The Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me

Born in 1957, caught in December 1957 in Sichuan, and moved to Peking Zoo in January 1958. The Austrian animal broker acquired Chi Chi in and brought the animal to Moscow Zoo. After a rest of a week the panda went on journey to Tierpark Berlin. By then Chi Chi had already been sold to a zoo in the United States, but the American government had ceased all trade with communist China for political reasons. Thus, Chi Chi was refused entry to the USA. Frankfurt Zoo provided a temporary home for the panda until it was decided to hire the animal out to European zoos for limited time. Next visit was Copenhagen Zoo, before Chi Chi arrived at London Zoo on 5 September 1958. Although Chi Chi’s visit was originally planned to last for only three weeks, it was decided to buy her. There were unsuccessful attempts to mate Chi Chi with Moscow Zoo‘s An An. Chi Chi died on 22 July 1972 and was mourned by the nation. A post mortem was conducted. Her remains, now a stuffed exhibit, sit in a glass case, at London’s Natural History Museum.[7]
The best thing that ever happened to me.
I don’t go out much anymore, the light hurts my eyes, my old bones ache – I am tired of the whoops, the shouts each time I appear – I stay inside. That fact is well known – a sign outside my enclosure warns the public against disappointment.
There is nothing to see here, not for you, not for me. I have lived in this concrete approximation of my home for 14 years – really there is nothing to see here, move on, move on.
It is summer, or what they call summer, sticky, hot, the smell of fatty food in the air – these are the only summers I remember clearly, but when I sit in the dark, my back against the wall, I can remember another time – a time of cool green, of the taste of fresh bamboo a vivid moment of crunch in my mouth. The memory teases me, not quite caught, not ready to be pinned down, examined, understood.
it’s gone quiet now – the constant drone of voices is over, all I can hear is the murmur of far away traffic and of course my own heart, not beating as strongly as it used to – a little hesitant now – a tiny pause between each beat, each breath.
The man stays, my breath is ragged now, each heartbeat an effort, the pauses longer between each gasp – the jungle thread begins to pull me back. I feel the dappled sunlight against my fur.
I am going home.

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