One day I was walking along a busy street in front of the National Zoo in Washington, DC. Right at the zoo’s entrance, next to a bus stop, a beautiful, rare-looking chicken was wandering around, looking lost. I pondered this predicament, and decided to go in to the zoo to get them to rescue the poor animal.
The man at the information desk told me that others had told him already, but that there wasn’t anything to be done. “It’s not our chicken.” Stunned, I muttered that something had to be done. He said I could try calling the police.
I went back outside, aghast that a zoo person could be so heartless. I called the police. I admit to feeling a bit sheepish when I reported that there was a lost chicken wandering on the sidewalk. But the reluctant policeman told me he would dispatch a squad car.
I waited and waited, with every minute feeling less certain that the police would show up–he probably just told me that to get rid of me, I thought. But at last, a police car did indeed pull up. The officer just stayed inside, though. I gestured for him to roll down the window, and then said perhaps a bit too brightly: “Are you here for the chicken?”
His eyes got as big as saucers. He looked at me disbelievingly, and was clearly doing a mental assessment. No, he finally said. He wasn’t here for the chicken, and then he drove off.
I was so disheartened. What to do? I waited for an eternity, but finally, another police car drove up. The officer got out and heard my plaintive “Are YOU here for the chicken?”
Why yes, he said. I nearly hugged him, but thought that might not improve my already thin credibility. So I asked what he would do. He said most likely it was a rooster that had been used for fighting, illegally, and that it’s pretty common for the owner just to abandon them when they are no longer useful. He would take it to an animal rescue place and it would be given to someone who would take care of it.
I thanked him, and as I walked away I glanced back one last time at the beautiful bird with magnificent arching red tail feathers.