Tim slowly made his way across the park, watched in amazement by the cage of monkeys, too dumbfounded to speak.
He stopped by a sign, and studied it. He had no idea that the park was so big. Children’s pets area; Penguin Ice Park; Dolphin World; seals; elephants; insects; snakes. Where to begin? What were all these other animals like?
Tim felt very confused, so he sat down and ate a few leaves, leaning against the post. Finally, he decided that he would visit the elephants, since they were very big, and would therefore, perhaps, move slowly.
The sign to the elephant enclosure pointed along a path which led to a spacious, pleasant enclosure, with lots of trees and grass. A large and gentle-looking elephant stood by the fence, swinging her trunk meditatively.
Tim felt hopeful. He took the backpack off his back, pulled out the pad and pen, unscrewed the lid of the pen, then studied the sign on the edge of the enclosure.
He carefully copied the word ‘elephant’ in his neatest handwriting, and tentatively approached the cage.
“Ahem,” he coughed.
The elephant turned slowly on her large round feet and looked at him.
“Good morning,” she said politely.
“Good morning,” said Tim. “I wonder if you can help me. I am conducting a survey of animals in the park. I am looking for animals who like to do things slowly, so I can feel reassured that I am not the only one. Do you like to do things slowly?”
The elephant put her head on one side and thought.
“It is certainly true that I lead a quiet life. However, elephants also play a vital role in ecology. We tear up the undergrowth and foliage, making room for new plants to grow and bringing light and warmth into densely-packed vegetation.”
“Oh,” said the koala, disappointed, “that wasn’t quite what I had in mind. Thank you for your help, though.”
“Why don’t you go over to the reptile house?” suggested the elephant, “The snakes don’t do much all day.”
“Thank you,” said Tim, “I will.”