We walked by the snake building over towards the monkey area. It was early morning and the chimpanzees were listless at best. By now my son was holding the golf ball, his fingers worrying over the divots as he gazed sadly at the chimps in the cage.
He must have been concentrating hard, because his fingers loosened their grip and the ball rolled down the drainage ditch toward the cage. Quicker than you could say, “Peter Rabbit,” the juvenile chimp leapt down from his perch and grabbed the golf ball.
The juvenile stared at the golf ball, his fingers worked over the divots. He mouthed the golf ball and then tried cracking it. The parents wanted in on the fun, but they couldn’t catch him.
I looked around for a zoo keeper, and realized that the flurry of primate activity was drawing a crowd. My son looked at me.
“They’re not gonna be giving my golf ball back, are they?”
“Gee, it doesn’t look that way…”
A zoo keeper came and tried to exchange the golf ball for a banana. No deal. Monkey chow? The juvenile rolled his lips back in a smile and shook his head vigorously, “No.”
Finally, an older keeper came over with some yogurt, and the golf ball was dropped.
“Show’s over,” said the younger zoo keeper.
It sure was. The chimpanzees went sullenly back to their stupor and my son and I wondered if the old zoo keeper would let the young chimp play after closing time.