Gibbs, Stuart - Panda-monium

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Con te n ts
1: T H E T H IE F
2: T H E B IG E VEN T
3: S C EN E O F T H E C RIM E
4: T H E S E C O ND B ATH IN G S U IT
5 : T H E F E D S
6: T H E T H REA T
7: E A VESD RO PPIN G
8: D O C
9: T H E S N EA K A TTA C K
10: T H E R A LLY
1 1: T H E T A N K
12: A N GRY P A N DA
13: Q UEST IO NIN G
14: S A BO TA G E
15: T R A FFIC KERS A N D G O AT S U C KERS
16: P A N DA P A LA C E
17: P O LA R B EA RS
18: H O T P U RSU IT

19: B IG T R O UBLE
2 0: T H E C O NFE SSIO N
21: A N IM AL H O USE
22: T H E S W IM MER
EPIL O GUE: T H E D EB U T
A C KN O W LE D G M EN TS
A BO UT T H E A UTH O R

For a ll t h e p eop le w ho w ork i n a nim al co nse rv a tio n ,
fi ghtin g to p ro te ct e ndangere d sp eci es a nd h abita ts.
T hanks f or e very th in g y ou d o.

TH E T H IE F
I a lm ost m is se d a ll th e m ay h em w it h th e gia n t pan da beca use a
d olp h in s to le m y b ath in g s uit .
 e d olp h in w as a m ale A tla n tic bo ttle no se na med S ni ck ers, and I w as
sw im min g in th e D olp h in A dven tu re ta n k a t F unJ ung le W ild A ni m al P ark .
Sn ick ers w as k n ow n fo r b ein g e xt re m ely p la y fu l, bu t u p u n til th at p oint , he’d
n ev er s w ip ed a n yo n e’s cl oth in g b efo re . Fortu na te ly f o r m e, it h ap pene d a t e ig h t
in th e m orn in g o n a S u n day, an h ou r be fo re th e p ark o p ene d, so th ere w ere
o n ly tw o o th er p eo p le aro u n d w hen I g o t p an ts e d . U nf ortu na te ly , bo th o f
th ose o th er p eo p le w ere g ir ls .
O ne o f t h em w as m y g ir lf r ie n d, Su m mer M cC ra ck en, th e f o u rte en- yea r-o ld
d au gh te r o f t h e o w ner o f F un Ju n gle .  e o th er w as O li v ia P utne y, th e d olp h in
t r a in er. Oli via was tw en ty -th re e, bu t sh e beh av ed in su ch a yo u th fu l,
e n th usia stic w ay th at I o ft e n f org o t s he w as t en y ea rs o ld er t han m e.
D olp h in A dven tu re w as a n e n orm ou s sa lt w ate r ta n k w here to u ris ts co uld
p ay to in te ra ct wit h th e p ark ’s eig h t d olp h ins . So m e le ss re p u ta bl e d olp h in
e n co un te rs allo w ed to u ris ts to rid e o n th e an im als , bu t F unJ ung le o nl y le t
g u ests sw im cl ose by, fe ed th e dolp h ins so m e � sh , an d pet th em gent ly .
E very o n e lo ved it .  e se ssio n s w ere e x p ens iv e—a nd th at w as in ad dit io n to
th e ste ep p rice o f p ark ad m is sio n—bu t D olp h in Advent ure so ld o u t alm ost
e v ery d ay.
S u m mer a n d I h ad b een sw im ming w it h th e d olp h ins a lo t la te ly . W e h ad
co me f o r t h e � rst t im e a m on th be fo re , w hen Su m mer h ad s u rp ris e d m e w it h a

priv ate s w im fo r m y b ir th day. N orm ally , gu ests s w am in gro u ps, bu t s ince w e
did it a ft e r o ffi cia l p ark h ou rs, th e t w o o f u s a nd O li v ia h ad t h e d olp h ins a ll t o
o u rse lv es. It w as s u ppose d t o b e a o ne -tim e e v ent , bu t t h en Oli v ia h ad inv it e d
u s t o co me b ack w hen ev er w e w ant ed —s o w e h ad . U su ally , w e v is it e d a ft e r t h e
park cl ose d ; ev en t h ou gh it w as o nl y A pril, ce nt ra l T ex as co uld s till be a w fu lly
h ot in th e e v en in gs a n d th e d olp h in ta n k w as re fr e sh ing ly co ol. N o o ne e v er
ch arg ed u s, ev en t h ou gh S u m mer co uld e a sily a ff ord it . It w as o ne o f t h e p erk s
o f b ein g t h e o w ner’s d au gh te r.  e t r a ine rs cl aim ed it w asn ’t a b ig d ea l; one o f
th em a lw ay s h ad t o b e t h ere b efo re o p eni ng a nd a ft e r cl osing a ny how , and t h ey
sa id t h e s tim ula tio n w e p ro vid ed w as g o od f o r t h e d olp h in s.  ey e v en gav e u s
ou r o w n e m plo yee lo ck ers to s to re ba th ing s u it s a nd to w els , so w e d id n’t h av e
to l u g o ur s tu ff h om e a nd b ack each tim e.
W e h ad n’t r e a lly m ea n t t o g o s w im ming t h at m orni ng . W e h ad re a lly co me
to F un Ju n gle to s e e L i P in g.  e � ve-y ea r-o ld p and a’s a rriv al w as a h uge d ea l.
M ost an im als w ere o w ned b y th eir zo os, bu t ev ery p an da in th e w orld w as
o w ned b y th e co un tr y o f C hin a, w hich o nl y lo an ed th em to a fe w s e le ct z o os
aro u n d th e w orld . O th er an im als co uld attr a ct cr ow ds, bu t n oth ing els e o n
ea rth w as a s r a re , ad ora b le , an d b elo ved a s a g ia n t p and a.  e f a ct t h at o ne w as
co min g to Fun Ju n gle h ad b ooste d t ick et p re sa le s f or t he e nt ir e s um mer.
L i P in g w as su ppose d to b e th ere at 8:00 a.m ., bu t S u m mer and I h ad
a rriv ed m uch e a rli e r.  at w asn ’t a b ig d ea l fo r m e, since m y fa m ily a ct ually
li v ed a t F un Ju n gle . (B oth o f m y p are nt s w ork ed fo r th e p ark —M om w as th e
hea d p rim ato lo gis t, w hile D ad w as th e o ffi cial p h oto gra p h er—s o w e li v ed in
e m plo yee h ou sin g b ey o n d th e b ack fe nce .) S u m mer li v ed tw ent y m ile s a w ay,
b u t sh e an d h er fa th er w ere n ’t ab ou t to m is s so m eth ing th is m om ent ou s.
U nfo rtu n ate ly , th e t r u ck w it h L i P ing g o t s tu ck in a m ajo r t r a ffi c ja m o n I-10,
d ela y in g t h e p an da’s a rriv al a t le a st a n hou r. E ven th at e a rly in th e m orni ng , it
w as a lr e a d y h ot, so S u m mer h ad sa id th at, ins te a d o f ju st sit ting a ro u nd , w e
m ig h t a s w ell g o s ee th e d olp h in s.
A fe w m on th s b efo re , J.J . M cC ra ck en wou ld h av e h ad a b od yg u ard ta il
S u m mer to th e d olp h in ta n k, bu t S u m mer h ad a lw ay s ch afe d a t th is . H av ing
e n orm ou s m en co nsta n tly fo llo w ing h er m ad e it d iffi cu lt to h av e a no rm al
so cia l li f e . So s h e’d b eg ged h er f a th er t o s to p h ir ing t h em , point ing o u t t h at, so
fa r, th e g u ard s h ad a ctu ally ca use d m ore p ro bl em s t h an t h ey ’d s o lv ed . ( e la st

on e h ad b een co mpli cit in a crim e a t F unJ ung le .) J .J . h ad r e lu ct an tly a g re ed o n
a tria l b asis , w hich had w ork ed o ut s o f ar.
W hen S u m mer an d I re a ch ed D olp h in Advent ure , we fo u nd O li v ia o n
d u ty , fe ed in g th e d olp h in s a b re a k fa st o f ra w sq u id and h erring . Sh e w as
w ea rin g h er sta n dard D olp h in A dvent ure b ath ing su it a nd h er h air w as w et,
in dica tin g t h at s h e’d a lr e a d y b een in th e t a n k. O li v ia d id n’t e v en bo th er a sk ing
if w e w an te d to sw im . S he s im ply s aid , “ Hop o n i n, k id s!  e w ate r’s � ne !”
“ S o u n ds go od ,” Su m mer re p li e d , th en to ld m e, “L ast one in is a se a
cu cumber!” a n d b olt e d fo r h er lo ck er. W e q u ick ly ch ang ed int o o u r ba th ing
s u it s , gra b bed scu ba m ask s, an d hit th e w ate r. Su m mer bea t m e by �ve
se co nds. A b it e a rli e r in t h e y ea r, w e m ig h t h av e n eed ed n eo p re ne s u it s t o k eep
w arm , b ut it w as h ot e nou gh th at d ay t o g o i n w it h ou t t hem .
 e d olp h in ta n k w as a n o val p ool tw elv e fe et d eep a nd a q u arte r m ile in
cir cumfe re n ce . It w as divid ed int o tw o se ct io ns : one fo r th e dolp h ins to
in te ra ct wit h g u ests a n d a m uch la rg er a re a t o be o n th eir o w n.  e int era ct io n
are a w as fr o n te d b y a lo n g m an -m ad e b ea ch b u ilt w it h sa n d th at h ad b een
tr u ck ed in f r o m S o u th P ad re I s la n d. A � oating ca tw alk s e p ara te d t h e t w o a re a s
o n t h e s u rfa ce , w it h a s m all is la n d in th e ce nt er o f t h e t a n k. U nder t h e s u rfa ce ,
th ou gh , th ere w ere n o b arrie rs.  e d olp h ins w ere a lw ay s fr e e to g o w here v er
th ey w an te d . If th ey fe lt li k e ig no ring u s— or a n y g u ests — th ey co uld sim ply
s w im aw ay.
T w o o f th em , Sn ick ers a n d h is s is te r, Tw ix , ra ce d r ig h t o ver to u s, ea g er to
p la y. Bottle n ose d olp h in s a re e xt re m ely so ci al a n d th e sibl ing s k n ew u s w ell.
 ey s w am all a ro u n d u s, l ea p in g o ver o ur h ea d s a nd co rk scr ew ing thro u gh t he
w ate r belo w . Sn ick ers kep t ro lli ng ont o his ba ck, ea g er to hav e his be lly
r u bbed , l ik e a 4 00-p ou n d a qu atic p ood le .
“ W an t to se e so m eth in g co ol? ” O li v ia ask ed u s, aft e r w e’d b een in lo ng
en ou gh fo r o u r � n gers to sta rt p ru ni ng . “I’v e ta u gh t T w ix a n ew be hav io r.
C heck th is o u t.” S h e ste p ped o n to th e � oating ca tw alk a n d b le w int o a sm all
s ilv er w his tle s he k ep t o n a ch ain a ro u nd her ne ck. T wix z ip ped o ver t o h er.
D olp h in s’ p erso n ali t ie s a re a s v arie d a s h um an s’ a re . Tw ix w as m uch m ore
a cr ob atic th an th e o th ers, ab le to d o a ll so rts o f a m azing tr ick s, li k e d ou bl e
�ip s w it h a tw is t. Sn ick ers w as fa r m ore im pis h , alw ay s lo oking fo r w ay s to
s te a l � sh fr o m th e tr a in ers.  eir m oth er, Sk it tle s, had th e m ost v o ca li z a tio ns

of a n y d olp h in a t F un Ju n gle ; in a d dit io n to w his tle s, g ru n ts , cli ck s, an d cl ack s,
sh e co uld m ak e a n in cred ib le v arie ty o f f arting no is e s w it h h er bl ow hole .
O li via ble w h er w his tle a gain .
T w ix b ob bed u prig h t w it h h er h ea d o ut o f t he w ate r.
O li via then cl en ch ed h er h an d in to a � st.
T w ix p ro m ptly s pit a m ou th fu l o f w ate r o ver t he w all.
“ C ool!” S um mer e xcl aim ed . “ Can I try i t? ”
“ S u re .” O li via t o sse d a h an dfu l o f s q u id int o T w ix ’s m ou th . “I’d li k e t o s e e if
s h e’l l d o it f o r o th er p eo p le .” S h e bl ew int o h er w his tle o nce m ore a nd p oint ed
to w ard u s.
T w ix sh ot b ack t h ro u gh t h e t a n k t o w here w e w ere t r e a d ing w ate r a nd ca me
to a sudden s to p in fro n t o f S um m er, s tick ing her h ea d a bo ve t he s urfa ce .
“O kay, T wixie ,” S um mer s aid . “ W hen I giv e y ou t he s ig na l, s pit a t T ed dy.”
“ H ey !” I p ro te ste d .
“O ne,” S um mer co un te d . “ Tw o . . . ”
Befo re sh e co uld get to th re e, I ra is e d m y h and and m ad e a � st. Tw ix
p ro m ptly s pit a m ou th fu l o f w ate r i nt o S um mer’s f ace ins te a d o f m ine .
Most p eo p le a ssu m ed I li k ed S u m m er b eca use sh e w as r ich , bea u tif u l, and
fa m ou s.  ey w ere w ro n g. I li k ed Su m mer be cause sh e w as th e co ole st,
s m arte st, m ost d ow n-to -e a rth gir l I’d ev er m et. (A lt h ou gh h er be ing rich ,
bea u tif u l, an d fa m ou s w ere a ll n ice p erk s.) F or e x am ple , a lo t o f g ir ls m ig h t
hav e b een u pse t to h av e a g ia n t m arine m am mal sp it o n th em . But S u m mer
th ou gh t it w as fu n ny. Sh e sp lu tt e re d a b it , la u gh ing th e w hole tim e—t hen
p ou n ce d o n m e an d tr ie d to d u n k m e. “Y o u’r e go ing d ow n fo r th at!” sh e
w arn ed .
I ca ugh t h er a rm s in m id -a tta ck a nd w e e nd ed u p w re stli ng , ea ch t r y ing t o
s h ove th e o th er o n e u n der th e w ate r. Sni ck ers se em ed to fe ed o ff o u r e ne rg y,
sp ir a li n g a ro u n d u s i n t h e p ool. H e e v en nudged u s a f e w t im es, li k e h e w ant ed
to j oin in th e f un .
A nd th en , he g ra b bed m y b ath ing su it in his te eth a nd d ove, yank ing it
r ig h t o ff m e.
I w as s u dden ly b u ck n ak ed e x ce pt fo r m y s cu ba m ask . N eed le ss t o s a y, th is
ca ugh t m e by su rp ris e . I fo rg o t all abo ut w re stli ng . Su m mer, who h ad n’t

notice d I’d b een str ip ped , pro m ptly d u n ked m e. Sh e sh oved m e u nd er and
cr ow ed victo rio u sly .
B elo w th e su rfa ce, I sp otte d S n ick ers sp eed ing to th e fa rth est e nd o f th e
ta n k, m y b ath in g su it cl en ch ed � rm ly in his m ou th . It d id n’t lo ok li k e I w as
g o in g to get it b ack anytim e s oon .
I p ro m ptly cu pped m y h an ds o ver m y p riv ate s and bo bbe d ba ck to th e
su rfa ce .
“I g o t y o u g o ooo d ,” S u m mer t a u n te d , still u na ware o f w hat h ad h ap pene d.
“A nd y ou a re n ot g ettin g m e b ack .”
“ Y o u’r e rig ht,” I a gre ed . “ I’m not.”
S u m mer co cked h er h ea d a t m e cu rio u sly . “Y o u’r e g o nna le t m e g et a w ay
w it h th at? ”
“ U m , y es. I ’m feeli n g v ery ch iv alr o u s.”
“ Y o u w ere n ’t so ch iv alr o u s w hen yo u m ad e Sni ck ers sp it in my fa ce ,”
S u m mer to ld m e. “ W hat’s g oin g o n? ”
“N oth in g,” I said , a bit to o q uick ly .
S u m mer m ig h t h av e p re sse d o n su sp ici ou sly if h er ce ll p h one h ad n’t r u ng .
Sh e’d le ft it o n th e fa k e b ea ch w it h h er to w el, an d it no w ch im ed lo u dly w it h
th e s peci� c rin gto n e th at in dica te d h er f ath er w as ca lli ng .
“ at’s D ad dy!” S u m mer ex cl aim ed , th en check ed h er w atch . “O h m an,
w e’v e b een h ere lo n ger t h an I t h ou gh t! I ’l l be t L i P ing ’s a lm ost h ere !” S h e s w am
fo r th e b ea ch .
I sta y ed r ig h t w here I w as, tr y in g to � gu re o u t h ow to g et o u t o f th e p ool
w it h ou t r ev ea li n g I w as n ak ed .
N ow O li via g re w su sp icio us to o.  an kfu lly , fr o m w here sh e w as sta nd ing
o n t h e ca tw alk , sh e co uld n’t s e e t o o w ell b elo w t h e s u rfa ce o f t h e w ate r, so s h e
had n’t n otice d m y n ak ed n ess y et e it h er. “Y o u’r e n ot g o ing to se e th e p and a?”
s h e a sk ed .
“I th ou gh t I ’d ta ke a lit tle e xtra tim e w it h t he d olp h ins ,” I rep li e d .
“Y o u ca n s w im w it h t h e d olp h in s w hene ver y o u w an t,” O li v ia p oint ed o u t.
“ A g ia n t p an da d oesn ’t s how u p e very d ay.”
N orm ally , th is w ou ld h av e b een a g o od p oint . H ow ev er, e v en t h ou gh I w as
ex cite d t o s e e L i P in g, I w asn ’t e x ci te d fo r t h e t w o g ir ls t o s e e m e na ked . O r t o
e v en lea rn th at I w as n ak ed .

