The raptor’s eyes danced with black spots. Irritated, he growled and shook his head, trying to clear his vision.
The unknown humans on the other side of the fence were very distracting. Their noise especially.
“Look at its toes, Brad!”
“What’s it shaking its head for?”
“Prob’ly ’cause you stink so bad.”
“Dude, you’re the one who just came from football practice!”
Tap tap tap FLASH
Juvenile shrieks. Sub-adult chatterings. Adult mutterings. All caused anxiety.
Click FLASH click FLASH click FLASH
The raptor glared in annoyance, but only got another eyeful of flashing lights. His toe stubs throbbed with memory; threat displays rarely made the desired impression on humans.
The unknown humans moved on, directed by the young female already known to him. He looked on with relief.
As I lead my last group of the day to the next stop, I glance back at Kaksi and smile. It’s been less than a week since he arrived at Dinosaur Conservation & Rescue League’s Cypress Center. He’s already a star. I don’t think he likes the attention, though.
Visitors admire Kaksi’s dark-silver body, oohing and aahing over the streak of vibrant blue scales running from the top of his head to the tip of his tail. Then they exclaim about his missing sickle claws, talk about how they pity the poor thing, and take photo after photo. The bigger the crowd watching him and making noise, the more agitated Kaksi gets. That’s when I move the tour along.
Once the unknown humans moved away, taking their noise with them, the raptor relaxed. It was impossible to focus on feeding with a multitude of human eyes fixed on him. With the eyes came babel. The noise caused him anxiety. The longer it lasted, the more worried he became. Increasing crowds and noise had always preceded a fight.
There had been no fights in this place.
When he first arrived, the raptor had been puzzled. There was no roof above his head. No walls blocked his vision, and the harsh echoes which had always rebounded from those walls were absent. The other creatures he could see and scent were not terrified, as all in the previous place had been.
This place seemed different.
After finishing up the tour, I head back to Kaksi’s enclosure. As part of the animal enrichment staff, when I’m not on tour duty, I’m free to spend time with the animals; my purpose in spending time with them is to enrich their day-to-day captive lives. Thus, I’m Animal Enrichment Staff. Kaksi is my particular charge.
In the wild, a lack of fear toward humans would be dangerous, probably resulting in death for the overly bold animal. Here at DCRL’s Cypress Center, it’s better if we habituate the animals to human contact, since they’ll have it pretty much every day. They’re all non-releasable, for various reasons.
Building a relationship is fun for us AES, but the ‘fun’ aspect is not the important thing. The animal’s welfare, mental as well as physical, is the focus. Companionship is very important for the social dinosaurs. If they don’t have a companion of the same species, we might mix species, but more often we carefully offer human interaction.
Dinosaur-and-human relationships can be tricky. You have to be very aware of the animal’s behavior, and the mood it indicates. Sometimes they want your company, sometimes they don’t. So far, Kaksi seems comfortable when it’s just me outside his pen.
Xavier Nichols, animal rescuer, handler, and transporter, is standing outside Kaksi’s enclosure when I get there. I call out to him. “Hi, Mr. Nichols.”
He glances at me with a smile. “Hello, Ms. Holling.” Xavier's really nice; he always calls me by my last name, never just Rachel. He does the same to almost everyone.
Gesturing at the yard’s occupant, he asks, “Can you tell me his name?”
“Kaksi. It means -”
“The number two in Finnish,” he interrupts. “I remembered the meaning, just not the word. You said it’s because he’s missing both sickle claws, right?”
I shrug. “That, or the two claws he still has on each foot.”
Mr. Nichols glances at me again. “Would you say you named him after his disability?”
“I didn’t think of it that way. . . “ I purse my lips, pondering. “I guess I did.” The thought makes me uncomfortable. Do I only see an injury, and not a creature? I groan.
“Now I wish I could change Kaksi’s name, or have someone else pick it, or . . . something. It feels really negative since you said that.”
“No, that’s not what I mean. It doesn’t have to be negative.” He looks at Kaksi with a thoughtful expression. “I’m not criticizing the choice you made, but it does interest me. When we name animals, I think we often draw on our first impressions or perceptions of them. Sometimes consciously, sometimes subconsciously. Of course, every human, and every animal, is an individual, and as such perceives things uniquely.”
