Zoo Story

My mother-in-law knew
a primatologist at the city Zoo
Agnes, a long-time friend who
had a long-term argument
with a professor from a rival department
orangutan vs bonobo

Agnes looked after an orangutan
she said was smarter than
any woman or man
you could mention
in fact, it was her contention
the orangutan was a genius, potentially

Her rival’s proposition?
with the authorities’ permission
a competition
between the two
an IQ test at Agnes’ zoo
finally settling
all the nonsense Agnes was peddling

They set up a test in the compound
a scattering of boxes on the ground
and hanging down
from the bars
a hand of bananas
was the first of the two to go

The professor stood there with his clipboard and timer
the bonobo wanted to climb up there
so he started piling the boxes higher
and in fifteen minutes
had the bananas in his digits
You see!
said the professor: ‘Superiority!’

The boxes were put back around the place
the bananas replaced
the professor stood waiting with a smile on his face
the orangutan strolled in
glanced at him
at a box
considering the banana paradox

The orangutan pointed straight at the professor
waggled his finger to invite him closer
climbed him like a human ladder
widened his eyes
grabbed the prize
Twenty seconds!
clapped Agnes – any questions?

Well – there’s one I’d liked to have asked
if so many long, slow years hadn’t passed
and the orangutan finally pointed his last
I don’t understand
why you didn’t take his clever, leathery hand
and lead him
To the edge of a jungle in Borneo, and free him

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