Only , th at w as g ettin g h ard er a n d h ard er t o k eep a s e cr et. Su m mer h ad no w
re a ch ed th e b ea ch . A s sh e ch eck ed th e m essa g e fr o m h er fa th er, sh e re a li z e d I
w as s till b ack in t h e p ool. “W hat a re y o u d oing ?” s h e d em an ded . “D ad dy s a y s
L i P in g w ill b e h ere in �ft e en m in ute s! W e’v e g otta b olt .”
“ Y o u g o a hea d ,” I said . “ I’l l ca tch u p.”
“ I’m n ot g o in g w it h ou t y o u ,” S u m mer ins is te d , th en ask ed , “W hy a re y o u
tr e a d in g w ate r s o f un ny?”
“ W hat a re y ou ta lk in g a bou t? ” I a sk ed inno cent ly .
S u m mer’s ja w d ro p ped a s sh e � na lly re a li z e d w hy m y h an ds w ere cu pp ed
o ver m y p riv ate s. “ Oh m y g osh . D id y ou lose y ou r ba th ing suit ? ”
“ N o,” I lie d .
A t w hich p oin t, Sn ick ers am bu sh ed m e fr o m b elo w . H e’d re tu rne d fr o m
h id in g m y b ath in g su it a n d w as still in a ra m bu nct io u s m ood . D olp h ins a re
s u rp ris in gly p ow erfu l. W it h o n ly a fe w str o kes o f th eir ta ils , th ey ca n la u nch
th eir e n tir e b od ie s te n fe et o u t o f th e w ate r. O r p lo w int o a g re a t w hit e s h ark
h ard e n ou gh to k ill it . O r, it tu rn ed o u t, �ing a th ir te en- yea r-o ld bo y � ft e en
fe et th ro u gh th e air . Sn ick ers d ro ve h is h ea d rig h t u nd er m y re a r end and
� ick ed m e u pw ard .  e n ext th in g I k n ew , I w as � ying . In m y s u rp ris e , I le t g o
of m y p riv ate s an d w in dm ille d m y arm s in th e air , allo w ing S u m mer and
O li via am ple o p portu n it y to se e th at I w as co mple te ly n ak ed .  en I be lly
� op ped b ack in to th e w ate r.
W hen I re su rfa ced , Su m mer a n d O li v ia w ere la u gh ing h yste rica lly . So w as
S n ick ers.  e d olp h in ’s la u gh te r so u nd ed m ore li k e ra p id -� re cl ick ing , bu t I
d e� n it e ly g o t th e se n se th at h e kne w w hat h e’d d one w as fu n ny . To e v ery o ne
b u t m e, a t l ea st.
“ W hat h ap pen ed t o y o u r s u it ? ” S u m mer a sk ed , th ou gh s h e w as la u gh ing s o
h ard s he co uld b are ly s pea k .
“ at j erk s to le it! ” I e xcl aim ed , p oint ing at S ni ck ers.
S n ick ers a p pare n tly d id n’t li k e b eing ins ult e d . H e p ro m ptly � ip ped h is t a il,
d ou sin g m e w it h a w av e o f w ate r.
S u m mer l au gh ed e ven h ard er.
“ It’s n ot f un ny,” I said .
“Y es it is ,” s he in fo rm ed m e. “ In f act , i t’s v er y f un ny . A nd I g u ara n te e y o u , if
I ’d lost m y b ath in g s uit in th ere , y ou’d b e l au gh ing .”

I d id n’t re p ly to th at, beca use it w as p ro ba bly tr u e. In ste a d , I sa id , “C ou ld
y o u tw o tu rn a w ay s o I ca n g et m y t ow el? ”
S u m mer a n d O li via b oth a v erte d th eir e y es. Sni ck ers h it m e w it h a no th er
w av e o f w ate r.
I cl am bere d o ut o nto th e b ea ch and q uick ly w ra p ped m y t ow el a ro u nd m e.
S u m mer sta rte d fo r th e w om en ’s ch an ging ro om , w here sh e’d le ft h er d ry
cl oth es. “ Let’s m ove it. L i P in g’s g onna be h ere s oon. ”
“I’m dry in g o ff a s f ast a s I ca n,” I told h er.
 e ch an gin g r o om s w ere t o t h e s id e o f t h e b ea ch , ne xt t o a s m all bu ild ing
w here g u ests ch eck ed in f o r t h eir d olp h in sw im s. B oth s tr u ct ure s h ad t h atch ed
ro ofs to g iv e th e im pre ssio n th at w e w ere o n so m e tr o p ica l is la nd , ra th er th an
tw o h un dre d m ile s f r o m t h e o ce an.  e w alls o f t h e ch ang ing r o om d id n’t e v en
g o a ll t h e w ay u p t o t h e t h atch , so w e co uld e a sily t a lk ba ck a n d f o rth be tw een
th em . A s I rin se d o ff th e sa lt w ate r in th e m en ’s sh ow er, O li v ia ca lle d to m e
fr o m outs id e th e d oor. “ Ted dy! H ow d id S ni ck ers g et y ou r s w im su it o ff?”
“ H e ju st g ra b bed o n t o it w it h h is t e eth a n d y an ked it d ow n!” I y elle d ba ck.
“ en h e s w am aw ay w it h it. ”
“H mmm,” O li via said , l ik e s om eth ing was b oth ering her.
“ Is s om eth in g w ro n g?” I a sk ed .
“H e’s n ev er d on e t h at b efo re ,” O li v ia s a id . “A nd n one o f t h e o th er d olp h ins
h av e e it h er, so h e co uld n’t h av e le a rne d it fr o m th em . I w ond er w here h e g o t
th e id ea .”
I tu rn ed o ff th e w ate r a n d g ra b be d m y to w el. “H e co uld n’t h av e � gu re d it
o u t h im se lf ? ”
“ It’s p ossib le ,” O li via rep li e d , “ bu t i t’s h ig h ly u nl ik ely .  ere a re t w o t yp es o f
dolp h in b eh avio rs: natu ra l o n es and le a rne d o ne s. A na tu ra l o ne w ou ld be
so m eth in g w it h a p u rp ose , li k e le a p ing o u t o f th e w ate r—w hile o ne th at’s
l e a rn ed is m ore o f a t r ick , li k e d oin g a b ack � ip . Ste a li ng s o m eo ne ’s ba th ing s u it
d oesn ’t se em li k e it ’d h av e m uch na tu ra l p u rp ose to a d olp h in, an d it ’s a li t tle
co mpli ca te d , s o m y g uess is it w as l ea rne d.”
“ H old o n ,” S u m mer sa id fr o m th e w om en ’s ro om . “A re y o u sa y ing o ne o f
th e tra in ers ta u gh t S nick ers to do th at? ”
“ I h op e n ot,” O li via s a id . “B ut I d on’t t h ink I ca n le t S ni ck ers int era ct w it h
th e p u bli c fo r t h e t im e b ein g. If h e s tr ip s t h e s u it o ff a p ay ing g u est, w e co uld

get s ued .”
I y an ked o n m y d ry cl oth es a n d e x it e d th e ch ang ing ro om . “H ow co uld
s o m eo n e e ls e h av e ta u gh t th e d olp h ins to d o a ny th ing ? N o o ne h as a cce ss to
th e d olp h in s e x ce p t th e tra in ers, rig ht? ”
“ N o o n e els e is su ppose d to h av e acce ss,” O li via co rre cte d. “B ut m ay be
so m eo n e d oes.”
“ A nd y ou’r e w orrie d th ey ’l l te ach a ll t he d olp h ins to s tr ip t he g uests ?”
“A ctu ally , I’m m ore w orrie d th at so m eo ne ’s been in wit h th e dolp h ins
w it h ou t a u th oriz a tio n . M ay b e th ey d id n’t re a lly tr y to te a ch S ni ck ers to p ant s
peo p le , b ut it s till h ap pen ed s om eh ow .”
“ H ow ?”
“ D olp h in s p ick u p b eh avio rs a ll th e tim e w it h ou t ne cessa rily be ing ta u gh t
th em .  ey ca n le a rn t h in gs ju st b y int era ct ing w it h g u ests . W hen th e t r a ine rs
a re h ere , w e ca n tr y to m ak e su re th ey d on’t p ick u p a ny ba d h abi ts . But if
s o m eo n e s nea k s in here w hen w e’r e no t a ro u nd  . . . ”
“ e d olp h in s co uld lea rn s om e b ad be hav io rs?” I � ni sh ed .
“Y es. But ev en m ore im porta n tly , th e d olp h ins co uld get h urt. Lik e if
s o m eo n e d id n’t k n ow w hat th ey w ere d oing a nd tr ie d to rid e o ne o f th em .”
O li via turn ed to me. “ Ted dy, y ou’r e t ig h t w it h s ecu rit y  . . . ”
“I w ou ld n’t s ay th at, e xactl y . . . ”
“W ell, yo u’v e so lv ed a co uple cr im es aro u nd h ere . So yo u k n ow C hie f
H oen ek ker p re tty w ell. C ou ld y o u a sk h im t o ch eck t h e s e cu rit y f e ed s f r o m t h e
la st f ew d ay s f or m e?”
“ O nly th e l ast f ew d ay s?”
“ If t h e d olp h in s le a rn ed t h is b eh av io r m ore t h an a f e w d ay s a g o , I t h ink w e
w ou ld h av e a lr e a d y s een th em do i t .”
“ S u re ,” I said . “ I ca n a sk H oen ek ker.”
S u m mer e xite d th e ch an gin g ro om , w ea ring o ne o f h er sta n dard a ll- p ink
o u t� ts .  at w as h er tr a d em ark w hen sh e a p pea re d in pu bl ic, and th ere w ere
g o in g to b e lo ts o f T V ca mera s a ro u n d th at d ay. (S u m mer d id n’t a ct ually li k e
p in k t h at m uch ; sh e’d ch ose n it a s h er t r a d em ark co lo r s o t h at, w hen sh e d id n’t
w ea r it , m ost p eo p le w ou ld n’t re co gni ze h er.) H er bl ond h air w as still w et,
m ak in g it lo ok dark er, an d sh e was pu lli ng it back int o a pony ta il.

“H oen ek ker’s g o n na b e a w fu lly b u sy w it h th e p an da to d ay,” sh e to ld O li v ia .
“ Y o u m ig h t w an t to ca ll s ecu rit y y ou rse lf .”
“ I w ill,” O li via sa id . “B ut I’m w orrie d th ey m ig h t n ot ta k e m e se rio u sly .
H avin g a d olp h in ste a li n g b ath ing su it s p ro ba bly w on’t se em li k e a v ery h ig h
p rio rit y to th em . S o I � gu re e very l it tle bi t h elp s.”
“ G ood p oin t,” S u m mer a d m it te d , th en ch eck ed h er w atch . “T ed dy, w e h av e
to m oto r o r w e’l l m is s L i P in g.”
“ I’m rea d y,” I said , to ssin g m y to wel i nt o m y l ock er.
S u m mer d id th e s am e th in g, a nd w e r an f or t he f ro nt gate s o f F unJ ung le .
If I h ad k n ow n h ow b ig a d is a ste r th e p an da’s a rr iv al w as g o ing to be , I
w ou ld h av e s ta y ed in th e p ool.

TH E B IG E V EN T
M ost p eop le d id n’t k n ow S um mer w as m y gir lf r ie n d. Even o u r
cl ose st f r ie n ds. B eca use S u m mer w as t h e d au gh te r o f a b illi o na ir e a nd a f a m ou s
m od el, sh e’d b een i n t h e p u bli c ey e s ince t h e d ay s h e w as b orn. Gossip w ebs it e s
a n d tr a sh y m ag azin es w ere a lw ay s ru nni ng sto rie s a b ou t h er, m ost o f w hich
w ere co mple te ly w ro n g. A f e w w eek s be fo re , sh e h ad b een in th e a u die nce a t a
b oy b an d co nce rt in San A nto n io , an d th e ne xt d ay, th e ru m or m ach ine
a n nou n ce d sh e w as d atin g th e le a d sing er. (O ne w ebs it e ev en cla im ed th ey
w ere e n gag ed , desp it e t h e fa ct th at ne it h er w as o ld e no ugh t o d riv e.) I n tr u th ,
Su m mer had nev er had a boyfr ie nd be fo re m e, an d sh e w orrie d all th e
m ag azin es a nd w eb sit e s w ou ld g o nu ts i f t hey f ou nd out a bou t u s.
“ O ur f rie n ds a re n ’t g oin g to tell th e p re ss t hat w e’r e d ating ,” I ’d a rg u ed .
“N o, bu t th ey ’l l te ll s o m eo n e ,” sh e’d co un te re d . “A nd th ose p eo p le w ill te ll
o th er p eo p le , w ho’l l t e ll o th er p eo p le , w ho’l l t e ll o th er p eo p le . So one r o r la te r,
t h e m ed ia w ill � n d o u t a b ou t it , an d th e ne xt th ing y o u k n ow , th ere ’l l be TV
cr ew s ca mped o ut o n y ou r l aw n.”
“ W e d on’t h av e a la w n,” I p oin te d o u t. “W e li v e in yo u r d ad ’s cr um my
tr a ile r p ark .” W e w ere su ppose d to h av e a la w n, alo n g w it h la n dsca ping a n d a
co mmun al s w im min g p ool a n d a ll s o rts o f o th er n ice s tu ff , bu t J .J . M cC ra ck en
a p pea re d to h av e fo rg o tte n a b ou t p u tt ing it a ll in. All w e h ad w as a m urk y
sin kh ole th at e xce lle d a t b re ed in g m osq u it o es.
“ Y o u k n ow w hat I m ea n ,” S u m mer s a id . “T ru st m e, th e lo ng er w e ca n keep
th is a secr et, th e b ette r.”

I � gu re d s h e k n ew m ore a b ou t b eing i n th e p u bli c ey e t h an I d id , so I d id n’t
t e ll a n yo n e w e w ere d atin g— ex ce pt f o r m y p are nt s. I d id n’t li k e ly ing t o t h em ,
an d th ey w ou ld h av e � gu re d it o u t a n yh ow ; I’d su ddenl y be en sp end ing a lo t
m ore tim e w it h S um mer.
S u m mer an d I n ev er re a lly sp en t m uch tim e at m y h ou se , beca use ev en
th ou gh w e h ad a n ew d ou ble -w id e tr a ile r, co urte sy o f J.J ., it w as still sm alle r
th an S u m mer’s m oth er’s cl ose t. So m etim es w e w ent t o t h e M cC ra ck ens ’ r a nch ,
beca use th ey h ad a p ool a n d te n ni s co urts a nd sta b le s w it h h orse s a nd a ch ef
w ho’d stu die d in P aris . B ut m ost o f th e tim e, w e ju st h un g o u t a t F unJ ung le .
B eca use S u m mer w as J.J .’s d au gh te r, sh e co uld a rra n ge lo ts o f co ol th ing s in
a d dit io n to s w im min g w it h d olph ins , li k e g etting to s n ea k o nt o r id es w it h ou t
h avin g to w ait in li n e li k e ev ery o ne els e . Alt h ou gh Su m mer d id n’t li v e at
F un Ju n gle li k e I d id , sh e still co nsid ere d it h er se co nd h om e.  e p ark h ad
b een h er id ea , back w hen s h e w as a li t tle g ir l, an d s h e’d s p ent m uch o f h er li f e
w atch in g it a ll co me to geth er. Since sh e lo ved a ni m als , sh e’d b een ex tr e m ely
i n vo lv ed in th e d ev elo p m en t, m ak ing p le nt y o f su ggestio ns h er fa th er h ad
a ctu ally u se d . So s h e k n ew t h e p ark a s w ell a s I d id , m ay be e v en be tte r. A s w e
ra ce d th ro u gh Fun Ju n gle fr o m D olp h in Advent ure , we both kne w ev ery
sh ortcu t, ag re ein g o n th e fa ste st r o u te w it h ou t e v en ne ed ing to d is cu ss it . W e
dod ged betw een Sh ark Enco un te r and th e Petting Z oo, circl ed M onk ey
M ou n ta in , an d cu t r ig h t t h ro u gh t h e u nd erw ate r s e ct io n of H ip po R iv er u nt il
w e a rriv ed a t th e e ntr y p la za .
It w as a m ad h ou se . To o u r su rpr is e , ev en th ou gh it w as still a h alf h ou r
befo re th e p ark o pen ed , h un dre d s o f p eo p le w ere g ath ere d a t t he f ro nt gate s.
W hile L i P in g’s a rriv al a t F un Ju ng le w as h uge n ew s, J.J . M cC ra ck en had
still h op ed t o k eep t h e a ctu al m om ent a s e cr et. O ver t h e p ast y ea r, alm ost e v ery
tim e F un Ju n gle h ad tr ie d to h old a b ig m ed ia e v ent , it h ad e nd ed in dis a ste r:
A t th e ga la o p en in g o f C arn iv o re C an yo n, so m eo ne h ad le t a t ig er lo ose ; w hen
th e p ark h ad m ad e a b ig d ea l a b ou t g etting a k o ala , it h ad b een sto le n; and
w hen a fo rm al fu n era l w as a tte m pte d a ft e r H enr y th e H ip po d ie d , th e cr ane
h old in g t h e co ffin h ad d ro p ped it , sp la tt e ring t h e f r o nt r o w o f d ig ni ta rie s w it h
h ip po g uts . S o J .J. w as w orrie d a bo ut t em pting fate y et a gain.
P ete  wack er, Fun Ju n gle ’s h ea d o f p u bl ic re la tio ns , had d eci ded t o u se t h e
se cr ecy o f t h e e v en t t o s e ll t h e s to ry . Pete d id n’t a ct ually k n ow t h at m uch a bo ut

