What I Learned at the Zoo

Illustrated tiger. "What I Learned at the Zoo."Once upon a time, there was a beautiful but dilapidated zoo in a large metropolitan city. It was in a state of despair, in dire need of renovation. The cages were rusted, the habitats for each species were too small. Animal advocates rallied for help.

Eventually, one of the wealthiest philanthropist families in the city decided to contribute the necessary funds needed for reconstruction. To complete the renovation, all the animals — tigers, lions, monkeys, and elephants — would have to be taken out of their habitats and housed in newly constructed, small cages.

Construction of the new zoo began and, slowly but surely, it was completed and a grand opening took place. The animals were introduced to their new habitats — way more spacious than their previous homes. Each cage was brought into its new space as the animals were carefully integrated into their new habitat. Slowly, each section of the zoo opened and everything began moving along.

But there was one exception — Charlie — a young tiger who was born in the cage. The four walls of steel were all he had ever known.

When the tiger cage was placed in its new habitat and the gates were sprung open, the three adult tigers leaped out — they energetically jumped over the bubbling streams and delighted to have rocks to climb on.

Charlie, though, cowered in fear of his new environment. Despite the others’ eagerness to explore their new small world, he remained in his cage, staring out past the gates. There he sat for days on end, unwilling to venture past the four walls of the cage.

The zookeepers — who were talented at dealing with animals — were mystified. How could they coax Charlie out into the new habitat?

They tried everything — first, they placed his food and water at a distance. Charlie ignored whatever was outside the immediate surroundings of his cage. Although he was eventually able to venture out to eat and drink, his discomfort with the new habitat was obvious — he would immediately retreat. It was clear that his home remained in the cage.

The zookeepers tried everything, but eventually, they made peace with Charlie — it was clear he was content to stay where he was. Finally, they gave up.

Of course, this story has an obvious lesson: We develop enduring patterns when we are young — and changing them sometimes feels impossible. Think about any habits you may have developed that no longer serve you.

What do you need to do to create change?

Posted by Judy Rabinor

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