Robin de Voh
writer, developer, nerd

Nanoprep 2018 Day 13: the Zoo

By Robin de Voh on 2018-10-13

It was a beautiful day in the zoo, and there were a lot of people around. Good weather always brought out the families with the yearly passes, coming to see the animals they'd already seen multiple times that year. You could also very easily recognize the parents who really didn't want to be there, but found it easier to acquiesce to their children than to tell them they couldn't go to the zoo one more time.

Democracy was there with his son Blade, too. And it was Blade's first time in a zoo. And he was obviously enjoying himself greatly, running from one pen to the other.

"What's this, dad?" he said enthusiastically. He wasn't quite able to understand the signs yet.
"This, my son, is an elephant. They used to be very common in Africa, a continent in the south of the planet."
"Why do they have such weird noses?"

Democracy read the sign, which also explained some basic information about their anatomy, lifestyle, habitat and interactions with humans.

"It's because they don't have hands, see. They use their 'trunks' to grab things instead. And they can use it to suck up water and spray and clean themselves with it."

Blade nodded with a big smile on his face. He then noticed another enclosure and ran over there. Democracy smiled and wondered if his young child would retain any of the information at all. Blade's enthusiasm and excitement were running the show right now, he thought as he trundled after his son.

"And what are these, dad? Their necks are weird!"
"Those are giraffes, I think," he said as he checked the sign to verify. His history books had had information about a lot of the extinct species of Africa, as well as those of other continents. But the information had been cursory, and he didn't remember all of it.

The zoo had opened up a few years ago and it was a technological marvel. They had managed to clone many animals from Earth's history, extinct ones young and old. In the European section, there were woolly mammoths, and when you entered the African section, there was an enclosure full of dodo birds as well. Those had captivated Blade for longer than most animals did, mostly because they looked so weird to him.

He told Blade what the sign said and answered some more of his questions as best as he could.

And of course Blade got distracted halfway through a sentence and ran ahead yet again, straight into the next section. Democracy followed him, but didn't rush. If he tried to keep up with Blade he would be too tired to finish the zoo visit, and he wanted to make sure Blade saw as much of the park as possible.

That section was simply called "Earth", and contained cloned and resurrected species that originally could be found all over the planet, not limited to any specific region. They saw falcons, there was a giant water basin with orcas in it, but there was one enclosure in specific that grabbed Blade's attention.

It was an enclosure that didn't look like most. It wasn't dirt ground and pieces of trees placed around to simulate a natural environment. Instead, it was a big glass dome, covering an enclosure set some meters deep into the ground. In it, there were small buildings and even some roads.

"Dad? What are those?"

Democracy didn't need a sign for this one. Everyone above a certain age knew what these were.

"Humans, Blade. Those are humans."
"They kinda look like us, but why are they such weird colors?"
"Well, humans came in many different colors, depending on where they're from. From the south, they're darker, and from the north, they're lighter. And everything in between, really."
"But they're not blue like us," Blade said, holding up his arm to show his skin color.
"Exactly. Because they're like us, but different," Democracy said.
"Why did they go extinct, dad, if they're like us?"
"They ruined their own planet, son. One of the main reasons our scientists went to Earth after it had become uninhabitable, was to resurrect them specifically. To use as an argument that we should take our environment more seriously."
"They didn't do that?"
"They didn't do that. They pumped it full of gases that eventually caused them all to die off."

Blade looked sad.

"But we're okay, right?"
"We're okay, buddy. It worked. Bringing them back to life and asking them why they had done what they had done made it clear that those on our planet opposing change would lead us to the same conclusion. Extinction."
"Oh... I'm glad we're okay, dad. I'm glad we're smarter than them."
"Me too, son."

Funny thing about the names 'Democracy' and 'Blade', is that these are weird, yes, but perhaps less so for Zimbabweans. A good while ago I came across a list of names that to an English speaker definitely stand out as 'odd'. 'Ballot Box Makhosi' was an example. 'Psychology Maziwisa' is another. And he actually has a wikipedia page, so you know it's true. So to give the idea that these aliens might just be regular humans, it seemed a fun way to go. And now you know something about Zimbabwe. Look at us, getting smarter every day. Also **climate change is real**. Just wanted to make sure you got that.