He goes on his nightly rounds across the acres.
Checking and cross-checking to ensure the locks are firm.
Everything seems to be in place. Still, something stirs in his soul. Somewhere ahead, a wolf howls and a hyena cackles.
He makes his way to the lion’s enclosure to see it sprawled over a boulder. In the dark of the night, the gold fur looks like highly polished sand. Satisfied, he leaves.
The lion sleeps tonight. It is not in the jungle. It is not mighty.
As he goes onward, everything is eerily quiet. The monkeys are strangely silent – as if they finally realised that shaking the grills won’t lead to their opening.
Then he begins to hear it. Slow and steady, until it reaches fever pitch. The birds.
Cockatoos. Parakeets. Canaries. A heady rush of feathers.
He watches silently, as they take to the sky. Their bodies are luminescent in the moonlight. He watches until they merge with the blackness of the night.
He walks to inspect the damage. Just a few broken locks, no real harm done.
He realises that some things cannot be kept in cages. Love, for instance.
Which is why he became a zookeeper. To put things behind bars.
If only he looked up one final time before leaving, he might have beheld a magnificent sight.
With the birds perched comfortably on it, the moon had grown wings.