A Day at the Zoo

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The sun was sailing high across the sky on a crisp, April day in Washington D.C., as my father and I strolled through the National Zoo. Leaves crunching beneath our feet on the redbrick path, we noticed a variety of exotic animals held captive in their own miniature worlds. The stench of the animals was certainly polluting the air of tourists, but the look in their eyes was the only captivating attribute that occupied my mind. My father and I gazed in wondrous awe as we strolled through the zoo on that crisp, April day.

A llama, the greeter of the zoo, spat at innocent children as they curiously made their way. One could say I was like a child in that moment, because I too was not smart enough to stay away from the salivating beast. It was a not so warm welcome to a chilly day. With a wet shirt, I made my way to the big cats’ area, where my father and I caught a glimpse of cheetahs, gold-mane lions, and a black panther. They were sullen and shy, as if the ferocious fire had been removed from their eyes. As we wondered further into the zoo, the outdoors became indoors and the heat of generators warmed our icy cheeks. Inside, elephants, primates, bats, snakes, were all present, each behind an impenetrable glass case. They all had the same look as the cats; they were gloomy and dismal. As we stepped back outside, the icy breeze seemed much colder now than before.

The final exhibit was the birds of prey. They were all hiding within their wooden cages to escape the coolness that had stricken Washington, all but one. The only bird outside was perched upon a log posted up against the surrounding fence. It was a bald eagle. Unwavering in the cold, it sat perched, staring right back into my eyes as I gazed into its. It lacked that same look the other animals had. Its brown, iridescent eyes were awake and proud. It was then I realized why this bird was a symbol of America, of freedom, and of hope. In that moment, in our nation’s capital, I saw why our founding fathers selected that glorious bird as a symbol of our country.

As we left the zoo, my father asked me if I enjoyed the massive zoo. I replied and told him of course I did, as any kid would. It was not about the beauty of the animals, however, I enjoyed it because I discovered, within the eagle’s eyes, the sense of pride of which our country is made. As the leaves at the exit crunched and cracked beneath our feet, I could hear the boisterous call of the bald eagle and feel the warmth of the sun radiating down on us.





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sunshine2 said...
Jan. 29, 2009 at 8:53 pm
What a great paper. I am so proud of you. Your paper made me feel as though I was there with you and your dad. I could feel the cold and see the animals. Thanks for sharing your story. Jane
 
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