Frowning, I say, “I’m not sure I understand.”
“When you picked Kaksi’s name, you thought it fit him. I think your answer to my question proves there’s likely a deeper reason in your mind for the name fitting, not obvious on the surface. Perhaps in a way, it also signifies his second chance at life.”
“What do you mean?”
“A friend of mine found out about Kaksi, and I’m one of the guys who went to help get him out. He was used in an illegal fight ring.”
“Why would they desickle him for fights?”
“Desickling points to him having been a pet. People think they’re cute when they’re hatchlings. Some even get nearly full-term eggs so they can watch them hatch. Then they get them desickled, so they don’t scratch up the house like a cat. Once their pet reaches a certain size, the owners realize, ‘this thing can kill me, even without sickle claws,’ so they look for a way to get rid of it. Sometimes the animal ends up at a zoo or other legal attraction, but since it was probably acquired illegally, it’s best not to take it where the authorities can see. Kaksi was somehow acquired by a fight promoter.”
My stomach clenches as I look at the white scars criss-crossing Kaksi’s dark-silver hide.
“Without the sickles, Kaksi's owner probably would have gotten bigger bets against him, and gotten more money when Kaksi won. I don’t know how he managed it,” Mr. Nichols continues, “but he survived until now. He’ll be safe here. He has a second chance.”
The known male raised the now-familiar object to its face, and the raptor narrowed his eyes, prepared for the flash. None came.
As the known male walked away, the raptor found himself inordinately happy to have the known female’s solitary company. She never flashed lights at him.
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Ahh! Hello! How are you?? I love this!! It’s so good! You NAILED the perspectives. The rudeness of the people gawking at the raptor, the conversation between the two people, Rachel’s momentary regret at naming “her” raptor after his disability, the other person’s response, it was so beautifully crafted. I have no critiques. Amazing job, Guadalupe!!! :D
Hi Katie! Thanks for reading and commenting! Wow! I'm so happy you enjoyed it! This one was really fun to write. It still has the highest number of likes on any one story I've written. I didn't suspect it would get that much attention, since it was just my personal musings about names. I guess people liked my musings! I'm doing really well. How are you?
Lol, your musings are really insightful! I'm okay. I'm super stressed right now with life, but I'm sure things will let up in a bit. I haven't had as much time for writing as I wish I had.
I'm sorry you're dealing with stress right now, and don't have so much time to write. I'll pray for you. You know how you made a couple CYOAs? I'm working on one, too, set in my sci-fi world. I'm not going to put it in google docs slides, I'm just keeping it on paper. If you're interested in playing it, we can do it here in comments. Then it would also be kind of like a role play, and it wouldn't have to be all at once. Let me know!
I would love to! Let me know when you're ready! :) And I appreciate that!
Hi Katie! Actually, I ended up writing a CYOA set in my fantasy world, not my sci-fi. Here's the opening! As you walk across the room, a glowing orb appears in the air in front of you, and you stop short. It quickly grows, from a pinpoint, to the size of a gumball, to the size of a basketball. The still-expanding orb suddenly develops a hole in the middle, becoming a ring. The ring still glows white, but inside of it, you're starting to see other colors. When the ring is taller than you are and wider than your outstretched arms, it sto...
“pity the poor thing, and take photo,” like the people who love animals at the zoo so much they bang on the glass and yell at them. That really annoys me, I have to stop myself from telling off other people. “directed by the young female already known to him,” can it smell pheromones? How does it know she’s female? Her being the tour guide? Your next sentence answers that. I’m writing this as I read so you get the blow by blow. “It was impossible to focus on feeding with a multitude of human eyes fixed on him,” I feel like that sometimes. ...
Hey Graham, I’ve been meaning to get back to you. I wanted to formulate this reply thoughtfully. Thank you for your long comment. As you may have seen, I liked the result of a blow-by-blow so much that I started doing it as a general policy. I’m impressed that you stop yourself from confronting people at zoos; I’d probably say something. As far as how Kaksi knows that she’s female, I think animals are pretty good at figuring things out, including possibly telling male from female in other species. I can see how Xavier might seem anta...
