behind the glass.
Are they all
alive? Some aren't even moving.
theyre all alive. Some may be sleeping. I
hear they can sleep standing up.
What do they
do all day, when they arent sleeping, I
around, jump in the watertheyre good
swimmerssquawk and flap and swallow fish
whole. Not a bad life. Everything they need is
What do you
think they think about?
nothing muchfood, play, maybe sex, if
its mating season.
Do they mind
theyre simple. They dont have our
sense of individual space and privacy.
so bored. Don't they get bored?
think so. They arent as complex as we are.
Their needs are very basic. If they were like us,
this might seem like a prison, but theyre
not capable of feeling and thinking the kinds of
things you worry about.
Have they ever
been anywhere else? Is this the only world they
Yeah. This is
it I imagine.
What's it like
. . . to look out . . . every day . . .
on a sea of
faces, wide-eyed and beakless, rounded flippers
waving about, shrill, high-pitched shrieking and
layers of unintelligible chatter punctuated with
loud, boisterous squawking?
We have a
famous ancestor who told a story about how
wenot all penguins, just those of us who
are now kept by humansended up in zoos,
museums, and aquariums. None of us believed the
story was completely true. There were many things
that were beyond our imagination. It did, however,
give us something in common. And our generation
could only dream . . . and occasionally hope,
because we only knew this place.
friends Zwakh-ah-ah-akh, Xipshch-Xipshch, Yeedoor-Ahh
shared my hope of one day finding freedom,
something that we'd never understood until Eck
escaped. She was caught within minutes but not
before she got a good look on the other side.
Most of the flock was too terrified to ask what
she saw, but we were curious. But Eck behaved
strangely. She would stand for days at the glass
wall, and she never spoke, even to us. And she
never ate or slept either. One morning we woke up
and she was gone.
After that we
behaved differently during daylight hours. Well,
not so differently that the humans would
recognize any difference. We watched them
carefully but not so they noticed. Humans get
nervous and agitated when you stare at them for
too long, like Eck used to do. So from
reflections and sidelong looks we scanned the
human herd for signs of understanding.
what they were thinking.