Swaying to the strains of the Endeka Elephant Band, Ute Orangutan was moved to shed a tear when she spoke about her maternal grandparents, Zanneke and Carlton Orangutan. The Orangs, who fled persecution in their native land, were among The Park’s first citizens.
“They settled here because they believed that, in The Park, they could build a better life,” she said. “I will always be grateful to them…and I will always feel a sense of responsibility to The Park.”
Such sentiments were not unique during the two-day celebration this Winter that marked the 25th anniversary of zoocracy in The Park.
For Jacinta Kri-Kri, the highlight of the occasion was the unveiling of the monument to Jor, The Park’s first leader and the founder of modern zoocracy. With her Kids in tow, the Kri-Kri made a dedication of her own, as she placed a wreath of rosemary at the foot of the marble statue.
“I want my Kids to learn Park history so they can understand why Jor is a hero to us,” she said, between bites of one of the many treats that were on offer at the festivities.
Park history was also on the mind of Sagar Hog-Deer, whose family emigrated from the foothills of the Himalayas six years ago. For Sagar, Park history means a solid record based on the principles of tolerance and the welcoming of all species — principles that, he feels, may be hard to maintain in the future.
“The Park is being assaulted from the outside and we are just beginning to see the effects of it,” he said, pointing to the upcoming census, talk of currency amalgamation, and looming political reforms as evidence of the erosion of Park values.
“We need to take a step back. We don’t need to change [things] if there isn’t a problem in the first place,” he emphasized.
While Hog-Deer sees no problem with the status quo, scores of Animals who attended the celebrations say they see the need for immediate changes in The Park.
“We’ve been at a standstill for years. Some aspects of Park life are downright archaic and, some, I might say…were [the result of] hare-brained schemes in the first place,” complained Mason L. Tortoise, head of SARG, the Small Animal Reform Group, which has called for sweeping changes in many Park policies.
Despite the political debate, Park Animals were up for the two days of merrymaking and were quick to declare the event a “roaring success.”
“I think it was a tribute to the power of Jor’s vision,” concluded Humphrey Hyrax, the festival’s organizer.