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  • We arrived at the zoo before the groups of mom-friends and their collective 12 children, before the red-and-white-uniform clad middle school field trips, before the sun came out from under the night's thick cloud comforter and teamed up with the visitors' chatter to scare the animals back. My assignment was to photograph the petting zoo. I walked with my classmate down a winding concrete path that twisted even more in real life than it did on the zoo map. As we descended, zookeepers moved quietly behind the thickening island-esque flora, and suddenly the screechy call of a bird-or-monkey-or-something rang out from above The calls were just loud enough to take hold of the ambiance, but distant enough to not shatter it completely.

    My classmate and I stopped and listened.

    "This is kind of surreal, isn't it?" I asked.

    "Is the zoo even open yet?" my classmate replied.

    The path took us closer and closer and closer until finally, a dark monkey-- shouting and half-hidden by palm fronds-- came into view. But I only looked for a second because somehow, I hadn't noticed the family following the path behind us. The baby seemed a bit too young to fully grasp the idea of a zoo-- or maybe it was just too early. But his dad drank it in with the awe of a child.
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