an im als — he’d re ce ntly sta te d o n li v e te le v is io n th at th e p rim ary fo od so u rce
fo r co yo te s w as r o ad ru n ners— bu t h e k n ew h ow t o w ork t h e m ed ia . Ins te a d o f
gettin g t h e p u bli c ex cite d a b ou t t h e e x act d ay t h e p and a w ou ld a rr iv e, h e m ad e
th e w hole th in g a h uge m yste ry : Li P ing w as co ming  .  . . bu t w hen? H e
ad vertis e d o n b illb oard s, T V , an d r a d io s ta tio n s a ro u n d t h e co un tr y . (“  e � rst
p erso n to see L i P in g th e P an da co uld be yo u !” ) I t w ork ed li k e g an gb u ste rs.  e
sto ry tr e n ded o n ev ery so cia l m ed ia p la tfo rm . G uests � ock ed to F unJ ung le ,
h op in g th ey m ig h t b e l u ck y e nou gh t o be there t he d ay t he p and a a rriv ed .
O f co urse , J.J . an d P ete h ad k n ow n th e e x act d eli v ery d ate a ll a lo ng . It h ad
all b een p la n ned o u t m on th s ah ea d o f tim e w it h th e rig o r o f th e D -D ay
in vasio n .  e id ea w as to h av e L i P ing a rriv e in la te A pril so th at sh e w ou ld
g ra b ev en m ore m ed ia atte n tio n , div erting to u ris ts fr o m o th er th em e p ark s,
li k e D is n ey W orld or U niv ersa l Stu dio s, and ent ici ng th em to pla n th eir
s u m mer v aca tio n s at F un Ju n gle . B ut u p u n til th at m om ent , ev ery th ing w as
su ppose d to b e s h ro u ded in s e cr ecy . A lm ost no o ne w as to ld th e a ct ual a rriv al
d ate . Even S u m mer w as k ep t in th e d ark . Sh e h ad o nl y le a rne d th e ni gh t
befo re , th en p ro m ptly ca lle d m e to share t he ne ws.
L i P in g w as b ein g sh ip ped to F un Ju ng le fr o m th e S an Die g o Z oo, w here
s h e’d b een b orn , in a cu sto m -m ad e, clim ate -co ntro lle d se m i tr u ck . A m ale
p an da, Sh en J u , w ou ld b e � ow n o u t f r o m C hina la te r in th e s u m mer, w it h t h e
hop e th at th ey ’d b re ed . O rig in ally , Pete h ad h op ed to m ak e an ev ent o f L i
Pin g’s t r a n sit a cr oss t h e co un tr y . H e’d w an te d t o ch ris te n th e t r u ck “  e P and a
Exp re ss,” s p la sh L i P in g’s p ictu re a ll o ver it , and h av e it s to p fo r p h oto o p s in
e v ery to w n a lo n g th e w ay. But J.J ., fe a ring d is a ste r, had m ad e h im scr ap a ll
t h at. Li P in g’s d eli v ery w as t o b e fa r m ore cl and estine .  e t r u ck w as s p eci ally
d esig n ed fo r t h e p an da o n t h e in sid e, bu t o n th e o u ts id e, it w as m ad e t o lo ok
li k e e very o th er tr uck on th e h ig h w ay : a bla n d, e asy -to -ig no re g ra y.
H ow ev er, it w as n ow e vid en t th at a ll a tte m pts a t se cr ecy h ad fa ile d . W ord
h ad go tte n ou t, an d th e pan da fa n atics had arr iv ed in fu ll fo rce . W hen
F un Ju n gle h ad d is p la y ed a k o ala t h e p re v io u s w int er, I’d b een su rp ris e d b y h ow
m an y fa n s th ose a n im als h ad — bu t th at w as n oth ing co mpare d to h ow cr azy
p eo p le w ere fo r p an das. Pan das, it se em ed , w ere th e ro ck sta rs o f th e a n im al
w orld , rig h t d ow n to h avin g g ro u pie s. ( e p eo p le w ho w ork ed a t F unJ ung le
h ad alr e a d y ta k en to ca lli n g th em “P an daM an ia cs .” ) M ay be it w as be cause

pan das w ere cu te ; m ay b e it w as b eca use th ey w ere ra re . Pro ba bly it w as a
co mbin atio n o f t h e t w o. W hate v er t h e ca se , p an da f a n s w ere m ore i nt ens e t h an
th ose f or a ny o th er a nim al.
F or sta rte rs, th ey d re sse d u p. Alm ost e v ery o ne g ath ere d o u ts id e th e fr o nt
gate s h ad w orn a co mbin atio n of bl ack an d w hit e . M an y w ere m ere ly in
p an da-th em ed T -s h ir ts , bu t a s u rp ris ing nu mbe r w ore p and a co stu m es o r h ad
p ain te d th eir fa ce s. Alm ost e v ery o ne h ad a se t o f “ L i P ing e a rs,” w hich h ad
b een a v aila b le f o r p u rch ase a t F un Ju ng le f o r w eek s. ( ey w ere q u it e s im ila r t o
th e M ick ey M ou se e a rs a t D is n ey W orld , ex ce pt t h e e a rs t h em se lv es w ere a lo t
sm alle r, which allo w ed J.J . M cC ra ck en to av o id accu sa tio ns of co pyrig h t
in fr in gem en t a n d sa v e o n p ro d u ctio n co sts .) In ste a d o f lo oking li k e a la rg e
g ro u p o f p an das, how ev er, th e b ig m ass o f b la ck a nd w hit e r e a lly lo oked m ore
li k e a n A nta rctic p en gu in co lo n y.
M ea n w hile , th e p re ss h ad co me o u t in fu ll fo rce a s w ell. N ew s tr u ck s fr o m
ev ery l oca l T V s ta tio n , alo n g w it h a f e w n atio n al o ne s, w ere p ark ed o u ts id e t h e
gate s, ca mera s a t th e r ea d y.
In sid e th e p ark , at th e fa r e d ge o f th e e nt ry p la za , sto od a m uch sm alle r,
co nsid era b ly l ess e nth usia stic co nting ent of p eo p le .
J.J . M cC ra ck en w as th ere , in his cu sto m ary je a n s and co wboy bo ots ,
lo okin g in fu ria te d a b ou t t h e cr ow ds. Pete  wack er s to od be sid e h im , dre sse d
in a fa n cy th re e-p ie ce su it .  en ca me C hie f H oene kker, FunJ ung le ’s h ea d o f
se cu rit y , in a fr e sh ly sta rch ed k h ak i o u t� t th at lo oked m ore li k e so m eth ing a
� ve-s ta r g en era l m ig h t w ea r. A ft e r t h at ca me m y f a th er, re a d y t o d ocu ment t h e
pan da’s a rriv al w it h th re e se p ara te ca mera s (tw o d ig it a l S L R s an d o n e vid eo
re co rd er) d an gli n g fr o m str a p s aro u nd h is ne ck.  e la st p erso n was M om ,
who w as h elp in g D ad o u t t h at m orni ng , w it h t w o ca mera ba gs s lu ng o ver h er
sh ou ld er. Sh e a n d D ad w ere t h e o nl y o ne s in th e g ro u p w ho’d h ad t h e s e ns e t o
w ea r s horts a nd T -s h ir ts in th e h ea t.
“ It’d be bad en ou gh to hav e all th e pand a fr e a k s ou t th ere ,” J.J . was
g ru m bli n g as S u m mer an d I arriv ed . “B ut h ow th e h eck d id all th e ne ws
sta tio n s g et w in d o f th is ? W hat h oly i d io t t ip ped t hem off?”
“ E r . . . , ” P ete s qu ea k ed , l ookin g e m ba rr a sse d .
J.J . w hee le d o n h im . H e w as n ea rly a fo ot s h orte r t h an P ete , ev en wit h li f t s
in h is co wboy b oots , bu t J .J .’s p erso na li t y w as s o bi g, he s o m eh ow s e em ed ju st

as ta ll. “ Y ou to ld th em ?”
“ N ot a ll o f t h em ,” P ete m ew le d . “B ut I t h ou gh t it ’d b e a g o od id ea t o o ff er
e x cl usiv e a cce ss to a few sta tio n s.”
“ Ja ck ’s th e on ly on e w ho w as su ppose d to hav e ex cl usiv e acc ess!” J.J .
sn ap ped , p oin tin g a t m y f ath er. “ So w e co uld co ntr o l t h e s to ry t h is t im e! I f y o u
off er ex cl usiv e acce ss to a bu n ch of peo p le , th en it ’s no t re a lly ex cl usiv e
an ym ore , is it? ”
“N o,” P ete a d m it te d , “b u t t h e n ew s s ta tio ns a ll g et m ore e x ci te d w hen th ey
th in k th ey h av e e x cl usiv e a cce ss. O nly , it lo oks li k e th e fe w I to ld m ust h av e
b la b bed to all th e o th ers . . . ”
“A s w ell a s h alf th e co un ty ,” H oen ek ker m utte re d , no dding to t he cr ow ds.
“A nd th at cr ow d’s g o n na g et r e a l a ng ry w hen th ey � nd o u t th e p and a’s no t
ev en g oin g o n d is p la y f or a m on th ,” J .J. s aid .
“A m on th ?!” P ete e ch oed , g oin g p ale . “ W hat d o y ou m ea n ?”
“  e p an da h as to g o in to q u ara n tine a t th e h osp it a l,” J .J . ex p la ine d. “Ju st
li k e a n y o th er a n im al t h at s h ow s u p h ere . W e h av e t o is o la te it t o m ak e s u re it
d oesn ’t h av e a n y d is e a se s th at’l l in fe ct th e re st o f m y a n im als . Yo u k no w th e
drill,  wack er.”
“ Y es,” P ete w hin ed . “B ut I � gu re d , since t h e p an da w ou ld b e o n dis p la y b y
it s e lf , th at w ou ld co un t th e s am e a s be ing quara n tine d.”
“ N o d ic e,” J.J . re p li e d . “F ed era l re g u la tio ns sta te it h as to b e d one in an
o ffi cia l q u ara n tin e fa cil it y fo r th ir ty d ay s. And D oc sa y s it co uld be ev en
lo n ger.”
“ L on ger?” P ete g asp ed , l ookin g l ik e h e m ig h t p ass o ut.
 e m en w ere a ll s o fo cu se d o n t h e is su e, no o ne n otice d S u m mer a nd m e
arrivin g e x ce pt M om . Sh e s te p ped a w ay t o g re et u s, ra n h er � ng ers t h ro u gh m y
wet hair , an d sm elle d th em . “S alt w ate r,” sh e obs erv ed . “S o m eo ne ’s be en
sw im min g w it h th e d olp h in s a gain. ”
“W ow , M rs. Fit z ro y,” S u m mer s a id , im pre sse d . “I s e e w here T ed dy g ets t h e
dete ctiv e g en es f ro m .”
“ Y o u d id g o w it h p erm is sio n , rig ht? ” M om ask ed .
“Y es,” I g ro an ed , ev en th ou gh M om ’s su sp ici ons w ere p ro ba bly ju sti� ed .
Su m mer a n d I h ad sn uck in to e x h ibi ts be fo re , th ou gh n ev er m ere ly fo r fu n.

We h ad o n ly d on e it to in vestig ate cr im es. “O li v ia P utne y w as w it h u s th e
w hole tim e.”
“ S o w hat a m I s u ppose d t o d o h ere ?” D ad w as a sk ing t h e o th er m en. “A m I
� lm in g L i P in g’s a rriv al— or a re a ll t he ne ws cr ew s?”
“Y ou a re ,” J .J . re p li e d , cu ttin g P ete o ff b efo re h e co uld a ns wer. “Y o u’r e th e
on ly o n e I t r u st a ro u n d t h e p an da. W hen th at t r u ck g ets h ere , I w ant y o u f r o nt
an d ce nte r. Yo u g o in sid e th e tr a ile r to d ocu ment L i P ing , an d y o u sta y w it h
h er u n til sh e g ets tr a n sfe rre d to q u ara n tine .” H e tu rne d to P ete . “ at’s w hat
ex clu si v e m ea n s .  e n ew s w ill j u st h av e to be h app y w it h � lm ing the t ru ck .”
“  ey w on’t e v en g et to s e e th e p an da?” P ete a sk ed , ag h ast. “ ey w on’t be
h ap py a bou t th at.”
“ W ell t h en , yo u b ette r g o ch an ge t h eir m ind s a b ou t i t ,” J .J . to ld h im . “F la sh
th at b ig o ld s m ile o f y o u rs, pu t a g o od s p in on th is , and m ak e s u re t h at cr ow d
doesn ’t tu rn in to a n a n gry m ob.” H e ch eck ed h is w atch , th en ad ded , “A nd d o
it q uick . L i P in g’s co min g in hot.”
“ A ll rig h t,” P ete sa id . H e w as o b vio u sly a n no yed a t J.J ., bu t a s h e tu rne d
to w ard th e n ew s cr ew s, his sta n dard , co n� dent o n- camera p erso na li t y to ok
over. A sm ile blo om ed on his fa ce . He str a ig h te ne d his tie and str o d e
pu rp ose fu lly to ward th e f ro n t g ate s.
 e m om en t th e cr ow d sa w h im co ming , th eir e x ci te m ent g re w . Every o ne
sta rte d a sk in g w hen L i P in g w as g oing to a rr iv e.
“ I a ssu re y o u a ll, th e lo n g w ait fo r L i P ing is n ea rly o ver!” P ete a n no unce d,
an d a ch eer w en t u p f ro m th e cr ow d.
H oen ek ker sig h ed . “S o m etim es  wack er ca n be su ch a m oro n, I’m
s u rp ris e d h e ca n w alk in a str a ig h t l ine .”
“ H e lo oks g o od o n T V , th ou gh ,” J.J . sa id . “O ft e n , th at’s a ll th at m att e rs.
A re th ese cr ow ds g on na ca use u s a ny tro u bl e?”
“ I th in k w e’l l b e all rig h t,” H oene kker re p li e d . “I assig ne d ex tr a se cu rit y
s ta rtin g a t o h -6 0 0 t h is m orn in g in ca se o f a n ev ent uali t y s u ch a s t h is .” N o o ne
at th e p ark b u t J .J . kn ew w hat H oene kker h ad d one b efo re h e h ad ta k en over
se cu rit y , bu t e v ery o n e su sp ecte d h e’d w ork ed fo r so m e b ra n ch o f th e m ili t a ry ,
o r p ossib ly th e C IA ; th e w ay h e s poke w as a b ig r ea so n w hy.
“A ny w ord f ro m M arg e?” M om ask ed .

