Chang frequently watched the animals in the zoo. It was always the same. The glorious beasts withered and died. Poor nutrition, the wrong environments, food and surfaces laden with germs, boredom, and a general lack of attention to detail did them in. In Hong Kong, zoos were more of a freak show than a way to preserve life. The caretakers were second rate animal scientists who would never make it to the big time of pharmaceutical laboratories.
Keeping his head low, he pushed his broom over the pedestrian paths to make sure they were clean for the well covered feet of the patrons, watching each animal succumb in turn. He wouldn't get involved in what he saw as an easily avoided tragedy. Chang wouldn't risk bringing more shame on his family name, feeling disgraced in his position in society as a lowly janitor. Taking a rag and spray cleaner from his cart, he started polishing the bars to the newly emptied enclosure.
Flowers bloomed bright near the bars and Chang breathed in their scent. They were sweet and heady, but a drier muskier scent mingled with them. He raised his eyes. A long, lean leg rose from the foliage. His eyes followed the awkward pattern of black and white fur until he met the animals eyes. It was an animal unlike anything he had ever seen before. Proud and majestic like the stallions he read about as a child, strong like the honored ox, a flowing mane like the lions before they became sickly, a creature powerful enough to instantly take his breath away.
Mesmerized, Chang stood still. The animal lowered its graceful snout until it brushed against his hand, a silent plea. Still, Chang stood. A battle that lasted well into eternity raged inside him, only a few moments to the observer, before he understood his greater purpose. Resolute, he rubbed the creatures snout making a pact to not look away this time.
Per Request: Zebra, Hong Kong, and Janitor