Lay the Foundations

It was about a month after the arrival of the Animains on Earth. President Vogel had talked with most of the other world leaders in the United Nations building after introducing them to Admiral Offey and some of her crew, as well as showing off a few choice animals from the Oasis. It was surprising how many countries were interested in going along with this plan after they were reassured of Offey's good intentions. The leaders of Canada, Mexico, and the whole of Central and South America gave their support quickly, though there was some talk about land developers being rather against it, thinking that there were human needs that were much more important, and better, than the needs of the world's animals and biomes. The European Union swiftly backed up the Animains too, and the London Zoo in Great Britain offered their direct assistance if the Animains were willing, which they inevitably were. And Australia and New Zealand were mostly for the idea, although they too warned that there might be people that would fight against this project.

As for Africa and Asia, the greatest controversy came from those two continents. There were countless people within Africa, and everywhere from the Middle East to Indonesia, that claimed they "needed" to hunt animals either for bushmeat or for man-made zoos, or who "needed" to cut down rainforests and destroy other landscapes for more cities, human homes, palm oil plantations, and there were even people who wanted to keep up certain illegal pet trades, like that of apes and monkeys. Offey soon learned that her greatest enemies might be poachers and their hired assailants, because they had murdered a few humans who had tried to stop them from destroying wildlife, such as primatologist Dian Fossey.

"Any new idea is bound to be controversial, and gain its instigators and allies their share of enemies," Offey had said to this. "We came in peace, and we hope to leave in peace, too, but if some of the humans become violently rebellious, we have our weapons to use to defend our project as well as ourselves. You have my word that we have no intention of conquering the planet, but if some humans rise up against us, we are capable of resorting to violence, and to us, defense is more effective if its mixed with more than a little offense."

"Very well then," said the head of the U.N., "Starting in two days, you have our permission to start building an Animal Kingdom all over the Earth like that portrayed in Walt Disney World. How long do you predict this project will take, may I ask?"

"The Oasis is a very large ship, with several million dedicated men and women ready to construct the kingdom," said Admiral Offey, "And our own home world took five Earth years to finish the job of preparing it for the non-sentient life forms' new home, and Earth is smaller than our own planet. So I estimate that if nothing goes seriously wrong, it should take approximately two to three of your Earth years to make enough progress that we can call the project almost finished."

"Very good," the U.N. head said agreeably. "Where shall this project begin, incidentally?"

"In America," Offey answered, "Because it's one of the most influential and powerful nations in the world, and its Founding Fathers built its government with the best of intentions when it comes to the freedom of the people. The first step will be to lay the foundations for the sanctuaries of the animals from all around the world, and we thought that the locations of America's public zoos would be a good place to start, as well as improving on the beauty and recreation of our model, Disney's Animal Kingdom."

"So be it," the U.N. agreed. "In two days, the Animains may begin their work, and those people who are trustworthy around animals have the option of helping out in any way they can."

Two days later, various workmen from the Oasis came down in large, organic shuttles, ready to do their work. They elected to make the great San Diego Zoo their first test site, because it's one of the largest and grandest public zoos in the United States. An Animain foreman by the name of Jos Reynard looked over the zoo grounds, and also examined photos, blueprints, and printed text about the Animal Kingdom in Orlando.

"First of all," he said to the zoo director and some of the other workers and zookeepers, "it's all wrong for an animal home to have so much concrete, metal and plastic covering it, making it seem too much like an urban city. Now such things are just fine for big cities, but not for the habitats of animals. We need to lay down some grass, and not just the type that grows in North America, but on other continents, too. We'll also need to terraform the exhibits a bit, making them feel like real biomes for the animals, rather than artificial display cases. And we must still make it possible, in all fairness to you humans, to observe and enjoy the animals, and perhaps even learn to interact with them. The point of this project is to bring a little bit of every living part of the world to every willing part of the world, so you can all get in touch with the countless remaining beasts and birds of the world the way zoologist pioneers like Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey did in Africa."

The zoo director nodded. "And how do you propose to do that?" he asked.

"Our biotechnology, as well as our Vassér, makes it possible for us to carry prototype organisms from their native lands a very long distance to be brought to the appropriate Animal Kingdom here in America, or any other part of the world. Then, the biotechnology and Vassér also make us able to use those prototype samples of the animals' biomes and ecosystems and duplicate them into even more of that thing, as much as is needed, in fact."

"Is that like cloning, or something?" asked a zookeeper.

"Not exactly," said Reynard, "Cloning means you're using its DNA to create a new copy of it asexually. But in our case, the Vassér breathes life back into the uprooted plant, or whatever we're using, and makes it grow new children of its own kind, only at a slightly faster rate than normal, though we have been careful not to let it get too fast."