“O ffice r O ’M alle y la st re p orte d in at o h -8 00, ” H oene kker re p li e d . “E ver
sin ce th ey g ot p ast th at tra ffic j am , t he t rip h as g one wit h ou t a h it ch .”
“ W ait ,” I said , co nce rn ed . “ Larg e M arg e i s w it h t he p and a?”
M om gav e m e a sharp s ta re , d is p le a se d w it h m y ch oice of w ord s.
“ I m ea n , M arg e O ’M alle y is w it h t he p and a?” I co rre ct ed .
“S h e is ta sk ed w it h p ro vid in g se c u rit y fo r L i P ing e n ro u te to F unJ ung le ,”
H oen ek ker e xp la in ed .
“R ea lly ?” I a sk ed , un ab le to h id e m y sh ock . “O f a ll th e p eo p le in se cu rit y ,
y o u s en t M arg e? ”
S in ce th e d ay I ’d � rst a rriv ed a t F unJ ung le , M arg e h ad b een a th orn in my
sid e. Sh e h ad in sta n tly d ecid ed I w as tr o u bl e, her th ou gh t p ro ce ss be ing : 1) I
w as a y o u n g b oy a n d 2 ) a ll y o u n g b oys w ere tr o u bl e. In her d ete rm ina tio n to
p ro ve th is , sh e h ad o ft e n ig n ore d th e a ct ual m is b eh av io r o f p ark g u ests —f or
exa mple , li t te rin g, ban gin g o n t h e g la ss o f t h e e x h ibi ts , or t h ro w ing f o od t o t h e
an im als — in ord er to ca tch m e at cr im es sh e m ere ly su sp ecte d I was
co mmit tin g. Even tu ally , I h ad p la y ed a fe w p ra n ks o n her to g et h er to ba ck
off , bu t t h ey h ad p ro d u ce d t h e o p posit e e ff ect I ’d h op ed fo r. E very t im e I h ad
g lu ed M arg e’s s h oes t o t h e � oor o r le ft a g o rilla p oop in her lo ck er, it h ad o nl y
m ad e h er e ven m ore d ete rm in ed t o bu st m e.
A s a re su lt , M arg e had m is ta ke nly tr ie d to pin tw o m ajo r cr im es at
F un Ju n gle o n m e, ra th er th an lo oking fo r th e re a l cu lp rit s .  e � rst w as th e
th eft o f K azo o th e K oala , an d M arg e’s fa ilu re to so lv e it h ad re su lt e d in her
g ettin g d em ote d fr o m ch ie f o f s e c u rit y in fa v o r o f H oene kker.  e s e co nd w as
a r a sh o f th eft s a t ca ndy a n d ice cr ea m s h op s a ro u nd F unJ ung le . O nce M arg e
h ad re a li z e d I w asn ’t re sp on sib le fo r th ose , eit h er, sh e’d h ad a sm all ne rv o u s
bre a k d ow n. Sh e’d crie d a n d a d m it te d t h at s h e’d n ev er b e a bl e t o p ro ve I w as a s
b ad a s s h e t h ou gh t, so s h e m ig h t a s w ell g iv e u p. U nf ortu na te ly , I w as t h e o nl y
perso n w ho w it n esse d th is . Aft e rw ard , M arg e p re te nd ed li k e it h ad ne ver
h ap pen ed . In fa ct, sh e ev en se em ed a b it ang rie r at m e fo r w it ne ssing h er
m om en t o f w ea k n ess. Sh e w as still a lw ay s b ad -m ou th ing m e, giv ing m e th e
stin k-e y e, a nd tr yin g to pin a nyth ing that w ent w ro ng at F unJ ung le o n m e.
A ll o f w hich w as p ro of t o m e t h at M arg e w asn ’t a v ery co mpete nt m em be r
of t h e s e cu rit y t e a m . I w ou ld n ev er h av e t r u ste d h er t o g u ard a p ig gy ba nk , le t

alo n e so m eth in g as im porta n t as a g ia n t p and a. But th en, I w asn ’t ch ie f o f
se cu rit y .
“ I k n ow y o u’v e h ad y o u r d iff ere n ce s w it h O ffice r O ’M alle y be fo re  .  . . ,”
H oen ek ker s aid to me.
“ D iff ere n ce s?” M om ech oed . “S h e tr ie d to se nd T ed dy to ju veni le h all!
T w ice !”
“ .  . . bu t w hen it co mes to k eep ing an ey e o u t fo r cr im e,” H oen ek ker
co ntin ued , “sh e’s th e m ost vig ila n t m em be r o f m y e nt ir e te a m . A nd I ne ed ed
so m eo n e vig ila n t o n th is m is sio n t o be ale rt f or a ny s ig ns of t ro u bl e.”
I sig h ed , aw are th ere w as so m e tr u th to th is . FunJ ung le w as so la rg e, it
a ctu ally q u ali � ed as an in co rp ora te d ci ty , w hich m ea n t th e se cu rit y d iv is io n
w as a li ce nse d p oli ce f o rce — bu t s a d ly , it w asn ’t e x act ly S co tla n d Y ard . W ork ing
s e cu rit y a t a z o o u su ally w asn ’t a v ery e x ci ting jo b, and s o it m ostly te nd ed to
a ttr a ct gu ys w ho’d b are ly � n is h ed h ig h s ch ool a nd w ho co uld n’t m ak e th e cu t
fo r th e r e a l p oli c e. W hich e xp la in ed w hy a n overz e a lo u s bo nehea d li k e M arg e
co uld b e co nsid ere d o ne o f th e m ost co mpete nt m em be rs o f t he f orce .
“W hat k in d o f tr ou ble w ere y ou e xp ect ing ?” S um mer a sk ed .
“A ny kin d,” H oen ek ker re p li e d . “ at pand a’s worth m illi o ns , and
te ch nica lly , sh e’s n ot e v en o u rs. Sh e’s p ro p erty o f t h e C hine se g o vernm ent . So I
n eed ed s o m eo n e to s it w it h th e d riv er o f th e tr u ck a n d b e a le rt fo r th e w hole
t r ip , a nd O ’M alle y w as th e rig ht o ne f or t he j ob.”
“ S h e w as als o pro b ab ly th e on ly one w ho w an te d to do it ,” Su m mer
w his p ere d to me.
“ S h e’s o n ly in t h e ca b o f t h e t r u ck ?” D ad a sk ed . “N ot in th e b ack w it h t h e
pan da?”
“  ere ’s n o w in dow s in t h e b ack o f t h e t r u ck ,” J .J . exp la in ed . “Y o u co uld n’t
s e e a n y tr o u ble c o m in g fr o m th ere . And be sid es, I ne ed ed D oc in th e ba ck,
keep in g a n e ye o n L i P in g.”
 at p art I k n ew . D oc D ea k in w as t h e h ea d v et a t F unJ ung le a nd o ne o f t h e
� n est z o o v ets in th e w orld . I h ad h ea rd h e’d w ant ed to se nd o ne o f th e v ets
w ho w ork ed u n der h im in th e tr u ck ins te a d — tr a v eli ng in th e ba ck o f a se m i
did n’t so u n d li k e a very en jo yab le w ay to cr oss th e co unt ry —bu t J.J . had
sta u n ch ly r efu se d , in sis tin g th at w here t he p and a w as co nce rne d, h e ne ed ed t he
best m an h e h ad .

“S o D oc’s b een rid in g in th e b ack of a tru ck for a w hole d ay ?” I a sk ed .
“It’s n ot a s b ad a s y o u’d th in k,” J.J . to ld m e. “In fa ct , w e � xed th ing s u p
pre tty d arn n ice fo r b oth D oc and L i P ing . I h ad th e ent ir e int erio r o f th e
tr u ck cu sto m iz e d . D oc has a co uch , a be d, and a T V w it h a D VD p la y er. It’s
n ice r t h an a lo t o f h ote l r o om s I ’v e s e en. And L i P ing h as h er o w n s e p ara te a re a
a n d a ll th e b am boo s h e ca n e a t. Fra n kly , it ’s p ro ba bly b een li k e a v aca tio n fo r
th e b oth o f th em .”
I ca ugh t M om a n d D ad sh arin g a lo ok. It a p pea re d th ey d id n’t th ink D oc
w ou ld h av e co nsid ere d th is a v aca tio n a t a ll. B ut ne it h er s aid a nyth ing to J .J .
M y p h on e b u zze d in m y p ock et. I h ea rd S u m mer’s d o th e sa m e th ing ,
which m ea n t so m eo n e w as tr y ing to re a ch both o f u s a t o n ce . I h ad a p re tt y
g o od id ea w ho it w as b efo re I e ven ch eck ed m y p hone .
As I’d su sp ecte d, it w as X avie r G onz ale z, m y b est fr ie nd . Xav ie r w as an
an im al f a n atic. He w as cr ea tin g h is o w n z o o a t h om e; his r o om w as � lle d w it h
a q u ariu m s h old in g li z a rd s a n d s n ak es h e’d ca ugh t in th e w ood s, as w ell a s � sh
a n d a sso rte d sm all ro d en ts . Every w eek , he sp ent h is e nt ir e a llo w ance o n pet
fo od . He id oli z e d �eld bio lo gis ts — li k e m y m oth er—t he w ay oth er kid s
id oli z e d p ro fe ssio n al a th le te s.
 e te xt s aid : I’m at t he f ro n t ga te s!
S u m mer a n d I b oth tu rn ed a ro u nd . Su re e no ugh , X av ie r w as a t th e g ate s,
p re sse d u p a g ain st th e b ars. Lik e a lm ost e v ery o ne e ls e , he w as w ea ring bl ack
an d w hit e a n d L i P in g e a rs, th ou gh t o m y s u rp ris e , his o u t� t w as a t u xed o. H e
wav ed to u s e x cite dly a n d sh ou te d so m eth ing , th ou gh I co uld n’t h ea r it o ver
th e c ro w d. X avie r’s m oth er s to od n ex t t o h im , ob vio u sly t h ere a g ains t h er w ill;
t h e l ook o n h er f ace cl ea rly s aid s he w ou ld r ath er be ba ck hom e i n be d.
“X avie r’s h ere ,” I to ld m y m oth er. “ C an I go s ay h i? ”
“ O f co urse .” M om spotte d X avie r a nd wav ed t o h im .
“I’m gon na s ta y o ver h ere ,” S um mer t old m e.
“ Y o u d on’t w an t to talk to Xavie r?” I a sk ed .
“S u re I d o, b ut . . . ”
A fe w P an daM an ia cs n ea r X avie r lo oked to se e w ho h e w as w av ing to ,
sp otte d S u m mer, an d s h rie k ed .  ey s e em ed ev en m ore e x cite d t o s e e h er t h an
th e p an da. W ord q u ick ly r ip ple d t h ro u gh t h e cr ow d t h at S u m mer w as a ro u nd ,
an d so on ev ery o n e h ad w hip ped ou t th eir ce ll p h one s an d sta rte d ta k ing

pictu re s— ev en th ou gh th ey w ere all so fa r aw ay fr o m S u m mer, sh e w ou ld
p ro b ab ly o nly b e a d ot in th eir p hoto s.
“  at’s w hy,” S um mer � nis h ed .
“O h. R ig h t,” I said .
“S ay h i to h im fo r m e.” S u m mer g av e th e cr ow d a fr ie nd ly w av e, w hich
r e su lt e d in a ro ar o f a p pro val.  en sh e sli p ped b eh ind so m e la nd sca ping so
th ey co uld n’t s ee h er a nym ore , w hich spark ed a ch oru s o f d is a p point ed g ro ans .
I h ea d ed o ver to se e X avie r, fe eli ng b ad fo r S u m mer. Sh e k ne w sh e w as
lu ck y to b e so rich , bu t th ere w ere m an y tim es w hen her fa m e ca use d h er
tr o u ble . Sh e r a re ly h ad th e ch an ce to d o a n yth ing no rm al, li k e e a t lu nch in a
re sta u ra n t o r p la y ca tch in th e p ark , wit h ou t to ta l str a n gers acco sting h er.
I n ste a d , s he h ad to eit h er d is g u is e h erse lf o r k eep h erse lf cl ois te re d .
A s I ap pro ach ed th e g ate s, I fe lt th e re sid u al eff ect s o f h er fa m e. Peo p le
s ta rte d s h ou tin g a t m e, sim ply b eca use I ’d b een nea r h er: “W ho a re y o u ?” “ A re
y o u S u m m er’s b oyfr ie n d o r s o m eth ing ?” “ C an yo u g et h er t o co me o ver h ere ?”
“ T ell h er I love h er!”
I d id m y b est to ignore th em and f o cu s o n X av ie r.
“ I’v e b een tr y in g to g et y o u r atte nt io n fo r � ve m inu te s!” h e ch id ed as I
ap pro ach ed .
“S o rr y ,” I said . “ We d id n’t s ee y ou .”
“ I’v e b een rig ht h ere , w avin g!”
I p oin te d to w ard h is b la ck -a n d-w hit e o u t� t. “W ell, yo u so rt o f b le nd ed in
w it h th e cr ow d.”
X avie r g re w o ff en ded . “ ese p eo p le a re w ea ring T -s h ir ts .  is is a t u xed o! I
r e n te d it ju st fo r th is o cca sio n ! D o y o u h av e a ny id ea h ow h ard it is to � nd a
tu xed o in m y s iz e ? I h ad to go a ll t he w ay t o S an A nto ni o t o g et i t!”
“ It’s s till b la ck a n d w hit e .” I a v o id ed m ent io ni ng t h at, d esp it e a ll t h e t r o u bl e
he’d g o n e th ro u gh to � n d it , it still d id n’t � t h im v ery w ell. But th en, th ey
p ro b ab ly d id n’t m ak e a lo t o f tu xed os in Xav ie r’s siz e . N ot o nl y w as h e a k id ,
bu t h e w as sh ort a n d o verw eig h t, w it h a b ig b elly a nd stu bb y le g s. W hile th e
w ais tb an d o f th e tu xed o p an ts str a ine d o ver h is sto m ach , th e sle ev es a nd le g s
w ere b un ch ed loose ly a ro u n d h is w ris ts a nd ankle s.
B efo re X avie r co uld sa y an yth in g els e ab ou t h is fo rm al w ea r, his m oth er
sp oke, so u n din g e xa sp era te d . “T ed dy, do y o u k no w w hen th is p and a is a ct ually

go in g to get h ere ?”
S ev era l o th er p eo p le in th e cr ow d e ch oed t his q uestio n.
“S o on ,” I said .
“H ow soon ?” X avie r’s m oth er p re sse d .
 e b la st o f a n a ir h orn e ch oed in th e d is ta n ce , and a se m i ro ll e d in to th e
fa r e nd o f th e p ark in g l ot.  e e ntir e cr ow d t urne d t ow ard it e xp ect ant ly .
“ H ow abou t n ow ?” I a sk ed .
A rum ble o f e xcite men t b eg an .  e cr ow d s urg ed t ow ard t he t ru ck .
As e v ery o n e m oved a w ay fr o m t h e g ate s, I g o t a cl ea re r v ersio n of L i P ing ’s
r id e. It lo oked li k e alm ost ev ery o th er tr a ct or-tr a ile r I’d ev er se en. If it h ad
p asse d m e o n th e h ig h w ay, I pro b ab ly w ou ld n’t h av e l ooked t w ice at i t.
I lo oked b ack to w ard m y p are n ts a n d sa w th at th ey, alo ng w it h S u m mer,
J .J ., an d H oen ek ker, w ere n ow o n th e m ove, cr ossing th e e nt ry p la za . M om
w av ed f or m e to join th em quick ly . I sta rte d a ft e r t hem .
“W ait !” X avie r y elle d t o m e. “Is t h ere a ny w ay y o u ca n le t m e a nd m y m om
in to see th e p an da?”
“I d on’t ev en g et to se e th e p an da y et,” I inf orm ed h im , alt h ou gh I w as
se cr etly h op in g th at m ig h t n ot be th e ca se . “ ey ’r e li m it ing h er co ntact w it h
p eo p le s o s he d oesn ’t g et s ick .”
X avie r fr o w ned , li k e I w as b ein g a b ad fr ie nd so m eh ow . It m ad e m e fe el
g u ilt y , ev en t h ou gh I ’d n ev er p ro m is e d h im a ny th ing . “S o rr y ,” I s a id , th en ra n
aft e r e very o n e e ls e .
 e cr ow d w as n ow s o a m ped u p, I co uld fe el t h e e ne rg y r o lli ng o ff it .  e
Pan daM an ia cs b eg an to ch an t, “L i P ing ! L i P ing ! L i P ing !” T V ca mera m en
cl am bere d o n to p o f th eir n ew s v ans to � lm the s em i’s a rriv al.
I p asse d b y th e g ate w here P ete  wack er w as h old ing co urt in fr o nt o f a
th ro n g o f r e p orte rs. “A s y o u ca n s e e,” h e w as t e lli ng t h em , m uste ring a s m uch
gra vita s a s h e co uld , “L i P in g h as � na lly re a ch ed th e e nd o f h er e p ic jo u rne y,
a n d w it h h er a rriv al, a w on derfu l ne w era i n F unJ ung le ’s h is to ry be gins .”
 e se m i v eere d a w ay fr o m th e m ain gate s, hea d ing o nt o th e se rv ice ro ad
th at le d to th e em plo yee are a of th e park . It su ddenl y daw ne d on th e
Pan daM an ia cs th at, desp it e all th e tr o u bl e th ey ’d g o ne th ro u gh to g re et L i
Pin g, th ey p ro b ab ly w ere n ’t g o in g to se e h er a t a ll.  e ch an ts o f “ L i P ing !”

fa d ed a n d w ere re p la ce d b y b ooin g.  e cr ow d a ng rily re tu rne d to th e fr o nt
gate s a nd s hook th e b ars. S om eo n e t hre w a bo ttle i nt o t he e nt ry p la za .
H oen ek ker g o t o n h is r a d io a n d s p oke t o h is m en ou ts id e t h e g ate s. “L ooks
li k e t h in gs a re g ettin g u gly o u t t h ere . D o w hat y o u ca n to ca lm t h e cr ow ds, bu t
do n ot— I re p ea t, do n ot— use fo rce a g ains t a ny one .  ere a re n ew s ca mera s
ev ery w here , an d th e la st th in g w e n eed is fo ota g e o f a F unJ ung le em plo yee
ro u gh in g u p s om eo n e d re sse d a s a p and a.”
A s th e F un Ju n gle se cu rit y fo rce s m oved in on th e cr ow ds, J.J ., Su m mer,
H oen ek ker, M om , D ad , an d I p asse d int o F unJ ung le ’s em plo yee are a and
h ea d ed fo r th e a n im al h osp it a l. Ins te a d o f g o ing ins id e it , th ou gh , w e lo op ed
a ro u n d t o t h e lo ad in g d ock s.  e s e m i w as a lr e a d y t h ere , be ep ing a w arni ng a s
it b ack ed u p to th e b uild in g.
D ad � lm ed s om e f oota g e o f th is .
M arg e O ’M alle y w as le a n in g o u t th e p asse ng er w ind ow o f th e tr u ck ’s ca b,
te lli n g th e d riv er h ow to b ack u p, ev en th ou gh h e’d ce rta inl y d one it m any
tim es befo re w it h ou t her help . “T ak e it slo w ly no w,” M arg e w as sa y ing .
“E asy  . . . ea sy  . . . ”
“M is sio n s ta tu s?” H oen ek ker ca lle d t o h er.
“ A -o kay !” M arg e r ep orte d . “ It a ll w ent exact ly a s p la nne d, C hie f.”
 e s e m i s to p ped w it h t h e r e a r d oors r ig h t a t t h e e d ge o f t h e lo ad ing d ock .
 ere w as a h is s fr o m th e air b ra k es, and th en th e tr u ck sh uddere d as th e
en gin e cu t o ff.
“ at’s p erfe ct! ” M arg e to ld th e d riv er, ev en th ou gh th e tr u ck h ad a lr e a d y
sto p ped . “ Park h er rig ht h ere !”
J .J . hop ped u p o n to th e lo ad in g d ock . D esp it e b eing a b it o ld er th an my
pare n ts , he w as sp ry a s a n e ig h t- y ea r-o ld —no t to m ent io n as e x cit e d a s o ne .
He r a p ped o n t h e d ou ble d oors a t t h e r e a r o f t h e t r a ile r a nd ca lle d o u t, “G ood
n ew s, D oc! Y ou m ad e it! H ow ’s o ur p and a d oing ?”
 ere w as n o an sw er fr o m in sid e. I � gu re d m ay be I co uld n’t h ea r D oc’s
r e p ly — or m ay b e h e w as asle ep . H e’d b een on th e ro ad fo r n ea rly eig h te en
h ou rs s tr a ig h t.
J .J . se em ed co nce rn ed , th ou gh . H e b an ged o n th e re a r o f th e tr u ck a g ain.
H ard er n ow . “ Doc! A nsw er m e! I f y ou t hink this i s f un ny , it’s n ot!”

