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New York City's animal kingdom, wild and tame

This morning, outside my apartment building, I see a husky that looks newly arrived from the Arctic, and an English bulldog. Dogs on the street come in different sizes, shapes, and colors, just like New Yorkers.

I sit on a Central Park bench to glance at the newspaper and eat a doughnut. A squirrel rushes by with a large dog in pursuit. Small in size, a park resident, and city property, the squirrel deserves a defender.

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I rise and shoo the dog away. Having lost his prey, the dog gives me a baleful glance, goes to the bench, and, with a single gulp, downs my doughnut.

Continuing my walk, I pass under the Delacorte Clock at the northern entrance to the zoo. On the hour and half-hour, animals circle the clock: An elephant playing an accordion, a violin-playing hippopotamus, a bear with a tambourine, a goat playing pipes, a penguin with a drum, and a kangaroo blowing a horn (as is the baby kangaroo in her pouch).

In the zoo I see polar bears swimming. Three sea lions, after savoring their breakfast of raw fish, glide through the water in contentment, or drape themselves on rocks to snooze.

I pass a herd of antelope carved in stone on the facade of a zoo building, and two long-tailed iron monkeys on a gate.

These are animals from my past. Leaving the zoo, I recall the pony track, long since gone. As a child, I rode ponies here.

In Grand Army Plaza, beneath a canopy of flowering pear trees, I see the wonderful Saint-Gaudens equestrian statue of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman. Nearby, carriage horses munch on oats.

At the subway entrance at 60th Street and Fifth Avenue, I descend 30 steps to reach the token booth.

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On the tile walls of the station appear a family of playful monkeys and a flock of high-flying birds. To me, they represent New Yorkers bursting with energy, ready to begin a new day.

I identify more with other wall depictions: seven turtles and a family of snails. Early in the morning, like them, I move slowly.

On the train platform, more polar bears, but this time in stone.

Encounters with the animal kingdom on my walk from home to subway.


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