I found Snout standing in a fairly open area where a number of young aspen and a carpeting of bushes grew. He was chewing the cud, but he had seen me, his big ears, erect and stationary, aimed in my direction, his bulbous nose raised and testing the breeze for scent. The field glasses brought him close to me across the intervening quarter of a mile, showing that he was in peak condition, fat, glossy, and clear-eyed.

He was standing broadside on, but looking at me, his stance showing that he was alert and ready to run, but not yet sufficiently alarmed to escape at a full gallop. I began to whistle and to slowly walk toward him. At the sound, he turned his body and pawed the ground with one front hoof, sending several cascades of snow backward; then he moved, coming to meet me with his head high and his long legs pacing casually, an unhurried gait that covered a lot of ground with each jackknife stride.

He advanced a good five yards for each one I traversed, a superbly coordinated, fluidly graceful animal endowed with a wild and rugged majesty that was as inspiring as it was intimidating. Against a background of pristine snow, green trees, and cerulean sky, his great body, each muscle seen to ripple smoothly as he moved, shone like burnished copper. Twin jets of milky steam emerged from his nostrils and trailed over his head; some of the exhaled moisture adhered to the edges of his ears and froze instantly, sugar-small particles of ie that trapped sunlight and glittered like minute diamonds.

I stopped, allowing Snout the opportunity to meet me on ground of his own choosing. He was the host, I the visitor. It was only right that he should be shown such a courtesy; he needed to get my scent properly, and he needed time to recall my voice, to bring to the fore the misty memories of his association with me. I was speaking quietly and calmly as he reached my environs and stopped twenty paces away, sniffing audibly and actually curling his thick upper lip as he did so, his great head towering above mine and his large, limpid eyes searching my countenance. I held up a frozen beetroot; he tested its faint odor, put his ears in the relaxed position, and strode forward, quickly closing the gap that separated us.

“The Zoo That Never Was” (c) 1981 By R.D. Lawrence ISBN 0-03-056811-0

Designer: Susan Mitchell. Title page art: Bill Elliot

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