Now e v ery o n e s ta rte d t o g ro w w orr ie d . Su m mer ne r vo u sly b it h er lo w er li p .
M om gav e m e a n a nxio us g la n ce . D ad k ep t o n � lm ing .
Hoen ek ker ca lle d o ut to M arg e a gain. “ Yo u’r e s ure D oc’s b ack there ?”
“ O f co urse I’m su re ,” M arg e sa id co n� dent ly , hop ping ou t of th e ca b.
“W here e ls e co uld h e b e? H e g o t in th e t r a ile r a ft e r o u r p it s to p in Las C ru ce s
an d w e’v e b een d rivin g e ver s in ce .”
J .J . ban ged o n t h e d oors o n e la st t im e, th en re a ch ed fo r t h e h and le s. It w as
o n ly n ow t h at h e— an d t h e r e st o f u s—no tice d s o m eth ing w as w ro ng w it h t h e
lo ck .  ere s h ou ld h av e b een a s ta n dard , key -o p era te d d ea d b olt , bu t ins te a d ,
th ere w as o n ly a h ole w it h s co rch m ark s a ro u nd it . J.J . yan ked o n th e h and le s
a n d th e d oors s w un g o pen .
 e r e st o f u s co uld n’t s e e in sid e t h e t r u ck y et, as w e w ere n ’t o n th e lo ad ing
d ock . J.J . co uld , th ou gh , an d w hat h e s a w m ad e h im g asp in sh ock .  e co lo r
d ra in ed f ro m his f ace .
“D ad dy?” S um mer a sk ed , r ea lly w orrie d no w. “ W hat’s w ro ng ?”
J .J . w as so stu n ned , he d id n’t e v en ans wer. It w as o ne o f th e � rst tim es I ’d
e v er se en h im sp eech le ss. H e sim ply sta re d int o th e b ack o f th e tr u ck , as
th ou gh h e co uld n’t b eli e v e h is e yes.
 e r est o f u s s cra mble d u p o nto t h e l oad ing dock as w ell.
L i P in g’s ca ge an d all o f D oc’s fu rni tu re w ere in th e ba ck o f th e tr u ck ,
exa ctl y w here th ey s hou ld h av e b ee n.
B ut b oth D oc a nd th e p an da w ere g one .

SC EN E O F T H E C RIM E
With in fi fte en m in ute s, th e se mi w as a fu ll- s ca le crim e sce ne.
A lt h ou gh F un Ju n gle S ecu rit y w as m ostly sta ff ed b y ni tw it s , C hie f H oene kker
h im se lf w as e xtr em ely co mpete n t. A t h is be hest, th re e o ffi ce rs h ad br ou gh t h im
a crim in al in vestig atio n k it a n d th en be en poste d a ro u nd th e lo ad ing d ock to
k eep un au th oriz e d perso n nel aw ay. J.J . want ed to keep th e pand a’s
d is a p pea ra n ce a se cr et, ev en fr o m his em plo yees, so th e gu ard s to ld any
p ote n tia l o n lo okers t h at t h ey w ere t o s te er cl ea r o f t h e lo ad ing d ock in ord er t o
p ro te ct Li P in g’s sa fe ty . M ea n w hile , H oene kker w ent to w ork se a rch ing th e
in te rio r o f th e tra ile r f or cl ues.
O nly tw o o th er p eo p le w ere a llo w ed in th e tr a ile r w it h h im . O ne w as m y
fa th er. In ste a d o f d ocu men tin g t h e a rriv al o f t h e p an da, he w as n ow r e co rd ing
t h e s ce ne f or th e in vestig atio n .
 e o th er p erso n w as m e. H oen ek ker h ad n’t b een ple a se d a bo ut th is , bu t
J.J . had in sis te d . A nd w hen J .J . had h is m ind se t o n so m eth ing , th ere w as no
ta lk in g h im o u t o f it . E sp ecia lly w hen he co uld � re y o u . “T ed dy’s h ad a h and
in so lvin g e v ery m ajo r crim e th at’s ta k en pla ce h ere ,” h e’d d ecl are d . “I’m no t
keep in g h im on th e s id eli n es w hen m y t op v et a nd m y p and a a re m is sing .”
 e w ay h e sa id it , I d id n’t h av e m uch ch oice in th e m atte r eit h er. I
de� n it e ly w an te d t o h elp � n d D oc and L i P ing , bu t e v en th ou gh I ’d h ad s o m e
su cce ss s olvin g crim es a t F un Ju n gle be fo re , I w as s till o nl y a k id . B eing ask ed —
or r e a lly to ld — to a id H oen ek ker in h is in vestig atio n was d au nt ing . A nd y et, it
d id n’t s eem lik e a g ood id ea to say no .

So H oen ek ker le t m e in to t h e crim e s ce ne —a lt h ou gh h e w arne d m e t o g iv e
h im sp ace a n d n ot to u ch a n yth ing .  en he sli p ped o n a p air o f li ne n glo ves
a n d w en t to work .
M ea n w hile , M arg e d esp era te ly w ant ed to b e a p art o f th e inv estig atio n.
O nly , sh e w as in th e d ogh ou se fo r le tting L i P ing a nd D oc dis a p p ea r in th e
� rst p la ce. Sh e sto od o ff to th e sid e o f th e lo ad ing d ock w hile P ete  wack er
w en t b alli s tic on h er. Pete d id n’t lo se h is co ol v ery o ft e n—s ta y ing ca lm u nd er
p re ssu re w as p art o f h is jo b — bu t n ow it a p pea re d t h at e v ery bi t o f fr u str a tio n
h e’d b ottle d u p o ver th e p ast fe w w eek s w as sp ew ing o u t o f h im .  ere w ere
p ro b ab ly o th er th in gs h e s h ou ld h av e be en doing , bu t a t t h e m om en t, he w as
� ip pin g o ut. “ How co uld y ou lose t he p and a?” h e s cr ea m ed .
“ is w asn ’t m y f au lt ,” M arg e s aid d efe ns iv ely .
“  en w hose fa u lt w as it ? ” P ete d em an ded . “Y o u w ere th e o nl y se cu rit y
o ffi ce r o n d u ty .  is w asn ’t a s ig h ts e eing tr ip ! Y o u h ad a jo b to d o: m ak e s u re
th e p an da g ot h ere . A nd g uess w hat?  ere ’s n o p and a!”
“ I’m aw are o f th at,” M arg e s aid .
“A re yo u aw are o f h ow m uch tim e, ene rg y, and m one y it h as ta k en to
a rra n ge fo r a p an da to co me to F unJ ung le ?” P ete y elle d . H is n orm ally p erfe ct
co mple xio n w as n ow m ottle d re d fr o m ra g e. H e lo oked li k e a to m ato w it h
te eth . “A re y o u a w are h ow a n gry t h e C hine se a re g o ing t o be ?  ey d on’t h and
o u t p an das li k e t h ey ’r e f o rtu n e co okie s! I t t o ok u s � ve y ea rs t o n eg o tia te g etting
t h is an im al! F iv e yea rs! J.J . had to ca ll in a th ou sa n d fa v o rs. H e pu t h is
r e p u ta tio n o n t h e li n e. W e s p en t m illi o ns bu ild ing a s p eci al p and a f a ci li t y ! A nd
m ore m illi o n s o n a d vertis in g a n d p ro m otio n. All o f w hich d oesn ’t m ea n sq u at
if w e d on’t h av e a fre a k in g p an da!”
M arg e g la n ce d t o w ard J .J . M cC ra ck en, as t h ou gh h op ing h e m ig h t co me t o
h er a id . B ut J .J . w ou ld n’t e v en m ak e e y e co ntact w it h h er, w hich ind ica te d h e
w as a s a n gry w it h M arg e a s P ete w as. H e w as s im ply le tting P ete d o th e d ir ty
w ork . I co uld u n dersta n d w hy. Pete w asn ’t ex ag gera ting w hat J.J . had g o ne
th ro u gh t o g et L i P in g. Su m mer h ad t o ld m e a b ou t t h e w hole p ro ce ss. J.J . had
a lo t o f b u sin ess in te re sts in C hin a, and h e’d h ad to u se e v ery o ne o f th em a s
le v era g e w it h th e C hin ese g o vern m ent . H e’d m ad e p le nt y o f b ack ro om d ea ls
a n d p ro m is e s, an d n ow t h at t h e p and a w as m is sing , ea ch o f t h ose co uld co me
back to hau n t h im .

Even s o , M arg e lo oked s o b ea te n d ow n b y P ete ’s a n ger t h at I a lm ost f e lt ba d
fo r h er. A lm ost, bu t n ot q u it e . B eca use M arg e h ad b era te d m e p le nt y o f t im es
— an d I h ad n ev er r e a lly d ese rv ed it . M ea n w hile , sh e h ad r e a lly m esse d u p bi g
now , le ttin g th e p an da— an d D oc—v ani sh o n her w atch . I w as p re tty u pse t
w it h h er a bou t th at m yse lf .
E very o n e e ls e se em ed e q u ally a n noyed . M y m oth er a n d S u m mer li ng ere d
o u ts id e th e tr u ck , gla rin g at M arg e. Dad w as m ostly hid den behind his
ca mera , bu t I co uld t e ll h e w as u pse t t o o. A nd H oene kker w asn ’t e v en tr y ing t o
h id e h is a nger a s h e p oked a ro u n d t he cr im e s ce ne .
“H ow o n e arth d id s he m is s a ll th is ?” h e m utte re d .
“M is s w hat? ” D ad a sk ed .
“ is , fo r sta rte rs.” H oen ek ker p oint ed to w here th e lo ck h ad be en on th e
re a r d oo rs o f t h e s e m i. W hile t h e h ole h ad b een ra th er s m all o n th e o u ts id e o f
th e d oors, on th e in sid e it w as m uch la rg er, th e siz e o f a b ase ba ll.  e m eta l
w as p eele d b ack a n d s co rch ed a s t h ou gh a m ete o r h ad b la ste d t h ro u gh it . “ e
th ie v es u se d a n e xp lo siv e t o b lo w t h e lo ck o ff . Pro ba bly C -4, bu t I w on’t k no w
un til w e g et it a n aly ze d b y a la b . I h av e n o id ea h ow th ey d id it o n a m oving
t r u ck , bu t I ca n g u ara n te e y o u , it w ou ld n’t h av e b een qu ie t. A nd y et, M arg e
d id n’t h av e a cl ue th at it h ap pen ed .”
D ad s nap ped a few p hoto s o f th e h ole .
O n t h e lo ad in g d ock , M om t r ie d ca lli ng D oc’s ce ll p h one , w hich s h e’d be en
d oin g e v ery t w o m in ute s s in ce le a rni ng h e’d d is a p pea re d . I co uld t e ll fr o m t h e
lo ok o n h er fa ce th at th is ca ll, li k e a ll th e o th ers, had g o ne str a ig h t to D oc’s
v o ice mail. “ Still n o a nsw er o n D oc’s p hone ,” s he r ep orte d .
“Y o u’r e w astin g y o u r tim e,” H oene kker to ld h er. “W hoev er sn atch ed h im
w ere n ’t a m ate u rs. W e’r e n ot g on na h ea r s qu at f ro m D oc u ntil t hey w ant us t o.”
H e m oved o n t o t h e p an da’s ca ge, w hich w as s e t a lo ng t h e d riv er’s -s id e w all
a t t h e r e a r o f t h e t r u ck , w here it w ou ld h av e be en ea sie st t o g et L i P ing in and
o u t.  e ca ge w as tw elv e fe et lo n g a nd s ix fe et w id e, w hich w ou ld h av e g iv en
L i P in g p le n ty o f ro om , alt h ou gh th is o nl y le ft u s a tw o-fo ot g ap to sq u ee ze
p ast it a lo n g th e o pposit e w all.
T ra n sp ortin g a p an da— or an y zo o an im al— was a co mpli ca te d ta sk . Yo u
co uld n’t e xp la in t o a n a n im al t h at it w as g o ing t o b e in an un fa m ili a r co n� ned
sp ace , li k e a t r u ck o r a n a ir p la n e, fo r h ou rs, if no t d ay s. So if y o u s im ply t r ie d

to m ove th e a n im al w it h ou t a n y p re p ara tio n, it w ou ld str e ss o u t. (S o m etim es
th ey co uld ev en d ie fr o m th e anx ie ty .) T o p re v ent th is , th e k eep ers h ad to
p re p are th e a n im als fo r tr a v el. I n L i P in g’s ca se , th is h ad ta k en six m ont hs o f
tr a in in g.
 e � rst s te p h ad b een to get L i P ing use d t o be ing in a cage.  e k eep ers i n
San D ie g o h ad tr a in ed h er to g o ins id e o ne fo r incr ea sing ly lo ng p erio d s o f
tim e b y re w ard in g h er w it h tr e a ts li k e a p ple s a n d y am s.  en th ey p ra ct ice d
li f t in g h er in th e ca ge w it h a fo rk li f t and m oving it to a sim ula tio n of th e
tr u ck , w here s h e w ou ld b e t r a n sfe rre d t o t h e s o m ew hat la rg er ca ge ins id e.  e
actu al tr u ck w as se n t to S an D ie g o a m ont h a h ea d o f th e m ove, and L i P ing
s p en t th at tim e g ettin g u se d to it.
How ev er, on ce L i P in g w as co mfo rta b le in th e tr u ck , th ere w as s till p le nt y
le ft to co ord in ate .  e tim in g o f h er d eli v ery h ad b een pla n ne d d ow n to th e
m in ute . It w as n o m is ta k e t h at t h e d riv e h ad b een done o verni gh t; th e i d ea w as
to b e o n th e ro ad s w hen th e fe w est o th er d riv ers w ere —a nd th us, th e le a st
ch an ce o f a n a ccid en t. P lu s, it w ou ld a ls o b e s ig ni �ca ntly co ole r in th e t r u ck a t
n ig h t th an d u rin g th e d ay. (G ir a ff es w ere p articu la rly tr ick y to d eli v er, since
t h ey w ere s o t a ll; th ey n eed ed s p eci al t r u ck s w it h h ole s i n th e r o of t o s tick t h eir
n eck s th ro u gh , an d th e ro u te s th ey to ok h ad to be ca re fu lly p la nne d to a v o id
a n y l ow b rid ges.)
B y a ll a cco un ts , th ou gh , Li P in g h ad h and le d h er tr u ck tr a ini ng p erfe ct ly .
S h ort o f th e tra ffic d ela y a t th e e nd, t he t rip h ad g one exact ly a s p la nne d.
E xce pt f or th e p art w here th e p an da a nd Doc h ad v an is h ed .
 e p an da ca ge w as e m pty , sa v e fo r a s ca tt e ring o f b am boo b it s a n d a la rg e
p la stic b all, w hich Li P in g h ad p ro b ab ly be en g iv en t o k eep h erse lf s tim ula te d .
 e g ate o f th e ca ge w as a im ed to w ard th e re a r d oors o f th e tr a ile r. It h ad
b een lo ck ed w it h a n oth er d ea d b olt a n d t h en wra p ped w it h a p ad lo ck ed ch ain
f o r go od m ea su re .  e ch ain n ow d an gle d lo ose ly , tw o o f th e th ick li nk s
sn ap ped o p en , while th e d ea d bo lt h ad b een rip ped ap art. “L ooks li k e th e
th ie v es u se d b olt cu tte rs a n d a cr ow bar,” H oene kker o bs erv ed . H e d id n’t s e em
to b e sh arin g in fo rm atio n w it h m e so m uch as ta lk ing th ing s th ro u gh to
h im se lf , tr y in g t o m ak e s e n se o f h ow t h e cr im e h ad p la y ed o u t. “Q uie te r t h an
b lo w in g th e b olt o ff , bu t it w ou ld h av e ta k en qu it e a b it lo ng er. M ay be a fe w
m in ute s.”

