation, Reuben and I heard a knock at the door. He placed us on mute, getting up to answer it. I watched as Reuben had a brief conversation with one of the keepers, then returned.


“Nothing to worry about,” he assured.


“You know, we have Francois Langurs,” Sam dangled the carrot.


“Definitely something to consider, mate,” Hunter assured.


“Melbourne Zoo?”


“We welcomed our silverback gorilla and organised to import a male mandrill from the United States.”


“Mogo Wildlife Park?”


“I’m sorry, I joined a little late.”


“Julie, what are your intentions in relation to marmoset and tamarin spaces?”


“We’re planning on maintaining our emps. They’re good breeders for us.”


“What about your cotton-tops?”


“Maggie, our oldest female, she’s been sterilised, but she’s still in with the group.”


“Your on-display group?”


“Yes. There’s only the three in the off-display group. The male and two females, bred here from different parents, will hopefully be another breeding group. We’re just awaiting the recommendation out of Zoos Victoria.”


“Ah, yes,” Reuben spoke up. “That’s all good with me.”


“Thank you,” Julie responded.


“Monarto Safari Park?”


“We performed health checkups on our alpha and beta chimpanzees during the last week.”


“Orana Wildlife Park?”


“Yes, I wanted to raise the new siamang exhibit again. We’ve allocated the space and put together some plans for the enclosures. The next step would be to work out where we’re going to find the money, and then build the thing.”


“Perth Zoo?”


“One of our female white-cheeked gibbons gave birth last Tuesday night. We haven’t determined in the baby is male or female. The keepers will continue to keep an eye on the little one, and I’ll make sure to update you.”


“Rockhampton Zoo?”


“Construction is progressing well on the gibbon exhibit. I’m anticipating that it’ll be finished by the end of the week, so we’ll have to get the plans in place to bring in some inhabitants.”


“Could I tempt you with Javan Gibbons instead?” Bill enquired. “That might solve a problem.”


“I’d remind you that you have young white-cheeks.”


“Yes, I do,” Bill affirmed. “I’ll choose the pair you’ll receive.”


He mentioned it in a kind tone, rather than a domineering one.


“Tasmania Zoo?”


“I was just wondering whether the gorilla program is at a stage when it might have its own species coordinator.”


“Are you going for the role, mate?” Reuben quipped.


“No, but I would be interested in holding the species in the future.”


I couldn’t help but think of our visit. While it was only about seven weeks ago, it felt like it belonged to another age.


“Our gorilla program is part of the EEP,” Reuben reminded, “but David raises a good point. We could potentially go it alone at some stage, but we’d need imports first.”


“We discuss the gorilla program fairly regularly,” Christine pointed out. “This can go on the agenda for next time.”


“Thank you.”


“Is there anything else, David?”


“Not really, just that we’re the only zoo in the region to hold all three program gibbon species.”


“My turn.” Christine beamed. “Our marmoset pair have produced triplets. They’re all being cared for well.”


“That’s great news.”


“Is there any general business?”


Catching me a little off-guard, Reuben looked sideways at me, but we remained on mute.


“I don’t have anything to say,” I whispered.


We finally got out of the TAG meeting, later than usual. Reuben and I returned home for dinner. He cooked a delicious vegetable curry, served with leftover naan. We were too busy stuffing our faces for a great deal of conversation, until there was nothing left on our plates.


“That was lovely.”


“What are you doing tomorrow?” he asked.


I shrugged my shoulders, considering that I still had a mouthful of food.


“You could go to the vet hospital with Meredith, that’ll hold you in good stock for Healesville.”


“Healesville?”


“I spoke to Nikki while you were with Emmie this morning. She’s the head vet at Healesville. You can start with her next week.”


“Thank you, that’d be great.” I took another mouthful of pasta, chewing it down while I thought. “Do I need to organise somewhere where I’ll live, as well?”


“No, I’ve sorted that too.”


“Well, thank you, that’s very kind.”


“Not a problem,” Reuben assured.


He accepted my bowl from me.


“I might put these in the dishwasher then head off to bed.”


Reuben strolled away.


“I don’t blame you,” I agreed.


