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Rombach7 is blind and he can’t sit for long without pain, so he paces close enough for his whiskers to brush the Lexan plate. Rilke meets generation loss. Visitors can’t hear it, but he’s actually a mutant–he purrs.

The zoo’s exchange chief is in negotiations with Bombay for a breeding pair of lions from a much more successful pool, once the habitat’s freed up. 7’s the last splice from the original Rombach stock, and his caretakers don’t consider him viable for stud, much less a remaster. No more Rombachs.

The gift shop plushies, now, those they can sell forever.


Tegan cries angry grownup tears all the way to the zoo.

“Maybe we shouldn’t go, Tegan,” says Marlo quietly.

“Why,” mutters Tegan, “did I not teach you to call me Mom?”


“That’s enough, Marlo.” She wipes her eyes again.

Most of the animals are indoors, but Rombach the Panthera leo persica is out and pacing. He doesn’t have much of a mane; his eyes are brave. Marlo watches him until Tegan makes her leave, then slips away and comes back and gets yelled at entirely too much.

Marlo gets a stuffed lion at the gift shop with her own money.