“S o w hy d id n’t th ey j u st b lo w it o pen, t he s am e a s t he ba ck door?” I a sk ed .
H oen ek ker g av e m e a d is a p point ed lo ok. “Y o u ca n’t � gu re th at o ne o u t
yo u rse lf , S herlo ck ?”
I t h ou gh t a b ou t it , th en ca me u p w it h a n id ea . “B eca use b lo w ing s tu ff u p is
d an gero u s?”
“  at’s o n e r e a so n .  e b ack o f t h is t r u ck is a n encl ose d s p ace . N ot a g re a t
p la ce fo r a n e xp lo sio n , no m atte r h ow co ntro lle d it is . O ur k id na ppers d id n’t
w an t to hurt th em se lv es.”
“ O r th e p an da,” I suggeste d .
H oen ek ker co nsid ere d th at, th en sh ru gged no nco mmit ta lly a n d tu rne d to
m y f ath er. “ Ja ck , ca n y ou g et s om e p hoto s o f t his ?”
“ S u re th in g,” D ad a gre ed . “ Ju st th e g ate ?”
“ S ta rt w it h th at a n d th en , heck , yo u m ig h t a s w ell g et a ny th ing th at s e em s
of in te re st.  ere ’s n o s uch th in g a s t oo m an y cr im e-s ce ne photo s.”
D ad n od ded in ag re em en t, th en se t to w ork .  e ins id e of th e tr u ck
� ick ere d w it h th e b la sts o f h is � ash .
B ack o n t h e lo ad in g d ock , M arg e w as s till p le a d ing h er ca se t o P ete . “I d on’t
s e e w hy e v ery o n e’s so a n gry a t m e . W hat a b ou t th e d riv ers?  ey w ere rig h t
th ere w it h m e th e w hole tim e.”
“  eir jo b w as to d riv e th e tr u ck ,” P ete inf orm ed h er. “Y o u r jo b was to
p ro te ct it. ”
“E ven s o , th ey d id n’t h ea r a n yth in g e it h er,” M arg e p oint ed o u t. “I’m no t t h e
on ly o ne.”
 is w as a so m ew hat v ali d p oin t.  ere h ad b een tw o o th er p eo p le in th e
ca b s o t h at t h e d riv e co uld b e m ad e in one s h ot; a s ing le d riv er w ou ld h av e t o
s to p to sle ep .  ere w as a sp ace in th e b ack o f th e tr u ck ’s ca b fo r w hoev er
w asn ’t d rivin g t o s le ep o r r e la x. It w as e ig h t f e et lo ng a n d f o u r f e et w id e, w it h a
n arro w b ed a nd a lit tle T V w it h a D VD p la y er a nd h ea d ph on es.
B oth d riv ers w ere sit tin g o n th e e d ge o f th e lo ad ing d ock . Gre g Je ff erso n ,
w ho’d d riv en th e � rst s h if t , w as a b ig , be ard ed be ar o f a m an. Ju an Vela sq u ez,
w ho’d d riv en th e se co nd h alf , w as sm all a nd w ir y . Both lo oked co nsid era bl y
m ore u pse t a b ou t th e m is sin g p and a a n d v ete rina ria n th an M arg e d id . N ow
th at M arg e h ad p oin te d th e � n ger a t b oth o f th em , th ey h ad v ery d iff ere nt

re a ctio ns. Ju an gre w ev en m ore upse t, as th ou gh he bla m ed him se lf . H e
nod ded a nd s aid , “  at’s tr ue. W e d id n’t h ea r a nyth ing .”
M ea n w hile , G re g g o t a n gry a t M arg e. “W e h ad o th er t h ing s o n ou r m ind s,”
h e s n arle d . “D rivin g t h is t r u ck a in ’t a s e a sy a s y o u t h ink . A nd w e h ad a n aw fu l
tig h t sch ed u le to fo llo w . You w ere su ppose d to b e k eep in g a n e y e o u t fo r a n y
tr o u ble , n ot u s.”
“ I w as k eep in g a n e y e o u t fo r tr o u ble ,” M arg e sa id , getting h er d an der u p.
“I’m ju st sa y in g, th ere w ere th re e o f u s, and n one o f u s se ns ed a ny th ing w as
w ro n g. So I d on’t u n dersta n d w hy I’m th e o ne g etting ra k ed o ver th e co als
h ere .”
“ B eca use y o u s cr ew ed u p!” P ete s cr ea m ed . “In th e h is to ry o f e p ic fa ils , th is
is u p th ere w it h ste erin g th e T it a n ic in to a n ice berg ! W e h av e sp en t th e la st
th re e m on th s te lli n g th e e n tir e w orld to co me h ere to s e e o u r p and a a nd no w
we d on’t h av e a p an da f or th em to see!”
“ W e’r e a ls o m is sin g a perso n ,” M om poin te d o ut q uie tly .
“ Y es!” P ete sa id q u ick ly , in a w ay th at ind ica te d h e h ad a ct ually fo rg o tte n
D oc w as m is sin g to o. “  ere ’s th at a s w ell. D o y o u h av e a n y id ea h ow u pse t h is
f a m ily is goin g to be?”
“ S p ea k in g o f w hich , h as a nyo n e to ld t hem ?” J .J. a sk ed .
 ere w as a n u nco mfo rta b le s ile n ce as w e a ll r ea li z e d no one had .
J.J . lo oked t o P ete . “A s o u r h ea d o f P R , perh ap s it ’d b e b est if y o u t o ok ca re
o f th at. Pro n to . I b eli e v e b y n ow M arg e is a w are o f h ow b ad ly sh e’s scr ew ed
u p.”
P ete re a li z e d th is w asn ’t a su ggestio n so m uch a s a n o rd er. H e to ok a fe w
d eep bre a th s to ca lm h im se lf , th en fo u nd th e cl ose st re � ect iv e su rfa ce —a
win dow — an d sm ooth ed h is h air a n d tig h te ne d th e k n ot o n his tie . “Y o u’r e
r ig h t, J.J . So m eth in g of th is natu re need s to be hand le d by so m eo ne
co mpete n t.” H e g av e M arg e o ne l ast na sty l ook a nd sto rm ed o ff.
B eh in d h is b ack , M arg e m ad e a face at h im .
H oen ek ker m oved fa rth er in to th e tr a ile r o f th e s e m i, past th e p and a ca ge.
D ad a nd I follo w ed h im , D ad s nap ping pict ure s t he w hole w ay.
Ju st b ey o n d th e ca ge w as a fu ll- s iz e re fr ig era to r. W hile th e tr u ck h ad be en
d rivin g, th e re fr ig era to r h ad ru n o ff th e ele ct rica l sy ste m , bu t ev en no w it
h um med , p ow ere d b y a sep ara te g ene ra to r.

Hoen ek ker s nap ped o n a p air o f s urg ica l g lo ves a nd opene d it.
 ere w as b am boo in sid e. S ev era l s hea v es o f i t.
“  ey h av e to refr ig era te th e b am bo o?” I a sk ed .
“T o k eep it fr o m w ilt in g,” D ad ex p la ine d. “F ro m w hat I u nd ersta nd , Li
Pin g w as a p ick y ea te r.  ey w an te d to k eep h er as co ntent as p ossibl e en
ro u te .”
H oen ek ker cl ose d th e r efr ig era to r a nd w e m oved o n. S ince we w ere f ar f ro m
th e re a r d oors n ow , th ere w as le ss li g h t, th ou gh w e co uld still se e all rig h t.
D oc’s q u arte rs w ere m uch n ice r t h an I ’d e x p ect ed .  e s p ace w as a bo ut t w elv e
fe et lo n g a n d e ig h t fe et w id e. O n th e w all o f th e se m i fa rth est fr o m th e re a r
d oors— th e r e v erse s id e o f t h e t r u ck ’s ca b—a � at- s cr een T V w as m ou n te d w it h
a co uch f a cin g it . T o t h e s id e o f t h e co uch w as a s m all t a b le w it h a la m p bo lt e d
to t h e t o p s o it w ou ld n’t t o p ple o ff if t h e t r u ck m ad e a s h arp t u rn. Betw een th e
co uch a n d th e p an da ca ge w as a tw in bed .  e fu rni tu re w as b ette r q u ali t y
th an o urs b ack hom e a nd s eem ed co mfo rta b le e no ugh .
 e o n ly th in g th at lo oked u n usu al w as th e b ed .  e s h eets w ere n ’t m ere ly
r u m ple d ; th ey w ere tw is te d u p a nd p artly p ulle d o ff the m att r e ss.
“ L ooks l ik e D oc w as y an ked o ut o f t he be d,” I o bs erv ed .
H oen ek ker g av e m e a sid elo n g g la n ce . It se em ed li k e h e m ig h t h av e be en
e it h er a n noyed o r im pre sse d b y m y s ta te m ent , bu t I co uld n’t t e ll w hich . “W hy
do y ou s ay th at? ”
“ E r .  . . ,” I h em med , n ow o n t h e s p ot. “B eca use m ost p eo p le d on’t k ick t h e
sh eets o ff li k e t h at w hen t h ey s le ep . O r I d on’t , at le a st. B ut i f D oc w as s le ep ing
i n th ere a n d so m eo n e p u lle d h im o u t, m ay be th e sh eets m ig h t h av e co me o ff
to o.”
H oen ek ker gav e th e tin ie st of no ds. “It does ap pea r he w as fo rci bl y
re m oved . A lt h ou gh , giv en th e sta te o f th e re st o f th e su rro u nd ing s, it d oesn ’t
l o ok li k e h e p u t u p m uch o f a � gh t.” H e k n elt b y th e be d, th en care fu lly r a n
h is g lo ved h an ds o ver th e s heets .
“A re y ou lookin g f or s om eth in g?” D ad a sk ed .
“ is ,” H oen ek ker sa id su dden ly . H e re m oved a w hit e w ash cl oth fr o m th e
sn arl o f s h eets a n d s to od , hold in g it a t a rm ’s le ng th fr o m h is fa ce . I g o t a fa int
w hiff o f s om eth in g k in d o f l ik e a lco hol f ro m it.
D ad q uick ly s nap ped s om e p hoto s o f i t.

“W hat’s th at? ” I a sk ed .
“C hlo ro fo rm ,” H oen ek ker re p li e d . “It a p pea rs th at w hoev er to ok L i P ing
d ru gged D oc in h is s le ep , th en m ad e o ff w it h h im , to o.” H oene kker r e m oved a
la rg e p la stic evid en ce b ag f r o m h is ja ck et p ock et, dro p ped t h e cl oth ins id e, and
se a le d it.
D ad sw ep t in to get so m e ph oto s of th e be d. I ste p ped ba ck , ta k ing
e v ery th in g in .
Hoen ek ker w as r ig h t; th ere d id n’t s e em t o be a n y s ig ns o f s tr u ggle . D oc had
b een m oved o u t as ea sily as a sa ck o f la u n dry . Besid es th e ru m ple d sh eets ,
n oth in g w as u pse t o r o vertu rn ed .  e T V are a lo oked as th ou gh D oc had
b are ly u se d it . So m eo n e h ad p ro vid ed p le nt y o f br an d-n ew D VD s fo r h im to
w atch d u rin g th e lo n g r id e, bu t th e o nl y o ne h e’d u n w ra p ped w as a N atio na l
Geo gra p h ic d ocu men ta ry a bou t l io ns in t he O kav ang o D elt a .
In t h e g la re o f a ca mera � ash , I s p otte d a n od dly s h ap ed h un k o f m eta l o n
th e � oor n ea r th e T V .  en th e li g h t fa d ed a n d th e o bj ect w as sw allo w ed b y
sh ad ow s a gain . “  ere ’s s om eth ing over t here ,” I told H oene kker, p oint ing .
 e n ext �ash illu m in ate d it a g ain. Hoene kker sa w it , th en �ip p ed o n a
�ash li g h t s o w e co uld g et a b ette r l ook.
It w as a f e w in te rlo ck ed p ie ce s o f m eta l, ch arre d a nd t w is te d , abo ut t h e s iz e
o f m y � st.
“ It’s th e d ea d -b olt l ock fro m th e r ea r d oors,” H oene kker s aid .
“W hat’s l eft o f it, a t l ea st,” D ad a dd ed .
“ e e xp lo siv e b le w it a ll th e w ay o ver h ere ?” I a sk ed .
“ at’s n ot to o su rp ris in g,” H oen ek ker to ld m e. “C -4 is a w fu lly p ow erfu l.
E ven a sm all b it co uld h av e s en t t hat l ock a d oze n y ard s.”
I lo oked d ow n th e le n gth o f th e tr u ck , to w ard th e re a r d oors. “W ou ld a n
exp lo sio n lik e th at b e d an gero u s?”
“ It c o u ld b e,” H oen ek ker a g re ed . “B ut th e e x p lo siv e w ou ld h av e be en on
th e o th er sid e o f th e d oors.  e b ig gest th re a t to th em w ou ld h av e p ro ba bly
been g ettin g h it b y th e l ock as it � ew o ut.”
“ W ou ld it h av e b een lou d?”
“ O f co urse .” H oen ek ker so u n ded li k e h e w as getting an no yed w it h m y
qu estio n s. “ W hat’s y ou r p oin t? ”

“ ey g ra b bed D oc ou t o f b ed ,” I ex p la ine d. “W hy d id n’t th e ex p lo sio n
w ak e h im up?”
H oen ek ker an d D ad lo oked to ea ch o th er, li k e th ey w ere su rp ris e d th ey
h ad n’t th ou gh t of th is . “M ay b e D oc had ea rp lu gs in, ” D ad su ggeste d . “It
p ro b ab ly w ou ld h av e b een a w fu lly l ou d in h ere w hile t he t ru ck w as m oving .”
“ O r m ay b e .  . . ,” H oen ek ker be gan , bu t th en se em ed to th ink be tte r o f
� n is h in g th e s en te n ce .
“M ay b e w hat? ” I p re sse d .
H oen ek ker m ulle d over w heth er to sh are his id ea w it h us fo r a fe w
m om en ts . F in ally , h e s aid , “ May b e D oc k new the e xp lo sio n w as co ming .”
“ Y o u m ea n , yo u th in k D oc was inv olv ed in th e cr im e?” D ad ask ed ,
in cr ed u lo u s.
“ N o w ay,” I said . “ Doc w ou ld n ev er d o a nyth ing lik e t his !”
H oen ek ker h eld u p h is h an ds, sig na li ng u s to ca lm d ow n. “I d id n’t sa y h e
did . I ’m ju st th in kin g o ut l ou d.  at’s a ll.”
“ It so u n ded li k e y o u w ere a ccu sin g h im ,” I s a id . I w ou ld h av e g o ne o n, bu t
D ad p ut a h an d o n m y s hou ld er, i nd ica ting I shou ld n’t .
“ I’m n ot accu sin g an yo n e,” H oen ek ker to ld m e. “N ot y et. H ow ev er, th e
evid en ce cl ea rly in dica te s th at w hoev er co mmit te d th is cr im e had ins id e
in fo rm atio n .  is tr u ck w as d esig ne d to lo ok li k e te n th ou sa nd o th ers.  e
tim in g o f th e d eli v ery w as k ep t to p se cr et. A nd y et, ou r th ie v es k ne w e x act ly
w hat tr u ck to h it , w hen to h it it , an d h ow to h it it .  ere w ere n ’t v ery m any
p eo p le w it h th at in fo rm atio n , a nd D oc w as o ne of t hem .”
“ S o w as M arg e,” I p oin te d o ut.
T o m y s u rp ris e , H oen ek ker d id n’t d efe nd h er. Ins te a d , he s im ply a d m it te d ,
“S h e w as.”
“ I s till ca n’t im ag in e D oc bein g in vo lv ed ,” D ad s a id . “W hy o n ea rth w ou ld
h e h elp s te a l a p an da?”
“ W hy w ou ld a n yo n e s te a l a p an da, perio d ?” H oene kker’s v o ice t r a ile d o ff a s
h e n otic ed so m eth in g in th e b ea m o f h is � ash li g h t. A w hit e e nv elo p e p oked
o u t fr o m b en ea th th e co uch . It lo oked li k e it h ad b een pla ce d o n th e sm all
t a b le b ut h ad s li d o ff w hile th e tr uck w as d riv ing .
Dad k nelt a nd to ok s om e p ictu re s o f i t.

en H oen ek ker ca re fu lly p ick ed u p t h e e nv elo p e. It h ad n’t b een se a le d , so
th e �ap hun g op en , re v ea li n g a sing le sh eet of pap er ins id e. Hoene kker
re m oved it, r ea d it, th en s aid , “ Guess t his a ns wers m y q uestio n. ”
H e th en h eld it o ut s o m y f ath er a nd I co uld r ea d t he m essa g e t yp ed o n i t:
D ea r J .J. M cC ra ck en ,
If y ou w an t y ou r p an da b ack a li v e, i t w ill c ost y ou t en m illi o n d olla rs. C ash.
S ta rt ge ttin g i t t ogeth er.
M ore d eta ils t o c om e.