Yet, I didn’t have the luxury. I needed to spend a couple of hours in class. Consulting my watch, it was time to open up my laptop and join the meeting. When I was let in from the waiting room, it turned out that I was the first one there, after Sam. I greeted him with a grin. My mind raced, although that wasn’t a bad thing, as it spun with anticipation about what the class would cover.


“Hello, Jumilah, how are you?” Sam asked.


“Yeah, good, thank you.”


Others started to file into the Zoom room, some putting their cameras on, others not. I had seen Sam earlier in the day, at the primate TAG meeting. Alice was wearing a heavy jumper. Piper, on the right, almost seemed to have the same one on, just in yellow instead of blue. Kenneth was still finishing off his dinner as he jumped into the call. Once the meal was done, he placed his plate down to the side, out of shot. As soon as all of the students had logged in, Sam was able to start off the class with an announcement.


“As you would know, one of your assessments is to give an exhibit design presentation. To decide on your topic and the week in which you’ll present, we’re going to play a little game.”


As Sam brought up a virtual chocolate wheel on the screen, I could feel my heart beating faster, concerned this would be a less than ideal method of deciding.


“Who would like to go first?”


There weren’t any takers.


“Alright, let’s just go alphabetically. Having a C last name, I didn’t like going first. We’ll start at the opposite end of the alphabet. Kenneth, you’re up first.”


Sam pressed the wheel. I was enchanted.


“Alright, Australian. Let’s spin again.”


“Plains, Australian Plains,” Sam declared. “Do you have any questions, Kenneth?”


“No, not really. Does that mean kangaroos and farms and stuff?”


“Up to you,” Sam answered cryptically, “but, yes, though, that’s the sort of ecosystem that you’re looking at. The word ‘plains’ is probably not one we use much.”


Kenneth nodded his head in agreement.


“Piper, you’re up next.”


She seemed unable to sit still. She was designated, by the wheel’s edict, Asian Rainforest.


“Now, I know that’s pretty broad,” Sam qualified, which I appreciated. “My advice to you would be to choose a specific region or even a specific country. That will guide you in creating a cohesive precinct.”


“Thank you.”


I smiled. Sam spun the wheel for Zach.


“South American.” He grinned. “You’ll have to give me some pointers.”


“Sure.”


Zach licked his lips. The wheel was spun again, to find the ecosystem.


“South American plains,” Sam confirmed.


Zach rubbed his hands together.


“I’m happy with that.”


Lucia grinned, her turn before mine.


“Australian, again,” Sam declared. “Let’s spin the wheel.”


It landed on woodland.


“I would love this one,” I gushed. “I’m sure that you come up with will be really, really good.”


“Thanks.”


I hadn’t realised that her surname was Hastings-Wilson, prior to her slotting in between Zach and myself in reverse alphabetical order by surname. Next, it was my turn, and the wheel came up with North American for geography.


“Ooft, that’s tough,” I remarked.


Sam spun the wheel again.


“Domestic animals,” he confirmed the option it had selected. “So, that’ll be a North American domestic animal precinct.”


I nodded, although I would have preferred literally anything else. Alice was the final candidate.


“South American again, that will be interesting.”


Sam clicked the button. The ticky, zappy music played.


“South American domestic animals.”


At least she had llamas and alpacas to include. That said, my mind started to wander, as Sam outlined when and how we would be giving these presentations. I’m a farm girl, after all. I would be able to come up with something, and I’m pretty sure that bison are a farmed species. Are bobcats domestic? They kind of are, I guess.


“Tonight, we’ll be having a variety of discussions which will hopefully help you with planning and preparing for your assessment presentation. There are a few topics I would like to cover, but generally it’ll float around a bit. Of course, if you have any questions, please speak up.”


“Will we be dealing with flat land for our assessments?” Zach asked.


Sam flashed a grin.


“Would you like another wheel?”


“Look, I have a bit to say about this.”


The floor was mine.


“We’ve eventually built a zoo from scratch. Well, my parents are in the process of that. Our property was previously our farm, so we have retained some structures and materials. Of course, most work outside that space would be dealing with what you’ve already got. That’s more challenging in some ways, but also easier in others.”


“Here at Taronga, we vacated the seal pools when we built a new exhibit precinct, over a decade ago. They’ve been retained, but heavily remodelled. Up one end is a playground and the other end is an exhibit which originally was a walk-through lemur exhibit.”