"Fascinating," said the director, "Just think what sorts of natural exhibits we could make with this biotechnology of yours, that is, if you let us use some of it, of course."

"If you remain true to your word that most of you won't rebel against us, we may consider letting you have some of it to experiment with," Reynard replied.

And so it began. Over the next few weeks, the Animain workmen and women brought in "prototypes" of various plants and other objects that made up natural landscapes and ecosystems of the animals traditionally kept at the zoo, and they began to reshape the zoo grounds into an Animal Kingdom-like place. New, more life-like exhibits were made for the aviaries, the monkey forests, Panda Trek, Polar Bear Plunge, Elephant Odyssey, Absolutely Apes, Tiger River, and all the rest. As they did this, they took good, gentle care of the animals, protecting them in their biologically built temporary homes, and as everything was finished, the animals were re-introduced to their newly renovated home.

To make it feel like Disney's Animal Kingdom, they made several general zones for the zoo. They were divided into Avian Island, the River of Life (which surrounded Avian Island), Africa, Asia, Australia, Arctic, the Jungle Yard, the Anima's Planet Watch, and Endangered U.S.A. The River of Life introduced visitors to the park and was frequented by waterfowl ranging from black swans to yellow-billed teals, as well as many different freshwater fish. The Aviary was the home of most of the other birds at the zoo, but they had free reign to fly, and they all were in the same giant cage, whose bars were almost invisible. Africa, Asia, Australia, and Arctic had their appropriate animals from their real locations, although Arctic also had Antarctic animals like penguins. They showed animals very realistically and displayed the boundary between people and animals, as well as the need for environmental consciousness. The Jungle Yard was a special section for primates and some of their neighbors, where people could see for themselves the sorts of things they only saw before in videos, news reports, and books: the intelligent behavior and actions of altruistic and selfish monkeys and apes alike, as was previously displayed in labs. Anima's Planet Watch was a way for people to get personally involved with some of the tamer wild animals, and was especially going to be popular with children, and the Endangered U.S.A. section displayed with animatronics and 3-D movies the consequences of living in a world without so many of Earth's exotic, and even ordinary, animals.

It would be tedious to name every little new detail to the new San Diego Animal Kingdom, as it was called, but here are some examples of animals, rides, and other things in the different zones. Evidently, birds of almost all types (excluding some of the colder climate birds like penguins and puffins) were in the Aviary, but it also housed a mini Nútural seedling the Animains had introduced to the Earth to give the birds something to take joy in. The aliens assured the humans that Núturals grew fast when young, but slowed down after they were fully-grown. A ride called Harambe Journey (named after Harambe in Disney's Animal Kingdom) displayed crocodiles, pygmy hippos, African elephants, peafowl, some African insects like the dung beetle, the African lion, and lots more during a 20-minute ride, while the Digit forest trail showed off missing cockroaches, more dung beetles, pancake tortoises, mandrills, gorillas, bonobos, and African lions again. Asia displayed the Malayan sun bear, Malayan tigers, Malayan tapirs, giant pandas, and more. Australia obviously showed outback animals like wombats, wallabies, kookaburras, koalas, and Tasmanian devils, and retained its nickname, "Koalafornia." Some of the same kinds of African and Asian animals from Disney's Animal Kingdom were also brought in to supplement the growing population of creatures. The Arctic area was small in quantity of polar bears and penguins, but gave them plenty of walking space on the ice and snow. And Endangered U.S.A. had features similar to Dinoland U.S.A. in Orlando, like a few wild rides showing the dangers of animal extinction, a restaurant that refused to serve any meat from endangered animals, and a 3-D movie about ways that man and woman could conserve plants and animals for generations to come. Finally, it must be said that the Jungle Yard had a small roller coaster ride called Monkian Around, which simulated the speed and movements of a monkey or an orangutan swinging through the trees.

Anyway, as this work was being finished on the prototype Animal Kingdom made by aliens, the zoo director and First Officer Nuws observed the job so far.

"It will take another week or so to get everything up and running," she said, "But it looks so far that our first attempt is a success."

"We'll soon see," said the director thoughtfully, "When Disneyland was first opened, nothing worked at all. And even though it eventually did, it serves as a cautionary tale for us Americans."

"I will admit, that could happen," said Nuws, "But we have a better handle on our advanced technology that many Earthlings have on theirs. I think at least the majority of it will work, and if it's an overall success, we can set about making more of these Animal Kingdom sanctuaries for animals and humans to share."

"We can all hope for the best," said the director, looking at the nearly finished San Diego Animal Kingdom.