TH E S E C O ND B ATH IN G S U IT
T he m om en t F unJu ngle ’s fr o n t g ate s op en ed th at m orn in g,
h un dre d s o f P an daM an ia cs , un aw are t h at L i P ing w as m is sing , su rg ed t h ro u gh
an d s ta m ped ed fo r t h e p an da e xh ibi t, ea ch h op ing t o b e t h e � rst t o s e e h er. It
lo oked li k e a b la ck -a n d-w hit e tid al w av e co ursing th ro u gh th e p ark . In th eir
r u sh , th e fa n atics � atte n ed th ou sa n ds o f fr e sh ly p la nt ed � ow ers, kno cked o ver
a h ot d og ca rt, a nd n ea rly tra mple d a n u nf ortu na te g ro u nd sk eep er. ( Luck ily , h e
was a ble to avo id b ein g cr ush ed b y cl im bing a jaca ra n da t re e.)
 e n ew exh ib it w as ca lle d P an da P ala ce , an d it w as m od ele d aft e r th e
Forb id den C it y in B eiji n g, w it h re d w alls , int rica te d eco ra tio n, and a cu rv ed
tile ro of.  e P an daM an ia cs o verw helm ed th e tw o g u ard s sta tio ne d th ere fo r
cr ow d co ntr o l an d cra mmed in to th e vie w ing ro om s, se v ere ly vio la ting th e
offi cia l ca pacity a n d p ili n g u p th ir ty d eep a g ains t th e g la ss.  en th ey be gan
ch an tin g f or L i P in g a gain .
Pete  wack er k n ew h e co uld n’t le t th is g o o n all d ay : Aft e r a fe w h ou rs
w it h ou t a p an da, th e cr ow d w ou ld g et a ng ry , and a n ang ry cr ow d w as a m ob.
So h e r elu cta ntly w en t o ut to th e e xh ibi t t o f ace the P and aM an ia cs .
I w as s till a t th e crim e s ce ne, bu t I w atch ed th e w hole th ing w it h S u m mer
o n h er p h on e.  e lo ca l n ew s sta tio ns a ll h ad ca mera s in posit io n and w ere
li v e-s tr e a m in g th e e ven t.
I n sid e th e tr u ck , Hoen ek ker w as du sting fo r �ng erp rint s. I w as w it h
S u m mer b eca use , fr a n kly , w atch ing s o m eo ne d u st fo r � ng erp rint s w as bo ring .

No o n e q u it e k n ew w hat t o m ak e o f t h e r a n so m no te y et. J.J . M cC ra ck en had
g o n e o ff to his o ffi ce to dis cu ss it w it h h is l aw yers.
P ete co uld n’t e v en g et in sid e P and a P ala ce . In ste a d , he h ad to sp ea k to th e
hun dre d s o f p eo p le cr ow ded o u ts id e, still w ait ing to ent er th e ex h ibi t. H e
sta re d t h em a ll d ow n— an d li e d t o t h eir fa ce s. It w ou ld h av e b een horribl e P R
to r e v ea l t h at t h e p an da h ad b een s to le n—a nd J .J . pro ba bly w ou ld h av e k ille d
h im . So in ste a d , he to ld th em w hat w ou ld h av e b een th e tr u th , had L i P in g
actu ally a rriv ed a s p la n ned . “H ello , pand a fa ns !” h e sa id ch eerfu lly , doing a n
in cr ed ib le jo b o f a ctin g a s t h ou gh n oth ing h ad g o ne w ro ng . “W e a t F unJ ung le
a re th rille d to se e so m an y o f y o u h ere to d ay to w elco me L i P ing . H ow ev er,
f e d era l la w m an date s th at, fo r h er s a fe ty — as w ell a s th e s a fe ty o f a ll th e o th er
b elo ved a n im als h ere — Li P in g m ust re m ain un der q u ara n tine a t o u r m ed ica l
fa cil it y f or th e n ext th ir ty d ay s.”
 is w as m et w it h a ch oru s of bo os, and th en Pete w as pelt e d w it h
e v ery th in g f ro m balle d -u p n ap kin s t o s tu ff ed p and a t oys.
“ It’s fo r th e h ea lt h o f th e p an da!” P ete a d ded , so m ew hat d esp era te ly . “Y o u
d on’t w an t L i P in g to get s ick , d o y o u ?”
 is w as fo llo w ed b y a lo t o f d is g ru nt le d m utt e ring a s m ost o f th e cr ow d
re a li z e d P ete h ad a p oin t. “W hy’d y o u e v en anno unce t h at t h e p an da w as h ere
if y ou w ere n ’t g oin g to put h er o n d is p la y t od ay ?” s om eo ne shou te d .
“W e d id n’t a n nou n ce t h e p an da w ou ld b e h ere !” P ete p ro te ste d ind ig na ntly ,
e v en th ou gh it w as p artly h is fa u lt th at w ord h ad le a k ed o u t. “Y o u all ju st
s h ow ed u p! H ow ev er, to sh ow o u r a p pre ci atio n fo r a ll o f y o u , ev ery o ne h ere
to d ay is entit le d to a fre e l arg e s oft d rink an d a co mmem ora tiv e L i P in g cu p.”
T o m y su rp ris e , th is a p pea re d to q u ell m ost o f th e cr ow d.  ey w ere still
u pse t, b ut m ost o f th em quick ly m ad e a b eeli ne for t he cl ose st s od a s ta nd s.
“  at a ctu ally w ork ed ?” I a sk ed S u m mer. “W hat’s a la rg e so d a co st y o u r
fa th er? F iv e ce nts ?”
“ If th at,” S u m mer sa id . “In cl uding th e cu p. But h e ch arg es $7.99 fo r it
n orm ally , so e v ery o n e p ro b ab ly t h ink s th ey ju st g o t a g re a t d ea l. D ad dy a lw ay s
sa y s th e q u ick est w ay to w in o ver y o u r e ne mie s is to m ak e th em th ink th ey
su ck ere d y ou o ut o f s om eth in g.”
I w as su dden ly a w are o f a co mmotio n aro u nd th e co rne r o f th e bu ild ing .
One o f H oen ek ker’s g u ard s w as te lli ng so m eo ne th ey co uld n’t ap pro ach th e

lo ad in g d ock . “It’s fo r t h e s a fe ty o f t h e p and a,” h e ins is te d . “L i P ing h as h ad a
v ery l on g trip and s he n eed s h er p riv acy .”
“ I’m n ot tr y in g to ap pro ach th e lo ad in g d ock ,” th e o th er p erso n sa id . “I
n eed to talk to Ted dy F it z ro y.”
I r eco gn iz e d th e v oice . O li via Putne y.
“ H ey, O li via !” I ca lle d . “H old o n !” I ju m ped o ff th e lo ad ing d ock a nd r a n
aro u n d th e co rn er. S um mer ca me w it h m e.
 ere was a wid e alle y betw een th e vete rina ry hosp it a l and th e
ad m in is tr a tio n bu ild in g, th e se v en- sto ry to w er w here all of FunJ ung le ’s
a d m in is tr a to rs an d la w yers— an d J.J . McC ra ck en—h ad th eir offi ce s. I
re co gn iz e d th e g u ard w it h O li via . H is na me w as K ev in W ilk s, he w as y o u ng ,
an d h e w asn ’t exa ctl y th e sh arp est m em be r o f th e fo rce . In fa ct , th ere w ere
p ro b ab ly se v era l a n im als a t th e p ark th at w ere sm arte r th an K ev in. He sto od
d ir e ctl y in O li via ’s p ath , le g s a n d a rm s sp la y ed , to k eep h er fr o m g etting p ast
h im .
If I h ad n’t h ea rd O li via � rst, I m ig h t no t h av e r e co gni ze d h er. I s a w O li v ia
in h er sw im su it so o ft e n , sh e lo oked str a n ge in re g u la r cl oth es. I’d a ls o ne ver
se en h er w it h d ry h air . It w as li g h te r th an I’d re a li z e d , an d it w as fr iz ze d o u t
fr o m th e h um id it y . Sh e w as ca rr y ing a p la stic gif t b ag fr o m th e F unJ ung le
E m poriu m .
“W hat’s g oin g o n?” S um mer a sk ed .
K evin seem ed s ta rstr u ck by S um mer. “ Er . . . A h . . .  is w om an cl aim s s he
kn ow s T ed dy.”
“ S h e k now s b oth o f u s,” S um mer t o ld h im .
“O h,” K evin sa id , lo okin g e m barr a sse d . “S o rr y . B ut C hie f H oene kker to ld
m e to keep a ll u nau th oriz e d p erso n ne l a w ay f ro m the l oad ing dock .”
“ I w asn ’t tr y in g to ca use a n y tr o u ble ,” O li v ia sa id , th en lo oked to m e. “I
n eed ed to ta lk to y o u ab ou t th e d olp h ins an d I h ea rd y o u w ere o ver h ere .
H ow ’s L i P in g, a nyw ay ?”
S h e t r ie d t o m ak e t h is la st q u estio n so u nd ca su al, li k e it h ad o nl y o ccu rre d
to h er a t t h at m om en t, bu t s h e d id n’t q u it e p u ll it o ff . W hich m ad e m e s u sp ect
th at O li v ia w as u sin g t h e d olp h in s a s a n ex cu se t o � nd o u t w hat w as g o ing o n
w it h L i P in g. A ft e r a ll, if sh e h ad re a lly n eed ed to ta lk to m e, sh e co uld h av e
ca lle d m e.

I als o n otice d th at O li via w asn ’t th e onl y cu rio u s F unJ ung le em plo yee
a ro u n d. D esp it e H oen ek ker’s a tte m pts t o k eep t he p and a’s d is a p pea ra nce und er
w ra p s, it ap pea re d peo p le w ere be ginni ng to su sp ect th at so m eth ing w as
w ro n g. B y n ow , it m ust h av e b een cl ea r t o a ll t he e m plo yees a t t he h osp it a l t hat
n eit h er L i P in g n or D oc w as a nyw here t o be seen.
B eh in d O li via , at th e fa r co rn er o f th e ad m ini str a tio n bu ild ing , a sm all
cr ow d o f e m plo yees m ille d a b ou t, tr y ing t o a ct ca su al, bu t o b vio u sly int rig u ed
b y w hat w as g o in g o n . It w as a n o d d a sso rtm ent o f p eo p le : a f e w k eep ers, so m e
mem bers o f th e ja n it o ria l sta ff , tw o la w yers (th ey w ere th e o nl y p eo p le at
F un Ju n gle w ho w ore su it s b esid es P ete ), an d th re e a ct ors d re sse d a s m asco ts .
O r, at le a st, partia lly d re sse d a s m asco ts ; th e o ne s w ho p la y ed E le a n or E le p h ant
an d Z eld a Z eb ra h ad p op ped th eir h ea d s o ff . M ea n w hile , th e a ct or d re sse d a s
L i P in g re m ain ed fu lly su it e d u p, pro ba bly to a v o id d am ag ing th e br and -ne w
costu m e.  ey w ere a ll p ay in g cl ose a tt e nt io n to u s, as t h ou gh h op ing f o r ne ws
ab ou t th e r ea l p an da.
I w asn ’t g o in g to b e th e o n e to sp ill th e be an s a bo ut w hat h ad h ap pene d,
th ou gh . A g la n ce fr o m S u m mer ind ica te d sh e w asn ’t g o ing to e it h er. Ins te a d ,
both o f u s p la y ed d um b.
“L i P in g’s � ne,” w e b oth s aid a t o nce .
“R ea lly ?” O li via ask ed . “  en w hy’s t here s o m uch secu rit y a ro u nd ?”
“  ey ’r e ju st h ere to k eep ev ery o ne a w ay fr o m th e p and a,” S u m mer sa id
q u ick ly . “ Pan das a re n ’t l ik e d olp h in s.  ey g et s ick rea lly e asily a ro u nd peo p le .”
O li via se em ed u n su re w heth er o r no t to be li e v e th at. B ut be fo re sh e co uld
p ose a ny m ore q uestio n s, I ask ed h er, “ W hat’d y ou ne ed t o t alk t o m e a bo ut? ”
O li via se em ed to re a li z e sh e co uld n’t p re ss th e p and a is su e a n y m ore . “W e
go t y o u r b ath in g s u it b ack .” S h e d u g m y w et s u it o u t o f t h e p la stic ba g. “S o rr y ,
b u t it ’s a lit tle ch ew ed u p. I t to ok m e a w hile t o g et S ni ck ers t o g iv e i t u p.”
“ A li t tle ch ew ed u p” w as a n u n dersta te m ent .  an ks to S ni ck ers, m y su it
n ow h ad m ore h ole s th an a g olf co urse . “  an ks,” I said .
“ at w as y o u r b ig e m erg en cy ?” S u m mer a sk ed s k ep tica lly . “Y o u co uld h av e
ju st te xte d T ed dy a bou t th at.”
“  ere ’s a ls o t h is .” O li via p u lle d a s e co nd w et ba th ing s u it o u t o f t h e p la stic
b ag .  is o n e w as b lu e. Sh e d an gle d it f r o m a � ng er, as t h ou gh s h e r e a lly d id n’t
w an t to touch it. “ Is it y ou rs, T ed dy?”

I s hook m y h ea d . “ Nop e.”
O li via gav e m e a susp icio us s ta re . “ Yo u ba re ly e ven l ooked a t i t.”
“ I o n ly h av e o n e o th er b ath in g s u it ,” I t o ld h er. “A nd it ’s g re en. ” I t o ok t h e
blu e su it o ff h er � n ger a n d exa mine d it . It w as a so u veni r fr o m F unJ ung le :
b oard s h orts w it h a p ie ce o f o n e le g p u rp ose fu lly m is sing , cu t s o t h at it lo oked
a s if it h ad b een b it te n o ff b y a sh ark . O n th e re a r end , writ te n in le tte rs
d esig n ed to lo ok li k e d rip pin g bl ood , it sa id , “I su rv iv ed S h ark E nco unt er a t
F un Ju n gle !”
I ’d se en sim ila r su it s o n sa le a t th e S h ark E nco unt er g if t sh op , w hich h ad
a lw ay s s e e m ed to b e v ery p oor ta ste . A ft e r a ll, Sh ark E nco unt er w as s u ppose d
to b e te a ch in g to u ris ts th at sh ark s a ctu ally w ere n ’t v ery d ang ero u s, w hile th is
b ath in g su it re in fo rce d th e ste re o ty p e th at th ey w ere . Plu s, I had bare ly
s u rviv ed Sh ark E nco un te r o n ce , when th e u n derw ate r vie w ing tu nne l h ad
co lla p se d , s o th e id ea o f a shark a tt a ck did n’t s eem very f unny to m e.
“ Y u ck ,” S u m mer sa id u n der h er b re a th . “W ho w ou ld w ea r so m eth ing li k e
th at? ”
“ H ey !” K evin excl aim ed . “ I h av e th at e xact sam e ba th ing suit !”
“ W hy?” S um mer a sk ed , n ot b oth ering to h id e h er d is g u st.
“ It’s pre tty sick ,” K evin sa id pro u dly , fa ili ng to re a li z e Su m mer w asn ’t
i m pre sse d . “A nd a s a F un Ju n gle e m plo yee, I g et a te n perce nt d is co unt o n all
m erch an dis e !”
I h eld th e b ath in g su it u p a g ain st m y o w n w ais t to ch eck th e siz e . It w as
w ay to o b ig fo r m e. “I th in k th is is an ad u lt ’s b ath ing su it , no t a k id ’s ,” I
p oin te d o ut.
S u m mer, w ho k n ew a lo t m ore a b ou t cl oth es t h an I d id , sim ply ch eck ed t h e
ta g o n th e in sid e o f th e e la stic wais tba nd. “M en ’s m ed iu m ,” sh e re a d . “W hat
siz e p an ts d o y ou w ea r, T ed dy?”
“ U h . . . I don’t k now ,” I said .
Su m mer lo oked a t m e li k e I ’d s a id I d id n’t k no w m y o w n hair co lo r. “H ow
co uld y ou n ot k now y ou r p an t s iz e ?”
I s hru gged . “ My m om buys a ll m y cl oth es f or m e.”
S u m mer ro lle d h er ey es an d re tu rne d h er att e nt io n to O li v ia . “T ed dy’s
o b vio usly to o sm all to w ea r th ese . If y o u’d ju st ch eck ed th e ta g , yo u w ou ld n’t
h av e h ad to co me a ll th e w ay o ver h ere .”