Zach grinned.


“From back when they were all the rage.”


“Yeah,” Sam agreed. “COVID put a kibosh on that for a bit.”


The lemur exhibit at Melbourne Zoo is walk-through.


“Of course, things change.”


Sam sighed.


“All sorts of things change. You can lose animals you really care about.”


I pinched my lip.


“Earlier this year, we lost our male sun bear.”


His shoulders rose and fell as he took a laboured breath.


“That was a really, really hard time. It’s especially difficult for an animal you have worked with for such a long time, who was really part of the Taronga family. He’d been a rescue bear. I hope that he did end up having a good life with us, and it was a long life.”


I felt a nudge that I could, that I should, speak up.


“A few weeks ago, I was present during a euthanasia procedure for a giraffe.”


I could feel the memory coursing through my body. Everybody watched me.


“That was here, at Melbourne Zoo.”


We left a moment of silence.


“It was strange, it was emotional, even though I hadn’t worked with her for long at all.”


The class provided space, provided what I’d just shared.


“But, there are happy times, as well. It’s really beautiful when a new animal is born.”


“Indeed,” Sam agreed with a smile. “To be brutally honest, sometimes I’d love to only put that in the media.”


The wind picked up as the conversation moved onto that topic. I listened to the rustling of the trees outside.


“We’ve had some dramas with protestors,” I divulged. “I’m not sure whether that’s going to get worse. Hopefully everyone will be able to sort themselves out.”


“I understand why people have a poor opinion of zoos. Maybe this isn’t what you want to hear, Sam--.”


“Whatever you want to say, it’s fine.”


“People see a waste of money and a waste of other resources, and not practising what they preach. Jumilah, I would love to know if your grandparents have released any animals back into the wild.”


“They have, for some of the animals.”


Zach nodded, listening closely.


“That wasn’t possible with most of the animals which came to Australia. My grandparents only kept animals they couldn’t release. Of course, they bred, but that’s good for the animals’ social development.”


“And one of those animals is the young male dhole we’re caring for at the moment,” Sam mentioned.


“That’s right,” I confirmed.


I didn’t mention the fate of the other members of the pack.


“Did, um, did your grandparents ever have Sumatran Tigers at their sanctuary?” Piper wanted to know.


“Not permanently,” I answered, “but Nanek sees wild tigers from time to time.”


“I find the idea of there being a tiger nearby more freaky than a snake,” Piper reckoned, “but maybe that’s just me and my experiences.”


For some reason, I started to think about the fire at Treetop Monkeys and Apes, and the gibbon clinging to my chest. It had been a beautiful, terrifying experience.


“Sam, I was just wondering if you would be able to investigate work experience for us.”


“Where were you after?”


“Well, we’re on the Gold Coast, but we were thinking maybe Darling Downs Zoo?”


“Alright.”


I knew little of the personal lives of my fellow students. Perhaps I’d never get to actually meet them in person, but that didn’t mean I didn’t want to know them better.


“If you could, that would be great.”


I noticed something shift across Piper’s expression. Alice parted her lips as if she was about to say something.


“I’ll speak to Raffa.”


I noticed Zach’s eyebrows rise. Perhaps he thought Sam was showing favouritism. Our class came to an end. Reuben seemed to have already gone to bed, so I switched off the lights and walked through to my room. I only had one week left in Melbourne. This wouldn’t be my bedroom for too many more nights. A part of me yearned for home, like a fond memory. I freed my hair, setting down the hair band atop the bedside chest of drawers. As I breathed out, my chest felt a little freer. I lay down in bed, feeling the pillow beneath my head. After a moment, I breathed out. I rolled onto my side and reached for my phone. As if by instinct, I called Mum, then lolled onto my back. Thankfully, she did answer, even though I feared she may have already been asleep.


“Hello,” I greeted Mum. “Sorry it’s late.”


“It’s OK, you can call us anytime,” she assured. “Are you alright?”


“Yeah,” I confirmed. “I’m going to Healesville next week.”


“Oh, that’s exciting. I hope that you have a beautiful time.”


We ended the call and I placed down my phone. I said my prayers, then fell asleep.


 

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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