I am one of those sleek, reasonably contented leopards that you see in modern, enlightened zoos.
I am not exactly caged in. My sleeping quarters are warm and comfortable. The outdoor exhibit comprises many acres of woods and fields over which I am free to roam. If I see another animal coming my way, I give it wide berth. We leopards are a solitary species. My range used to be much larger, though. I traveled regularly in search of food, and sometimes even went hundreds of miles to visit other leopards.
Every evening, my keepers leave food outside my door. We must never be in the same space, because I am a danger to them and they to me. But, like I said, I am reasonably contented. I don’t have to worry about poachers setting traps, or hyenas stealing my kills. And now that the public isn’t allowed to visit, I am not bothered by their inane comments about my spots.
I spend a lot of time grooming myself, getting rid of pollen and dead leaves, and hunting for ticks. I take naps. I force myself to chew my food thoroughly, to make mealtimes last longer. Every day I roar over the ether at other leopards I used to know, but their voices break up in the distance, and it’s hard to know what they’re saying. Occasionally I make marks on tree trunks with my claws.
I look at the sky. I smell the earth. I watch the sunset and wait for the keeper who brings the food. Did I say that I am reasonably contented? We leopards are a solitary species.*
*In case you find this confusing: the retirement community where I live has prudently closed the campus. No visitors may come in, no residents may go out.