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Chapter 34
Father said, "We'll sail like Columbus!""He was hoping to find India," I pointed out sullenly.
We sold the zoo, lock, stock and barrel. To a new country,a new life. Besides assuring our collection of a happy future,the transaction would pay for our immigration and leave uswith a good sum to make a fresh start in Canada (thoughnow, when I think of it, the sum is laughable – how blindedwe are by money). We could have sold our animals to zoos inIndia, but American zoos were willing to pay higher prices.
CITES, the Convention on International Trade in EndangeredSpecies, had just come into effect, and the window on thetrading of captured wild animals had slammed shut. The futureof zoos would now lie with other zoos. The Pondicherry Zooclosed shop at just the right time. There was a scramble tobuy our animals. The final buyers were a number of zoos,mainly the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago and the soon-to-openMinnesota Zoo, but odd animals were going to Los Angeles,Louisville, Oklahoma City and Cincinnati.
And two animals were being shipped to the Canada Zoo.
That's how Ravi and I felt. We did not want to go. We didnot want to live in a country of gale-force winds andminus-two-hundred-degree winters. Canada was not on thecricket map. Departure was made easier – as far as getting usused to the idea – by the time it took for all the pre-departurepreparations. It took well over a year. I don't mean for us. Imean for the animals. Considering that animals dispense withclothes, footwear, linen, furniture, kitchenware, toiletries; thatnationality means nothing to them; that they care not a jot forpassports, money, employment prospects, schools, cost ofhousing, healthcare facilities – considering, in short, theirlightness of being, it's amazing how hard it is to move them.
Moving a zoo is like moving a city.
The paperwork was colossal. Litres of water used up in thewetting of stamps. Dear Mr. So-and-so written hundreds oftimes. Offers made. Sighs heard. Doubts expressed. Hagglinggone through. Decisions sent higher up for approval. Pricesagreed upon. Deals clinched. Dotted lines signed. Congratulationsgiven. Certificates of origin sought. Certificates of health sought.
Export permits sought. Import permits sought. Quarantineregulations clarified. Transportation organized. A fortune spenton telephone calls. It's a joke in the zoo business, a wearyjoke, that the paperwork involved in trading............
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