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Joburg Zoo

Robert Berold

The same parking lot on Upper Park Drive. The same trees, the forest of Forest Town. The same seal swimming pool ('that suns his puckered back/ that barks from pirus rock'). And now, in the old cage of the polar bear, who used to pad forever lonely, up and down - a Snowy Owl from North America. In another cage, a bearded monkey from Sumatra and a tiny suni buck from East Africa share a patch of morning sun. A teenage chimpanzee, pained from being peered at, holds a cardboard box over his head. In the reptile house, in a glass box warmed by high-watt lights, an African Bullfrog, fat as a cowpat, blinks in his puddle. Near the elephants, a notice behind glass listing animal life expectancies, in captivity and in the wild. Homo sapiens is listed, but only in captivity.