where the writers are
Working at the Oklahoma City Zoo


Did I ever tell you my story about the monkey-eating eagle? Assuming I didn't, I'll tell it now. I was living in Oklahoma City going to school. I had a temporary job between semesters at the Oklahoma City Zoo. I was tucked away in an office that had no windows.

One day a bunch of guys dressed up in falconry clothing (you know, with thick leather covering their arms) came into my office with a large crate. They told me that the crate held a monkey-eating eagle that the zoo folks had been showing around the nation. The bird had just returned to OKC via air. They had decided, they told me, to open the crate in my office, so that the bird wouldn't be shocked by bright sunlight. They decided to open the crate in the dark, then turn the lights on, then take him into a sunlit office, then outside.


So the lights went out, and the guys went about opening the crate. All of a sudden, there was a loud bang--the sound of wood crashing to the floor. One of the guys cried out, "He's loose!" For a second, I just sat there. I felt the breeze of the strong bird flapping its wings, and I thought OMG! These guys are dressed for this, but I'm not, and if this bird can eat monkeys, it can probably eat me! I lowered my head to my desk, as though I were going to take a nap, and froze.Then came the cry I was most eager to hear: "I've got him! I've got him!" Someone turned on the lights.


I can't tell you how disappointed I was to find out that the bird was not really that big. Either he hadn't been fed his usual monkey diet or he ate really little monkeys. I don't think he could or would have eaten me after all.


A few years later--long after I left the temp job at the zoo--I saw an article in a St. Louis newspaper with a relatively large headline, saying that the director of the Oklahoma City Zoo had been charged with smuggling that very same bird into the country. Because the monkey-eating eagle was an endangered species, it was illegal to take them out of Africa, their native habitat!


Another day, back to the job at the zoo, I looked out of the window (I must have been promoted to an office with a window) and came face-to-face with an elephant! That could have been an exciting story  too, but that's pretty much the end. The elephant was just getting his picture taken in front of the zoo headquarters for a promo.


The end.