I see this means a lot to you. I’ve never seen a big cat in a zoo that looked happy. They need larger enclosures, safari zones perhaps. I would want them all in the wild if poaching wasn’t still so rife across the world. It’s a tragedy that people can’t just enjoy their beauty in documentaries and photos so that they can live their lives. Humanity has overrun the planet. I hope that the widespread use of contraception globally can bring human population down to a point where we’re not hurting the world we need to survive. Animals don’t deser...
Hey, Just some critiquing: " it’s better if we habituate the animals to human contact, since they’ll have it pretty much every day." It doesn't need a comma. " Do I only see an injury, and not a creature?" Also, no comma. “Why would they desickle him for fights?” Spelled incorrect (de sickle) "Then they get them desickled," Also here " it’s best not to take it where the authorities can see." Proper Grammer would be "See it" "My stomach clenches as I look at the white scars criss-crossing." Correct form: (crisscrossing) There was ...
Thank you very much for the critique! This story has already locked because I entered it in the contest and it was approved, so unfortunately, I cannot change anything now. I will definitely keep these things in mind for the next story I write. I will be very grateful if you have time to keep critiquing my stories as I write them. I was so excited when I logged onto Reedsy and saw your comments and support! Thank you so much! It made me so happy that you took the time to critique my stories!
Aww you're welcome!! And yes!!! I would love to keep critiquing!!
The insensitivity of the human gawkers towards poor Kaksi was communicated beautifully. I also found the different points of view interesting. Engaging story!
Thank you for reading, Martha! I'm glad the idea was clear. I really enjoy writing Kaksi's point of view, in this story and my previous DCRL story.
This is really good. I love the idea of having points of view of animals or aliens,etc to give us a different perspective on humanity. I just picked up a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro written form the viewpoint of an AI toy, the world is so crazy these days its best to look at it from outside maybe. If you want to extend this story, maybe you could have a conflict or an adventure the dinosaurs need to resolve or a larger goal the human/dinosaur are aiming toward. but not sure about #1 on this list works for dinosaurs but maybe it does haha. ht...
Hi Scott. I'm glad you enjoyed the raptor POV, it's my favorite part to write. I like reading and writing animal/other creature POVs, too, and am currently working on a sci-fi story which includes an alien POV. Thank you for the link!
I did enjoy reading through this story! It is cool to see the series continued. I think this unique, as always, with dinosaurs on display. The subconscious decisions on naming were nice, too. I did write some critiques, and I hope they come across as constructive. The raptor’s eyes danced with black spots. [Irritated,] he growled and shook his head, trying to clear his vision. -You don't need the word 'irritated' here, since we can tell the raptor is so as he growls and shakes his head. I would watch for writing lines like: 'The raptor gl...
Hi Alex. Thank you for the feedback! It is very constructive. This story was approved by the time I got your critiques, so I was unable to change anything. You are right about my showing rather than telling, that could use some work, and I will now be watching for it. I didn't realize that the name Kaksi was not yet linked to the dinosaur. Thank you for pointing out the ambiguity. I will also keep in mind to add descriptions of the environment. I pray this finds you well.
I liked it. Dinosaurs on display is a neat topic, even if Jurassic Park had some ideas there, and giving the raptor a POV reminded me of a book I read long ago called Raptor Red. The musings about where names come from are interesting too. There's something to that, because sometimes we'll just *feel* a name fits without really knowing why.
Hi Michał, I'm glad you enjoyed this. If you're interested in more, this is the third story I've written for my DCRL series. #1 is Tour Guide, and #2 is New Arrival. Thank you for the book suggestion. Robert T. Bakker's book Raptor Red has been on my reading list since last year. I hope to read it soon.
Wow - nice!
Nice story I loved reading it and the title was great. let me know when the next part comes out :))
Thank you! Will do!
This is nice, the title was InTeReStInG, so I HAD TO read it. Will read more of this series soon enough
Hi Dhwani! Thank you for reading, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I like the title, too!
This is the third installment in my DCRL series. Feedback and critiques are much appreciated.