It appears to be another ordinary day at the Zillion Animal Zoo, nothing extraordinary nothing new. I set out on my daily route. Oh how my legs ache with every step I take. Does walking never end? Feed the lions their meat at noon, monkeys need their bananas, stuff the alligators with fish, and so on a never ending cycle.
Ah, the life of a zoo keeper.
At the end of the day I reach the last cage, the one inhabited by raccoons. That’s when I first lay eyes on him. A newborn kit, his eyes are tightly closed, not a stripe is on his tail, and he only weighs three and a half ounces.
He had been found in a debilitated barn that was about to be demolished apparently the mother abandoned him, yet no one knew why. I make a milestone decision. I adopt him as my own. My heart goes out to the tike he is malnourished, frail, and weak. I feed him with milk replacement out of a four ounce bottle five times a day, burp him when necessary, cuddle him, and buy him toys.
My fellow work mates warn me not to become overly attached to him, and to remember that raccoons were aggressive animals.
I nod my head, but inwardly I think it will be different for me it will be different you’ll see.
Eight weeks later he opens his beady dark chocolate brown eyes, wears a mask, and has developed three black stripes on his tiny tail.
He is able to eat vegetables, nibble corn on the cob, and consume many of nature’s own yummies and yuckies (minnows and such).
Ringold rides on my shoulder as I traverse on my schedule. His razor sharp teeth nibble affectionately at my ear. With his little hands he offers me anything he finds in the trash cans: Half eaten sandwiches, apple cores, and banana peels. He is not only affectionate and intelligent, but also a four legged comedian.
Once again my work pals warn me, and once again I ignore them.
No, they are wrong not Ringold, he is different from the other raccoons.
Six months later Ringold, is practically a full grown raccoon, too large and heavy to carry on my shoulder. Instead he is my second shadow and follows every move I make on my daily walk.
For the third time they warn instead of listening I pay them no heed.
It will be different for me it will be different you’ll see.
Seven months have come and gone Ringold is walking beside me as I go through my work day. A key ring slips from my hand. I reach down to gather them up. Before I reach them, Ringold snatches the shiny keys in his mouth and bounds away. I chase after the fleeing raccoon finally cornering him between the tiger and Hyena cages.
“Ok Ringold, you had your fun now hand the keys over.”
I tug the key ring away from the raccoon’s fierce grip. He gives a warning snarl then a growl. To my astonishment he swirls his powerful body into my face. His weakness has been replaced by strength, clawing and biting he succeeds in his goal to shred my face. Never again will I walk with Ringold, the raccoon.
They warned me three times, I paid them no heed.
I had deceived myself, and now I’m awaiting plastic surgery.
Things were not different and for the first time I see.
I learned an important lesson, be careful who you become friends with they aren’t always what they appear to be.
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