Penguins’ Progress

“Hey Panda!”

Foster’s voice came from across the room. “Did you ever wonder what it’s like in the zoo?” “Oh, I don’t know,” I responded lazily. “I guess I’ve never really thought about it before. Why?”panda stuck between chairsFoster jumped up onto my chair, knocking me to the floor in the process. “Well,” he began as if nothing had happened. “I was thinking about the penguins we met in the Swiss Alps. When we dropped them off at the zoo we really didn’t get a chance to see very many animals. Some of our relatives might live there.”panda in chair 3“I guess you’re right,” I said as I struggled to get back on the chair. “So should we go back?”foster roaring“Rawrr!” Foster roared, as I landed back on the floor. “Do I sound like a fierce tiger?” “Dude!” I said as I hit the floor. “Warn me before you do that, will you?” “I’m sorry, Buddy,” Foster replied after he had helped me back onto the chair.  “Let’s take a little nap and we’ll talk when we wake up.”terrific tigersWhen we woke up, it appeared that Mom wasn’t home, so we decided to go online and look up the San Diego zoo. (That’s the zoo where Mom’s English learner class adopted the panda in 2005, so we figured that would be a good place to start.) “Wow!” Foster exclaimed. “It looks like some of my big cat relatives do live there!” “Well let’s go then,” I replied. “Come on, I have an idea!”panda driving tunnel“Look what I discovered!” I announced, jumping onto the top of our blue and black play tunnel. “One day Mom put me here to see what you would do and I got this idea. I bet this would fly! What do you think?”playing in tunnel“Umm, I don’t know,” Foster replied. I think there’s more chance of falling out of this one.” “I guess you’re right,” I conceded. “There’s always an element of risk.”coming into sd aWe decided it would be safer to take our regular travel tunnel. It didn’t take long to get there, so we figured San Diego must be closer to Fresno than the Swiss Alps. “Do you know where the zoo is?” I asked as we neared the city. Foster thought for a minute. “Actually…no,” he said. discussion with elephants bThe next thing I remember was hearing Foster’s voice talking to what I could only assume were elephants. We know some elephants from our trips to Africa and India, and their voices are very easy to identify. “Wow, where did you come from?” one of them was asking. “Fresno,” Foster replied. “That’s my friend Panda over there. I think he might have a concussion.”talking b“No, I was just asleep,” I responded quickly, jumping up to join them. (To be honest I think I’m immune to concussions after living this long with Foster, but I decided not to mention that.)  The elephants expressed relief that I was okay. “Do you know where we can find the big cats and the pandas?” Foster inquired. “We want to visit our relatives.”on sky tramThe elephants advised us to take the Skyfari Tram. “It’s the best way to see the park,” they said knowingly. It was only $4 to board the tram, and the view was exhilarating. Foster was a bit nervous. “Dude, why do you always bring me on these things?” he asked. I laughed. “No worries!” I replied encouragingly. “It’s perfectly safe!” Foster disagreed. “For you, maybe,” he said. “You’re filled with stuffing. If I fall out I’m toast!” Toast actually sounded good right now, I thought, realizing that I was getting hungry.lunch 2 bAs soon as we got off the Skyfari Tram we found a really cool outdoor cafe. After a delicious snack we were ready to go in search of the big cats and pandas. seeing mouse bAs we wandered through the park we ran into some really nice animals. The ground squirrels were especially helpful in giving directions. “The big cats?” the head ground squirrel said cheerfully. “We never go over there, but you’ll find them if you keep going toward the right.” “Thanks!” we replied in unison, and continued on our panda 2I was amazed to learn that there is such thing as a red panda! I had never heard of red pandas, but Foster said he had read something online about them. The one we met eyed us warily at first. “We’re on our way to find the big cats and the regular pandas.” I explained in answer to his inquiry. “Oh, in that case,” our new friend replied, “just keep going straight. They should be just past the penguin exhibit.” We thanked him and headed in the direction of the penguins.penguin glass bWhen we got to the penguins, we were in for a great surprise. We immediately recognized our penguin friends from the Swiss Alps inside the penguin enclosure!  “Hey guys!” we called, tapping on the thick glass that separated us from them. “Remember us?” The penguins were delighted to see us. “How could we forget?” one of them said, motioning for us to jump into the enclosure. “If it weren’t for you, we would still be on our way to the North Pole!”foster looking at penguin 2“Yeah, that would have been a disaster,” Foster remarked, looking up at them. “Especially since you live at the South Pole!” The penguins laughed good-naturedly. “We’re sure glad you guys got us back on the right track. It’s great to see you again!”panda in water and foster 2The penguins invited us to go for a swim with them in their enclosure. I jumped right in, but Foster decided to just watch. “So how did you guys get here from Switzerland?” he asked from the water’s edge. glacier express“Well,” one of them began. “Remember when you guys took us on the train to the Basel Zoo? We stayed there for a few days, but then the zookeepers found out we weren’t their regular penguins. We tried to explain, but they kicked us out anyway.” one penguin behind b“Aw, man!” I exclaimed, shaking my head. “That wasn’t very nice!” The penguins nodded. “It wasn’t,” one of them agreed. “We had no choice but to wander through the streets of Basel. Then we suddenly realized we had gotten mixed up with a children’s animal parade!”  Foster looked thoughtful. “That sounds fun,” he said. “I like little kids. What happened next?”penguin meeting at plane b“The dad of one of the kids was a pilot, and he told us he was getting ready to leave for the US the next day. We asked if we could go with him and he was nice enough to drop us off in Atlanta.” atlanta zoo sign“Wow,” Foster said, impressed. “I didn’t know there was a zoo in Atlanta!” The penguins laughed heartily. “There is a cool penguin exhibit at the Atlanta Aquarium,” they replied. “We managed to sneak in and stay there for a couple of days.” “So,” I ventured, “you guys have basically been staying at different zoos like they were bed and breakfast hotels?”penguin crossing“That about sums it up,” the main penguin said. “Now we just have to get to the South Pole. Or at the very least, New Zealand. We saw a picture in a magazine and it looks like they have penguins there.” About this time Foster and I were getting hungry again, so we invited the penguins to go with us to the cafe where we had eaten lunch earlier.penguins at lunch b“You know,” Foster said as we waited for our food to arrive. “I think you should stick to your original plan and go to the South Pole.” I agreed. We were pretty sure they’d have to cross the Atlantic again to get to New Zealand. “You can get from here to Argentina without crossing any more oceans,” I added. “Once you make it to Tierra del Fuego you should have it made.”walking with penguins abAfter we finished our meal, the penguins had to get back. “It will be feeding time soon,” they explained as we walked toward their enclosure together. “And if we don’t look hungry the zookeepers might get suspicious.” One of the penguins sighed. “I can’t eat another bite,” he said. “I’m stuffed!” “Me too,” I replied, and I thought  Foster looked at me funny. curtain 2

Background photos for this story are from, a royalty-free photo site, with the exception of the Skyfari Tram and the restaurant, which came from the San Diego Zoo website.

13 thoughts on “Penguins’ Progress

  1. Charlee: “Wow, the zoo sure looks like fun! I wonder why Mama and Dada never take us there. They have memberships, they could sneak us in.”
    Chaplin: “Well, you know. Once the tourists got a load of two beautiful cats like us, they would stop being willing to pay to see lions and cheetahs and tigers and stuff.”

    1. Foster: Yes that’s probably why they haven’t taken you there! We cats would truly upstage all the other animals!🐱
      Panda: I guess you could sneak out and go there undercover. You could probably hide out in the panda enclosure! 🐼

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