The White Peacock: A Tragedy

The White Peacock: A Tragedy

I thought I would share a tragic story from my days of working at the zoo.

The zoo I worked at (for far too long) was a small zoo at the base of a mountain. I actually have seen wild bears running around and probably showing off their freedom to the bears the zoo owns. Once I had a close encounter with a wild bear at the zoo: SCARY! I am not a bear fan…when I was little I watched that “Grizzly Man” documentary and I have terrified of bears since! I will have to share my bear encounter experience one of these days. That being said, I have had many INTERESTING…and sometimes terrifying experiences at this zoo (and not all of them involved animals…haha).

My story begins with my usual search for “the right picture” at my current job. I came across this picture of a stunning white peacock which are considerably rare. As I looked at the picture memories of the sad incident from the zoo involving a white peacock popped into my mind.

Every zoo I have been too has brightly colored and glamorous peacocks roaming freely about the park; we have all seen them nibbling on left-over food, showing off their metallic feathers or sounding off their haunting calls. I think they may even roam freely at night as well…at the restaurant I worked at there was always a fresh smelly present from the peacocks outside of the front door in the mornings. About five years ago the zoo acquired a rare white peacock. He was beautiful and the way he strutted around the park he knew it. He also was the zoo keepers’ pride and joy.

Every zoo has a lion…every zoo. After The Lion King I think it became a requirement to have “Simba” and “Mufasa” (and besides lions are awesome). During my lunch break one day I decided to stop by the lion habitat; it was right by the main restaurant so I visited it often. As I looked at the lion family lazily basking in the sun I caught a glimpse of a white object on the overhang to the lion’s habitat. It was the white peacock himself. He was sifting through the thick vines that covered the overhang (which was a near impossible thing to get on to). He was flirting with death. For the next few weeks I caught him up on the overhang several more times. It seemed this peacock liked to live life on the edge….literally.

After having a few days off I returned back to work to find that the zoo keepers couldn’t seem to smile.
A fellow co-worker and friend, Matt raced over to me with wide eyes, “You won’t believe what happened yesterday.”
“What?” I asked alarmed. I could feel the depression in the air.
Matt went on to tell me the story: He had been on his lunch break and walked past the Lion’s Habitat to find a frantic crowd of people with their faces pressed up against the glass and their hands covering their dropped jaws.
“What’s go’n on?” Matt wondered and fought through the crowd of on-lookers.
“He’s about to fall in!” A woman shrieked and covered her face with her hands.
“What?!” Matt cried out and just as he got a glimpse into the habitat the white peacock leaped off of the overhang right into a circle of four lions. All Matt could do was watch in horror as white feathers started to fly.
Suddenly an older women grabbed Matt’s maroon shirt that had “Cheyenne Mountain Zoo” inscribed on it. “You work here!” She yelled. Matt started to explain to her that he just worked food service which was a totally different and separate part of the zoo.
The lady screamed ignoring everything he had said, “Jump in there and save that peacock!”
She squeezed his arm tightly and her eyes were filled with threats.
Of course, Matt wasn’t going to leap into the Lion’s Habitat…who did this lady think he was… Tarzan? Spider man? Lion Tamer?
“I’m not gonna jump in there! Are you crazy?” Matt said trying to brush off the women’s hook-like fingers. He looked back into the cage to find there was nothing left to even save…except maybe about twenty feathers.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The poor white peacock in all of his glittering glory was gone. It took the zoo keepers weeks to recover and smile again; yet, they have never gotten another white peacock. The lesson I learned that day is…look before you leap.

What is in a NAME?

During my senior year of high school and during the summers I was home from college I was faithfully employed by the local zoo. The zoo I worked at wasn’t your average government funded zoo. It was small and buried in the mountains, owned privately by a collection of people and very faithful donors. To get my story going right along, I have had a lot of wild (haha!) , hilarious adventures while being employed here. What does this have to do with my writing a book? I’m about to tell you…

The zoo changing it’s managers became an expected summer ritual. I have probably seen 20 people hired and fired there…I don’t know what was going on! One year we worked under a man by the name of “Richard”, but he went by “Dick” (which by the way….how does that even work? Richard shortens into Dick? Huh?). As the month’s wore on, Dick, at first liked by the employees began to show his jerky colors. He was rude and did a lot of blame shifting. At the end of his “reign of terror”  he was extra mean to an older lady that is like the grandma everyone wants that worked there with us. Wow! Who does that??? Finally, he was fired. I will never forget what the “grandma of the zoo” said about him when she heard he got fired. She smiled chuckling and said, “Well, Dick…he certainly lived up to his name!” 

  Have you ever had an idea pop into your head of what someone’s personality is like, simply because of their name? I have been at the books! Editing, editing and more editing. Thus far I have made some changes to the novel! First big change came about with this idea of “personality describing names” and I decided to give my main character a new name! After writing a “one Imagesentence summary” of my book for a competition (I didn’t win, boo! But I did come in 4th with the most likes, that has to count for something right?) I had a thought. The novel summary is as follows: “Even Angels have their secrets.” As I thought more and more about it, I decided to change the name of the main character from Allison, to Angel (short for Angelina); My main character is a “good girl” who is constantly afraid of disappointing her strict Mother; she is an innocent, trusting, and sweet person who always believes the best about people. As the book goes on, Angel finds herself apart of a tangled web of secrets.  I thought giving Allison, the name Angel instead, would show a reader something instantly about her personality.

Which poses a question: have you ever met anyone that literally lived up to his or her name?