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I woke in my cramped cage and stretched as far as I could. The moonlight
streamed through the bars on my tight prison. I sighed heavily as the truck that
carried me bounced along the dark country road.
I drifted in and out of an uneasy sleep until we came to a stop.
The two men got out of the truck and stretched. They weíre dark skinned and one
carried a dart gun. They started talking to each other in Spanish.
I sighed again. They had just stolen me from a local zoo. I was a prized Bengal
tiger named Sheila. I had been sleeping soundly in my large and open terrain
that looked like the home I had grown up in if I hadnít been born in the zoo.
I was only about two years old and already I was a well loved animal at the
South Dakota Zoo. I guess these guys planned to sell me on the black market or
My mother had told me stories about men who steal tigers for money and greed. I
missed my mother and the home we shared.
A loud banging on the bars of my cage startled me. One of the men was banging
the butt of his gun across the bars of my cage. I hissed at him and he hissed
back, the smell of whiskey on his breath.
The other man came out of a run down store with bottles of whiskey. They got
back into the truck and we were off again.
Down the dark, bumpy road that led to nowhere and somewhere.
I circled above the long stretch of trees for miles and the highway that cut
right down the middle of it.
Humans thought they owned everything. They thought they could just cut down the
trees and pave roads and not hurt a thing.
I soared higher and flew toward the mountains in the north. A large, bald patch
of dirt was cut in the middle of the forest. Humans and their machines were
building homes for more humans in a forest that didnít belong to them.
I screeched in frustration. I tilted my wings to the left and soared away from
these terrible creatures.
I flew to a secluded area and sat on the branch of an oak.
I was a red-tailed hawk who answered to the name Nisha. I watched over the field
below me for any signs of movement while I preened my rust red tail feathers.
A stock of grass moved and I swooped down upon a young mouse. I scooped it up
and ate it on my way back to my nest.
My mate, Dagger, was keeping our three eggs warm while I hunted. I screeched a
welcome as I landed on a branch just above the nest.
He yawned and stretched his wings.
"I was worried you had left me here all by myself," he teased.
Dagger was a kidder, but I loved him all the same. We both fell silent as I
thought about what I had seen earlier.
"Nisha, do you think the humans will come this far?" he asked quietly.
I looked into his golden eyes with my yellow ones and gave him a truthful
"I donít know Dag, I really donít know."
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