‘The New Zoo’ by Rikki Ducornet

The abandoned Bronx Zoo has been empty of animals since they were killed in the plagues, and now people have taken up residence in its many and varied enclosures. At first, there are squatters in the bear dens and young people splashing about in the otter pools, but soon newly feathered creatures and those with true or imaginary horns roam in tribes. This story takes us on a guided tour of some of the zoo’s new wonders, for example:

The Flatbush Entrance leads us into some of the most curious geological and libidinal areas of the park. Here the East River, always the scene of adventures and miracles, has forced a passage through the granite barrier of Greater Old Manhattan, creating a series of falls and revealing the grottoes of Grand Central Station.

Nothing in this zoo is what you’d expect, but it is teeming with life.

Collected in The Time Out Book of New York Stories, Penguin, 1997 and The Complete Butcher’s Tales, Dalkey Archive, 2000. Also available online here

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