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No home away from home

“Last piece is mine!”
“You had the last piece last time!”
“So what? I’m two years older than you. Bigger cubs, bigger plates.” It’s fun having lots of brothers and sisters, but sometimes you have to fight over food. My dad is a good hunter, but even a tiger sometimes has a hard time hunting all the food to feed a large family. My big, loud, pesky family.
“Boys, that’s enough eating! Get out there and play. Let your mom and the girls finish eating the antelope.” said Dad. One nice thing about living in a jungle is that you have lots of friends to play with.
“Tag, you're it!”
“Benzel, no I’m not, you didn't even touch me!”
“I did touch you, Eli!”
“You’re so annoying!”
“Whatever! Let’s play a different game.”
“Well, when you're the oldest cub, you get to choose the games. Let’s play hide n’ seek.”
“Eli, you count so you can practice your counting.”
“One tail, two tails, three tails, many tails… I hope I’ll be ready for school in the fall.” Pant, pant, I need to catch my breath. I’ve never been in this clearing before. Dad and I should come hunting here. You can see for miles! Uh oh, where is everyone? Oh well, they’ll catch up with me. Oldest is fastest. Plus I like to be alone for once. Hey, what’s that? It’s sure moving fast! I’ve never seen an animal that fast. I wonder if I can hunt this by myself… Dad would really be proud of me! There’s a bunch of animals inside of that thing. Funny! They’re all standing on their back legs. Never seen that before! What’s up with all those sticks and vines they’re holding? Boom! I’m so sleepy…

Ouch! My head! What’s up with this low roof? In our cave I can stretch all I want and not get hurt. Why is this thing so dark and bouncy? I’m hurting at both ends! I can’t get out! “Roar!” I can’t get out, I can’t see anything, might as well take a nap. “Stop messing with me! You know I don’t like to wake up like this!” Ohh! It’s those animals with the sticks! I have to admit my brothers were really not that pesky… good thing all that moving and shaking is all over. Oh? I can walk out of here? This is a small jungle! Hey! There’s a tiger in that corner that is the same size as me! “Hi, I’m Benzel, where am I?”
“Hi, I’m Grundy, and this is your new home.”
“My new home? I want to go to my home!”
“Sorry kid, you are here now.”
“Grundy, when did you get here?”
“I got here a few moons ago. Maybe like 17 or so.”
“Grundy, do you think I will ever get back to my family?”
“I don't know”...

I might as well look for some food. Ummm… this is not bad. Although Dad’s meat was better, and I didn't really mind sharing with everybody. Not really. “Hey Benzel, there’s more over here.”
“Thanks Grundy, So tell me more about this place.”
“This is the African Wildlife Research Center.”
“So what do they do?”
“Uh, research.”
“What’s research?”
“It’s figuring out things about us.”
“What are those animals standing on their hind legs?”
“They’re animals that walk on their hind legs. They control everything. They’re called humans”
Grundy yawns, “I’m getting tired, Benzel.”
“OK let’s go to the cave to get some rest.”

I’m so tired and I don’t know how I woke up. Wait? Who’s talking? I think it's those humans Grundy was talking about.
“Grundy! Grundy! Wake up! It's those humans that you were talking about. I think they were talking about doing, I don't know some tests, we have to do something...and fast I don't have a good feeling about these humans and their tests.”
“Shh, go back to sleep Benzel. It was probably just a dream.”
“No Grundy this was NOT a dream. We have to do something”
“Well Grundy’s asleep, so I might as well do something.” As I walked towards the door, I could hear footsteps coming closer and closer... And then it happened--the door swung open and this human came to me with white clothes and a thing covering his mouth…
“Hurry! hurry! Get the tiger…”
I was sitting there confused why... they picked me up and took me into this room, put me on a table, and got a small pointy thing and stuck it in my leg. Then I felt weird, like I was sleeping but awake still. They were talking and poking me with the pointy thing… I fell asleep and don’t... remember...anything…

I woke up lying right next to Grundy, my leg hurting.
“What, what happened?”
“Grundy, they took me and tested me and you didn’t believe me!”
“I’m so sorry Benzel that I didn’t believe you.”
“We have to do something!”

“Sir, we got the tests last night. The small tiger was awake, but the big one was not.”
“Good, good, now release him.”
“And Sir, what about the other one?”
“The other one stays a little longer. Do you know where to release the small one?”
“Yes, at the exact same place you found him, or else he will die.”

I was eating breakfast and then out of nowhere came the human who captured me. He had a box. He quickly ran towards me and picked me up and put me in the box.
“Grundy, help me!” I yelled, but no one answered. I saw Grundy through a hole in the box on the ground… Bye Grundy... I said softly as the human took me through the door. As we walked by the window, Grundy waved a slow, sad wave…

I wondered where the human was taking me. Home, or to some other place? I really hope it’s home. The human put me in the fast thing with round things on it. VROOM, VROOM… The thing shook and started moving. I looked through the hole and saw a field. The ride was not fun. It was weird. I was trying to imagine going back to my family, but kept thinking about my new friend, Grundy.

I was laying in the box when the thing stopped moving. I stood up and looked out the hole. Someone picked up the box! And it opened! I ran out toward my dad’s hunting field. I ran and ran and ran through the clearing, until I got to the edge of the jungle. With a quick glimpse behind me, I realized that nobody was following me. So I’m free. I’m really free. And I’m going home! Home to my big, loud, pesky family! I’ve been away from them for seven moons and I miss them something terrible. And even though I’m hungry, I will be sure to share even the last piece…

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