It was to be just another ordinary day for Janice Cooper, resident biologist and animal enthusiast at Hancock Memorial Zoological Center in Clearwater, Florida, but when mother fate has her way with this town, well, let’s just say that she really goes balls to the wall…that is, if you don’t mind pardoning the gender-specific reference for enthusiasm and all…

No one predicted what had happened that very morning…well, as far as we could tell, but then again, Miss Cleo was out of town on one of her gambling expeditions that week and we weren’t able to check in with her before going to print. Nonetheless it’s a long shot to even admit that anyone would’ve foreseen that fateful morning when a young Bobby McFlayden would opt to forgo his pledge to the animal kingdom in an attempt to “look cool,” as the story goes, in front of his friends at school. Also, it’s equally difficult to picture where one might even be able to smuggle an average size monkey on the human body without much notice from those who were previously regarded as “trained security professionals,” but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Submitted for your consideration is exhibit A – one layout for the primate section of Hancock Memorial Zoo. Keeping in mind that said Zoological Center prefers to focus on native wildlife and monkeys to Florida are anything but, the monkey den – or so it is referred – consists of only five individual monkey apartments, if you will, in addition to one larger monkey community living space which is shared amongst the five residents of Monkey Town. While it could also be noted that Monkey Town offers a variety of eating establishments and nightlife entertainment, it isn’t exactly pertinent to today’s story and thus will be left at that. All in the same, however, those five monkey apartments is where you might find the zoo’s prized chimpanzees on any given evening after the park closes and that’s exactly where a young Bobby McFlayden went for his ticket to fame the evening before Janice Cooper’s workday from hell.

As a side note, this might be a great time for one to mention that chimpanzees technically belong to the ape family and have little resemblance to monkeys, however for the most part the kinds of people who pay visit to Monkey Town at Hancock Memorial don’t really have such an eye for detail and for the record, Monkey Town seems to flow off the tongue better than Ape Town, anyways…

You see, in an effort to bring things up to speed a little more quickly, young Bobby spent a great deal of his time after school at the zoo as part of a project coordinated by his biology teacher to help keep the boy out of trouble…but little did he know that Bobby’s curious mind would eventually get the best of him, after having been assigned to help keep Monkey Town clean from all of the nonsense that not-so-ecologically minded park guests might throw into the cages. As Bobby’s project progressed and he became more comfortable with the animals himself, so did the zoo’s staff with Bobby and soon they came to a plateau where Bobby was given free reign of Monkey Town so that the paid staff members assigned to the area could focus on more important tasks such as dozing off for hours on end and hitting on the teenage girls at the concession stand. Bobby didn’t mind the laziness on their part because it gave him a chance to get closer to his friends, the animals, until that one fateful night when he decided to take one of his friends out for a night on the town!

Now for those of you who might happen to be wondering at this point how exactly a young boy might smuggle an average-sized chimpanzee out into the real world, you might picture in your mind that while said monkey (ape) probably wouldn’t fit all too well underneath the boy’s shirt or even inside his pants, despite how low most tend to wear them these days, your average-sized school backpack would actually do quite nicely for smuggling your average-sized chimpanzee with still enough room leftover for some pudding cups and a can or two of soda, and thus on that very evening as Bobby’s homework assignments took up residence in an upscale apartment in Monkey Town, former resident Bongo the Excellent prepared himself for his first taste at life outside of the plush, artificial jungle that he had previously called home.

And the operation, in fact, went surprisingly smooth, considering the fact that the guards on duty that particular night didn’t even stop to question why a young Bobby McFlayden might be visiting the zoo at such wee hours of the night, let alone why his backpack was wiggling back and forth like it had a claustrophobic monkey in it or something! But we mustn’t talk ill of the security personnel at Hancock Memorial, who were otherwise quite wrapped up in what appeared to be an extraordinarily intense game of backgammon, so let’s just give the guys a break, eh?

But you know what? The funny thing about a situation such as this happening is that when young Bobby’s history teacher noticed the boy sneaking bananas into his backpack posthaste, only to be later returned with peels just as fast as he could swap them, she scored a point for the Clearwater Community School System by proving that the teaching staff at Bobby’s school was not so blind as to fail in noticing that the boy had, in fact, brought a monkey to school with him. Of course, the truth would’ve been made public next period anyways, when he had been planning on sharing Bongo for show and tell, but instead Bongo’s trip to school was cut a little short as resident biologist and animal enthusiast Janice Cooper left her lunch at the zoo early to go pick up the chimpanzee from school. Surprisingly no fits of any kind were thrown, as one might have expected after being subjected to such films as Dunsten Checks In and George of the Jungle, but then again, that’s the media for you…

In the end, young Bobby was asked only that he refrain from taking his work home with him in the future, and it was noticed that a tad more supervision might be necessary over at Monkey Town…at least for a while. All in a day’s work for Miss Cooper, really, whom although we didn’t get as much of a chance to introduce in this story as we would’ve liked, would surely have gotten along with everyone just dandy once you’d all gotten past the “fecal smell” that tends to emanate from most zoological professionals, unfortunately! She’s really quite something, though, with those long locks of crimson hair and those deep hazel eyes – the kind that an out of work rock singer might try to pen a tune about one day in hopes of getting his career back off the ground so that he can move out of his parents’ basement or something.

Yes, Janice was a beauty, indeed, but that, my friends, is a tale for another day! I hope you enjoyed our little lesson this afternoon and if anything else, take with you this last message, “A monkey in hand is worth two in the…” – no, wait, perhaps it’s, “It’s better to have spanked the monkey…” – that can’t be right! Maybe it’s simply, “A monkey saved is a monkey earned…”

Well, whatever – that’s close enough. Toodle-do!