The Zoo Keeper - Part 8

Are you ready to find out about the history of the zoo?

The Zoo Keeper
Part 8 of 10
By Amanda Sington-Williams

‘Some people,’ Senor Fenandez said to me. ‘Are frightened of themselves. They think that if they change their outer appearance, their memories will vanish like the steam of a train as it chugs round a corner. But memories should pass from generation to generation. They must be kept alive, so that we can prevent it from happening again. So it is possible to learn from mistakes.’ For a long moment, his eyes closed and I thought perhaps he’d fallen asleep. ‘Juan will take over from me when I’ve gone,’ he said.

And the zoo?’ I asked. ‘What happened to the zoo? Why-’

‘Senor Fenandez will explain.’ Juan poured out three shots of brandy, handed them round.

The old man scrutinized Juan, then drank his brandy

‘In 1960,’ Senor Fenandez said, ‘the mayor of this town, one of Franco’s men, ordered that the park should be turned into a zoo. He had grand ideas of self-importance, he thought that a zoo would add prestige to the city, that Franco would think him a man of vision, that he would accordingly reward him with gifts and power.’ He stopped for breath. ‘Imagine, the mayor had said at the opening ceremony. Beasts of the jungle, tamed to live here, in this city. Like all of you, he said and pointed to the crowd that had been ordered to cheer him. You too, need to be broken of your communist beliefs. Franco is the greatest.’ Senor Fenandez paused. I took the opportunity to glance round the room at Juan who was sitting, his legs crossed, the brandy cast aside on the table while he stared out of the window. I took a sip of mine and moved my chair nearer to the old man.

Senor Fernandez will continue the story on Sunday. Don't miss it!


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