Newt was happy to be at the zoo and comforted by his new friendship with the man in the blue coveralls who brought him food and sat with him and told him stories of all the animals in the zoo each day. But the nights were still cold and long and Newt dreadfully missed the daytime companionship of the man in the blue coveralls.
One especially long night, Newt devised a plan to find out where the man in the blue coveralls went each evening. The first step in this plan was to figure out the name of the man. And so the next morning, at the time of morning when the sky begins to brighten to a dull gray with the promise of a glorious rising sun just around the corner, Newt positioned himself at the far end of his cage in a spot near the open window.
After a while he could hear the clop, clomp, clunk of the boots of the man in the blue coveralls as he trudged along the back paths of the zoo towards the round building at the center of the zoo. Newt knew that this round central building was where all the food for the zoo animals was stored and prepared because the man had told him so. Newt heard the large door of that round building creak open, just as it did each morning shortly before dawn.
Next Newt heard sounds of cabinents being opened and closed and the sounds of dishes being laid out on a metal countertop. Then came the sounds of refridgerators being opened and there followed the sounds of a great chopping and blending and running of water. This went on for quite some time.
The sky had turned to that blushing color of orangey-pink that signals the sun to wake by the time all the sounds of food preparations had finished. Newt had tried to be patient, but concentrating for that long was quite difficult for a young bear, even one as smart and clever as Newt. He now refocused his attention on listening to the man with the blue coveralls, who began trudging along the back paths of the zoo. The man’s steps were a bit quicker now, as he was feeling more awake after the exercise and concentration of preparing the animals’ breakfast, but his steps were also deeper due to the heavy buckets he carried, filled past the brims with filled dishes. Newt was not sure if each dish held a different kind of food. He suspected it must as he could not imagine the giraffe’s eating the same raw meat that Newt now ate each day. The man in the blue coveralls had told him many times about the giraffe family and about their long, long necks and impossibly long tongues. Newt resolved that one day he would make sure to meet the giraffe family and find out what they ate for breakfast. But for now, Newt refocused on listening for the man.
Newt head the man’s footsteps tromp near the bird house. He knew this particular animal house because every so often the parrot family got into an arguement with the eagle twins and such a squawking and shreeking would arise from the bird house that you would think that a small child had plucked everyone’s feathers out! Now Newt listened in earnest, for the daddy parrot was a very, very special bird.
The man in the blue coveralls had told Newt that the daddy parrot was once the pet of a traveling performer. This special parrot had been taught to speak human words and the man had told Newt that sometimes you could converse with this brilliant blue parrot, whose name was Marco.
Before he came to the zoo, Marco had travelled with the performer to places on every nearly every continent of the globe: from the misty rice fields of China to the ancient trading city of Petra. From the white cliffs of Dover in England to the lush green banks of the Mississippi River in America, Marco had seen the sights and learned the language of every place he went. As a result, he was multilingual and smarter than most humans.
And so to stimulate his intellect and avoid boredom, Marco played a special game with the man in the blue coveralls each morning. The man in the blue coveralls would call out his, “Hallooo!” good morning greeting as he entered the bird house. Most of the birds would be just waking up, but Marco was always ready. And the game would begin.
And this morning, Newt was ready and listening too.
The man in the blue coveralls called out, “Halloooo!”
Marco replied, “Marco!”
The man yelled, “Polo!”
Marco squawked, “London!”
The man replied, “The capital of England!”
Marco countered, “2+2”
The man retorted, “2+2=4”
…and here came the really interesting bit…
Marco said, “Who is Keeper Karl?”
And the man in the blue coveralls laughed and replied, “That’s me! Thank you for a fun game, Marco. See you this afternoon!”
“Ha!”, thought Newt, “I got it! The man in the blue coveralls is named Keeper Karl!”
Now I can work on to the next part of my plan!
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