I was interpreting at the Edge when a mother asked me to be complicit with a bit of subterfuge involving her young son. She explained that her son had reached one of life’s small milestones, and wanted to have the Zoo be part of his celebration. The young man had matured into a “big boy” who no longer needed a pacifier—and it was his plan to give all of his pacifiers to the baby animals at the Denver Zoo.
Since I was in my volunteer uniform holding the tiger skin biofacts, I agreed to play the role of keeper in fulfilling her son’s wishes. A few minutes after the stage was set, dad and son, carrying a plastic bag with 10–15 pacifiers in it, walked up to me. The son was a bit nervous, but with prompting from dad, he held out the bag of pacifiers and asked, “Would you give these to the baby animals at the Zoo?”
With a catch in my throat, I said I would be happy to do as he asked. I also showed him Nikita, Denver Zoo’s lady tiger, and told the young man that we hoped that Nikita would soon be a mommy and I would make sure that her cubs got his special pacifiers. Afterwards, the mother thanked me and retrieved the bag of pacifiers. It was a most enjoyable and memorable guest encounter. Encounters like these underscore the reasons that I enjoy being a volunteer at Denver Zoo.