Zebrinny – offspring of a male horse and female zebra
The zoo was quiet in the rain. I guess most people don’t like walking around and staring at wet animals that seem to have gloomy looks. I had promised Adya though and she wouldn’t hear about not going.
It was strange to think that in this moment I was tiring of having a five year old daughter but school was out, mum was working away and I was working at home, trying to juggle all the roles and feeling too tried to care anymore.
At least at the zoo there was things to distract Adya and walking in the rain was calming me. Without the crowds of people, I felt more safe to let her roam and do what she liked as long as it wasn’t trying to get into the animal enclosures.
‘Can we get ice cream, daddy?’ she asked as we went to see the Big Cats.
‘We just had lunch,’ I answered back.
‘Okay, later. Can you see the leopard?’
Adya pressed herself to the marked glass pane and looked around the forest scene.
I shook the umbrellas out and read the sign about the leopard.
‘I can’t see him,’ Adya whined and stuck her tongue out at her reflection.
I came over looked up, searching the thick tree branches. The leopard wasn’t to be seen.
‘Tigers!’ Adya cried and dashed over.
I trailed after her as we went from each big cat until we came outside again. The rain was really coming down.
‘Maybe we should go home?’ I asked timidly.
‘No,’ Adya shouted and stamped her foot in a puddle, splashing us both.
‘Okay,’ I uttered and huddled under my umbrella more.
People thinned out as we carried on. I saw groups of families gathered in the cafes or shops or under makeshift shelters. Adya wouldn’t hear about stopping unless that was for ice cream.
I got her a small cone and watched her get chocolate ice cream all over her face. We sat inside a cafe before heading off again. There were monkeys to see, birds to admire and an ant eater to watch sleeping. Still the rain came down and water dripped off and soaked everything. To make matters worse most of the animals were in hiding and Adya was upset she couldn’t see them all.
‘But why daddy?’ she cried.
‘Because they come from hotter places and it’s cold out. They like to stay warm.’
‘Why do they have to stay inside?’ Adya pouted.
‘Because it’s wet and they don’t like it,’ I sighed.
‘I like the rain! And I like puddles!’ Adya shouted and began stomping about in a large puddle as only a crazy five year old can.
‘There’s a cafe and shop, let’s go get a drink and I’ll buy you a teddy.’
I got a coffee and Adya a juice. I was so numb that I couldn’t feel my fingers or my feet. I didn’t take off my coat because I’d lose heat but also there was nothing worse then putting a wet coat back on.
Adya swinging her legs, sipped her apple juice and looked at the map. It was damp, full of folding lines and starting to look tatty. She named the animals we had seen; sea-lions, camels, kangaroos, red pandas etc and the animals we were to visit next; warthogs, giraffes, wolves, deer and zebra.
I half listened to her, enjoying the spreading warmth of the coffee. There were a few people at some of the other tables; a young couple on a date, a mother and two older children, an old couple and a member of staff on a break.
‘What teddy do you want, Adya?’ I asked, nodding towards the little jungle themed shop.
‘I don’t want one for there. I want one from the big shop at the front,’ Adya declared.
‘Guess it wouldn’t get wet being carried around that way,’ I mused.
‘And we have to get mummy something,’ Adya added.
‘And me….?’ I asked like a child.
Adya frowned, her small brow creasing then nodded and said, ‘yes, you can get something too, daddy.’
We finished our drinks and went back out into the rain. Adya splashed in the puddles, pointed at animals and seemed never to stop. I plodded along with water in my boots, feeling tried, craving a hot bath and a beer.
We made it around the rest of the animals and finally ended up at the last set which was deer, antelope and zebra. Most of the animals were sheltering in the low wooden stables with straw covered floors.
I picked Adya up to see better but these animals were not as exciting as some of the others. Grateful to see her bored, we hurried along and got to the zebra.
‘Why is that one a different colour, daddy?’
I looked where Adya was pointing and saw a young zebra, a year or so old and it was brown and less stripy then the others. It’s mane and tail were dark brown and longer then the other zebra.
‘Maybe, because it’s a baby?’ I spoke, ‘let’s see if there’s a sign….’
I moved down, carrying Adya on my hip. She was getting to large to carried. We came across the information point and after a scan, I spotted the odd zebra.
‘His name is Oz and his mother was a zebra but his dad was a horse, their foals are called zebrinny. He was born in twenty-nineteen. He likes carrots- a lot!’
Adya giggled and waved at the zebra, who ignored her and carried on eating.
‘That’s why he’s different then,’ I explained, ‘he’s part horse, that’s why he’s brown.’
Adya give a satisfactory nod and our day at the zoo was almost over. We walked back and went to the shop. I was worried it would be busy and noisy with children but it was nearly empty like the rest of the place had been.
Adya got a basket, leaving me to carry her pink umbrella along aside my black one. I followed close behind her, watching as she looked at the things. We went to the stuffed animals, there was a huge selection to pick from.
‘What are going to get Adya?’ I asked.
‘I want a bra-nnie! Like Oz,’ she cried.
‘Oh….’ I looked on the shelves, thinking there was no chance they’d have such a rare creature, ‘what about a tiger instead? They’re your favorite.’
She shook her head and carried on looking.
A member of staff came by and I broke with the man protectal and asked, ‘excuse me do you have a zebrinny?’
‘A what?’ the teenage girl asked me.
‘It’s a half horse, half zebra.’
She shook her head and walked away.
‘They don’t have any, sweetie,’ I said to Adya.
My daughter looked at me like she was about to explode.
‘We can just get a zebra…’
‘No!’ Adya screamed, ‘I want a zeb-brinie! And I won’t go home without one!’
I looked around desperately hoping one would appear out of thin air.
Adya crossed her arms over her chest, tucked her chin down and looked like she was holding her breath. Her little cheeks were red and her eyes all ready wet with tears. She was on the edge of a tantum.
I looked for another member of staff and spotted an older man stacking books. I went over and tried him, perhaps we could come to some other arrangement instead? Get a zebra and a horse and have someone sew them together in the back room?
‘Excuse me, do you have any zebrinny?’ I asked.
The man glanced up from the books and looked at me.
‘I’m cold, wet and tried,’ I explained, ‘my daughter wants one. I’m guessing you don’t have any, so can we sort something out for her and then we can go home?’
‘There’s one of the shelf behind you,’ the man said.
I spun so fast I almost tumbled over. I ran to the spot and hanked the half horse half zebra teddy off the shelf and looked at it like it was a miracle in my hands.
‘That one, daddy!’ Adya cried and rushed over to me, ‘he looks like Oz!’
I give her the toy and she hugged the zebrinny tightly.
Chuckling from behind made me turn and I looked at the male staff member, ‘happy to help!’ he called.
‘Thank you,’ I replied back.
We bought a few other things, took them to the till then left. In the car, I turned up the heating, took off my soaked through coat and drove us home.
Adya fell asleep hugging the zebrinny.
(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)
This story completes April 2020’s A-Z Challenge. It’s been fun and hard writing at times. I hope you have enjoyed reading these stories. Tomorrow, I’ll be kicking off a new month and I hope to see you there! Hayley.