“I d id n’t t h in k o f it ,” O li via s a id . “ O ne o f t h e o th er t r a ine rs fo u nd t h em in
t h e d olp h in t a n k, an d w e d id n’t k no w w ho e ls e ’s t h ey co uld b e.” S h e lo oked t o
m e. “Y o u’r e th e o n ly o n e w ho S ni ck ers h as p an ts e d and th e o nl y k id w ho’s
n orm ally h ere a ft e r p ark h ou rs, s o . . . ”
“Y o u ju m ped to a co ncl usio n ?” S um mer � ni sh ed .
“Y es,” O li via adm it te d . “ So rr y , T ed dy.”
“ It’s o kay,” I to ld h er. “ W here in the t an k w as t his ?”
“ D ow n a t th e b otto m ,” O li via re p li e d . “O n th e fa r sid e fr o m th e be ach .
 ere ’s so m e p ip es th ere to re ci rcu la te th e w ate r, and th e b ath ing su it w as
ja m med u nder o ne. S om etim es th e d olp h ins lik e t o h id e t hing s t here .”
“  e d olp h in s h id e t h in gs?” K evin a sk ed , su rp ris e d . “H ow ?  ey d on’t e v en
h av e h an ds!”
“  ey u se th eir m ou th s,” O li via s a id s lo w ly , as th ou gh s h e w as ta lk ing to a
ch ild . “A nd y es, so m etim es if t h ey � nd s o m eth ing u n usu al, th ey ’l l t r y t o h id e it
w here w e m ig h t n ot n otice it. ”
“D oes th at h ap pen a lot? ” S um mer a sk ed .
“W ell, w e t r y t o co ntr o l w hat g o es int o t h e t a n k,” O li v ia r e p li e d . “A lt h ou gh
w e d o g iv e t h em lo ts o f t o ys t o p la y w it h to k eep t h em s tim ula te d . P la stic ring s
an d b alls a n d su ch . A nd so m etim es w e’l l p u t fo od ins id e so m eth ing to se e if
t h ey ca n � gu re o u t h ow to g et it o u t. Lik e a p la stic box w it h a la tch . O r w e’l l
f r e e ze it in ice.”
“  e s am e th in g M om does w it h t he p rim ate s,” I p oint ed o ut.
“ Y es,” O li via sa id . “B oth sp ec ie s are very sm art and need lo ts of
stim ula tio n .”
“ W ow ,” K evin gasp ed . “ I d id n’t k now there w ere � sh a s s m art a s m onk ey s.”
O li via g la re d a t h im . “D olp h in s a re n ’t � sh .  ey ’r e m am mals . A nd th ey ’r e
sm arte r th an mon key s. Or ev en so m e ap es. ey hav e comple x
co mmun ica tio n , use t o ols , an d w ork a s t e a m s. For a ll w e k no w, th ey ’r e s m arte r
th an w e a re .”
K evin la u gh ed d is d ain fu lly . “Y ea h , rig h t. If t h ey ’r e s o s m art, th en why d on’t
t h ey in ven t th in gs l ik e a ir p la n es a nd tele v is io n? ”
“ ey a ls o d on’t k ill e a ch o th er,” O li v ia p oint ed o u t. “S o t h ey ’v e g o t t h at o n
u s.”

“I’m ju st sa y in g, w e p u t th em in sh ow s,” K evin p re sse d . “If th ey w ere th e
sm art o nes, w e’d b e b ala n cin g b alls o n o ur no se s f or th em , rig ht? ”
“ C an y o u p in poin t a � sh tw o h und re d y ard s a w ay in th e d ark ne ss u sing
o n ly s ou n d w av es?” O li via ask ed .
“U h . . . n o,” K evin said .
“W ell, a d olp h in ca n,” O li via re p li e d cu rtly . “W e ea ch h av e o u r ta le nt s.”
K evin sta rte d to p ro te st, bu t O li v ia h eld u p a h an d to sile nce h im . “I’m no t
go in g t o d is cu ss in te lli g en ce w it h s o m eo ne w ho ca n’t e v en re m em be r t o z ip h is
� y,” s he s aid .
K evin g la n ce d d ow n a n d re a li z e d th at h is � y w as, in fa ct , unz ip ped . Plu s,
h is sh ir t w as p okin g o u t th ro u gh it . H e tu rne d br ig h t re d a n d q u ick ly sp u n
aro u n d to �x th in gs. “ Oop s!”
W hile h e w as d is tr a cte d, w e a ll sli p ped a w ay fr o m h im so w e co uld � ni sh
o u r co nversa tio n in p ea ce . W e h ea d ed a w ay f r o m t h e lo ad ing d ock , to w ard t h e
fr o n t o f th e h osp it a l.
“ W hat w ere w e ta lk in g a bou t b efo re t hat d oofu s i nt err u pte d ?” O li v ia a sk ed .
“ e d olp h in s � ndin g th in gs in th e t an k,” S um mer t old h er.
“ R ig h t,” O li via a g re ed . “W e g iv e th em th ing s to s tim ula te th em a nd tr y to
k eep o th er s tu ff o u t, bu t e v ery o n ce in a w hile , so m eth ing g ets in. So m e id io t
to u ris t t h ro w s in a t o y f r o m t h e g if t s h op o r d ro p s a s o d a b ottle o ver t h e r a il—
o r m ay b e a b ir d fe a th er o r a p la stic ba g bl ow s in. Well, if a d olp h in gets a h old
o f s om eth in g l ik e th at a nd w an ts t o k eep it, t hey ’l l h id e i t s om ep la ce .”
“ H ow g o o d is th is h id in g p la ce ?” I ask ed . “C ou ld th e b ath ing su it h av e
b een in th e ta nk f or a few d ay s?”
O li via s to p ped w alk in g t o t h in k a bo ut t h is . “U h .  . . m ay be . W e d o o u r be st
to ch eck th e ta n k e v ery n ig h t to m ak e su re th e d olp h ins h av en ’t g o tte n ah old
o f s o m eth in g d an gero u s. W e d on’t w an t t h em ch oking o n garba ge o r a ny th ing .
But th ey ’r e cl ev er.  is su it w as w ed ged u n der th e p ip e so it w as alm ost
im possib le to se e. So I su ppose it co uld h av e b een in th e ta n k m ore th an a
day.”
“  en w hoev er it b elo n gs to co uld h av e b een in th e ta n k w ell b efo re la st
n ig h t,” S um mer s aid .
“W ell, not m uch m ore b efo re la st ni gh t,” O li v ia co unt ere d . “O nly a fe w
d ay s, m ax. I’m s u re t h is s u it h asn ’t be en dow n t h ere lo ng er t h an t h at. So m eo ne

wou ld h av e n otice d it. ”
We w ere n ow q u it e cl ose to th e g ro u p o f F unJ ung le e m plo yees w ho’d be en
m illi n g aro u n d. I re a li z e d th ey w ere all ea v esd ro p ping o n ou r co nv ersa tio n.
 ey w ere t r y in g t o a ct in co nsp icu ou s, bu t t h at w as h ard t o d o w hen th re e o f
th em w ere d re sse d lik e a n e le p h ant , a zebr a, a nd a g ia n t p and a.
I w as a b ou t to su ggest w e � n d a m ore p riv ate p la ce to ta lk w hen Oli v ia
a sk ed m e, “T ed dy, did y o u e v er a sk H oene kker t o ch eck t h e ca mera f e ed s f r o m
th e d olp h in e xh ib it ? ”
“ E r  .  . . no,” I ad m it te d . Giv en all th e ex ci te m ent w it h Li Ping ’s
d is a p pea ra n ce , I’d fo rg o tte n . And n ow H oene kker w as ce rta inl y to o bu sy to
ch eck t h e f e ed s, alt h ou gh I co uld n’t t e ll O li v ia w hy . So I h ad t o b en d t h e t r u th .
“I d id n’t g et a ch an ce . He’s b een re a lly sw am ped th is m orni ng , w it h a ll th e
cr ow ds a nd e very th in g.”
O li via se em ed to su sp ect th at I w asn ’t g iv ing h er th e fu ll sto ry , bu t be fo re
s h e co uld p re ss th e p oin t, Su m mer w rink le d h er no se a n d s a id , “ at ba th ing
s u it s m ells f un ny.”
I h eld it u p to exa min e it a gain . “ I d on’t s m ell a nyth ing .”
“ W ell, yo u r n ose p ro b ab ly is n ’t as go od as m ine . Tru st m e, so m eth ing ’s
f u n ky a b ou t it .” S u m mer to ok th e su it fr o m m e a n d sn iff ed it cl ose r.  en,
se em in g to sen se s om eth in g, s he s hif t e d it a ro u nd to s niff d iff ere nt parts o f i t.
I s ta rte d lau gh in g.
“W hat’s s o f un ny?” S um mer d em and ed .
“Y o u look l ik e a b lo od h ou n d,” I said .
Su m mer s tu ck h er to n gu e o u t a t m e, th en went r ig h t b ack to s m elli ng th e
su it . Sh e to ok a n oth er fe w sn iff s, th en gav e a tr iu m ph ant sh ou t. “A ha!” S h e
in verte d o n e o f th e p ock ets a n d a ch unk o f so m eth ing g ra y is h a nd � ak y fe ll
o u t o nto th e g ro u n d a t o ur f eet.
“ Is th at tu na � sh ?” I a sk ed .
“D e� n it e ly ,” S um mer r ep li e d . “ It t ota lly s m ells l ik e t una .”
 e F un Ju n gle e m plo yees n ea rb y w ere no long er e ven t ry ing to p re te nd that
th ey w ere n ’t e a v esd ro p pin g o n u s.  ey a ll cr an ed fo rw ard , w ond ering w hat
w as g oin g o n.
“W hy w ou ld s o m eb od y p u t t u n a � sh i n th e p ock ets o f t h eir b ath ing s u it ? ” I
a sk ed .

“F or a s n ack w hile s w im min g?” s u ggeste d t h e w om an h alf - d re sse d a s Z eld a
Z eb ra .
B efo re a n yo n e co uld su ggest a b ette r a ns wer, a h eli co pte r ro are d o verh ea d ,
ca tch in g us all by su rp ris e . J.J . M cC ra ck en had m ad e su re air sp ace over
F un Ju n gle w as se v ere ly re str icte d; bo th th e g u ests a nd th e a n im als co uld � nd
th e so u n d o f a ir c ra ft ir rit a tin g. In a d dit io n, th is h eli co pte r ca me in ex tr e m ely
lo w , cl ose e n ou gh to th e g ro u n d th at I co uld h av e h it it w it h a ro ck . It th en
b an ked sh arp ly a n d sta rte d lo w ering be hind th e a n im al h osp it a l.  ere w as a
h eli p ad back th ere , in ca se a se v ere em erg ency re q u ir e d a h um an—o r an
a n im al— to b e a ir li f t e d o ut, b ut a s f ar a s I k new , i t h ad n ev er be en u se d .
Su m mer in sta n tly d arte d th at w ay, ea g er to se e w hat w as go ing on. I
dro p ped in b eh in d h er. So d id O li v ia . W e ra ce d ba ck to th e a re a be hind th e
hosp it a l.
K evin h ad ab an don ed h is p ost to w atch th e h eli co pte r as w ell. H e w as
sta n din g w it h H oen ek ker, M arg e, and m y p are nt s, a sa fe d is ta n ce fr o m th e
heli p ad , where th ey w ou ld n’t be hit by debr is kick ed up by th e ro to rs.
H oen ek ker ap pea re d m ore an noyed th an I’d ev er se en him —a nd th at w as
re a lly s ay in g s om eth in g. H e w as a nno yed a lot.
S u m mer h ad to shou t to be h ea rd o ver t he i nco ming co pte r. “ W ho’s t hat? ”
“  e F B I !” K evin shou te d b ack .
“ e F B I ?” I rep ea te d , in cred u lo u s. “ W hy?”
K evin s ta rte d to a n sw er m e, bu t H oene kker g av e h im a lo ok th at s a id h e’d
b e b ette r o ff k eep in g h is m ou th s hut.
I t w as a lm ost im possib le to ta lk o ver th e h eli co pte r a ny how .  e no is e w as
ea rsp li t tin g a s it to u ch ed d ow n. Befo re th e ro to rs h ad sto p ped sp inni ng, th e
ch op per’s p asse n ger d oor o p en ed an d a ta ll w om an in a su it and su ng la sse s
h op ped o u t.  re e o th er p eo p le g o t o u t be hind h er, bu t I ba re ly no tice d t h em
b eca use th e ta ll w om an w as so str ik ing . Sh e h ad re d h air so b rig h t, it a lm ost
lo oked li k e h er h ea d w as o n � re , and t h ou gh h er e y es w ere h id den be hind d ark
su n gla sse s, sh e w as extr em ely b ea u tif u l—a lt h ou gh th ere w as als o so m eth ing
s tr a n gely f am ili a r a bou t h er to o.
“O h n o,” M arg e g ro an ed .
 e re d -h air e d w om an str o d e d ir e ct ly u p to H oene kker an d � ash ed h er
o ffi cia l bad ge. “A gen t M olly O ’M alle y, F B I . I’m here to ta k e over th e

in vestig atio n in to th e d is a p pea ra n ce of L i P ing .”
“ A gen t O ’M alle y ?” S u m mer e ch oed n ex t t o m e, as s u rp ris e d b y t h e na me a s
I w as. B oth o f u s tu rn ed to see M arg e s hrink ing aw ay i n e mba rr a ss m ent .
Agen t O ’M alle y n otice d h er as w ell. Sh e lo oked to M arg e an d � ash ed a
co cky s m ile .
“ H ey, l it tle s is te r,” s he s aid .

TH E F E D S
W hile t h e r e st o f u s r e ele d fr o m th e s u rp ris e th at M arg e h ad a s is te r—
a n d o n e w ho w as a n F B I a g en t, n o le ss— th e t h re e o th er pe op le w ho’d b een on
th e h eli c o p te r g ath ere d b eh in d M olly O ’M alle y.  ere w ere tw o m en and a
w om an , an d t h ey a ll a p pea re d t o be FB I a g en ts a s w ell.  ey a ll d re sse d e x act ly
t h e sa m e, in d ark su it s an d su n gla sse s.  ey h ung ba ck fr o m u s, th ou gh ,
allo w in g M olly to run th e s how .
I w as lo okin g b ack a n d fo rth b etw een M arg e a nd M olly . I h ad n ev er se en
tw o sis te rs w ho lo oked so d iff ere nt . M olly w as ta ll a n d sk inny , w hile M arg e
w as sq u at a n d ro u n d. M olly w as im pecca bly d re sse d , w hile M arg e lo oked a s
th ou gh s h e h ad s le p t in h er cl oth es, th en ro lle d a ro u nd in th e g arba ge f o r g o od
m ea su re ; th ere w ere a d oze n fo od sta in s o n h er u n if o rm , ra n gin g fr o m ch ili t o
C hee z W hiz . M olly sto od u prig h t and ra d ia te d int elli g ence and co n� dence .
Marg e s lo u ch ed — an d th e o nly th ing she r ad ia te d w as b od y o dor.
E very o n e e ls e fr o m F un Ju n gle w as lo oking fr o m o ne O ’M alle y t o t h e o th er
a s w ell— ex ce pt C hie f H oen ek ker. H e k ep t h is g aze r iv ete d o n M olly , his e y es
n arro w ed in a n ger. “W e ca n h an dle t h is inv estig atio n on ou r o w n,” h e t o ld h er.
“ W e d on’t n eed th e F B I .”
“  is is n ’t a n eg o tia tio n ,” M olly inf orm ed h im . “It’s a d one d ea l.  at
p an da is n ’t th e p ro p erty o f F unJ ung le . It’s th e p ro p erty o f th e co unt ry o f
C hin a, w hich m ak es it s th eft a n int erna tio na l inci dent .  e n atio n’s be st la w
en fo rce men t a gen cy need s to be o n t his ca se , no t a g ro u p o f s ecu rit y g uard s.”
“ W e a re a fully o pera tio n al p oli ce force ,” H oene kker g ro w le d .

“J.J . M cC ra ck en d oesn ’t se em to th ink so ,” M olly sa id w it h a sm ir k . “H e’s
t h e o ne w ho tip ped u s o ff.”
H oen ek ker’s e yes w id en ed in surp ris e .
“ F urth erm ore , th is ca se d oesn ’t ev en fa ll w it h in yo u r ju ris d ict io n, ” M olly
w en t on . “It d id n’t occu r at F unJ ung le . It h ap pene d so m ew here en ro u te
b etw een S an D ie g o a n d h ere , w hich m ea n s t h e p an da cr osse d s ta te li ne s, w hich
m ak es th is a fe d era l crim e. W hich , once a g ain, man date s th e p re se nce o f th e
F B I to investig ate .”
H oen ek ker d id n’t r e sp on d. H e s till a p pea re d s tu nne d t h at J .J . had ca lle d in
t h e F B I .
M olly g av e h im a sm ug sm ile , kn ow ing sh e’d w on th is ro u nd . “S o th en, if
y o u w ill h an d o ver a n y e vid en ce y o u h av e u nco vere d so fa r a n d d is cl ose a ny
d is co verie s yo u h av e m ad e to m y ag ent s, I’d li k e to get sta rte d w it h th is
in vestig atio n r ig h t a w ay.” W it h t h at, sh e br ush ed p ast H oene kker, hea d ing fo r
th e p an da tr uck .
Hoen ek ker sh oo k o ff h is stu por a nd ra ce d a ft e r h er. “N ow , hold o n. My
te a m h as a rig h t to b e a p art o f th is .  e th eft o f th at p an da w as a cr im e
co mmit te d a g ain st F un Ju n gle , fo r w hich w e a re th e o ffi cial la w -e nf orce ment
a rm .”
“  en p erh ap s y o u s h ou ld h av e w ork ed h ard er to p re v ent th e cr im e in th e
� rst p la ce ,” M olly to ld h im . Sh e h op ped o nt o th e lo ad ing d ock and str o d e
pu rp ose fu lly to ward th e tr uck .
Hoen ek ker lo oked r e a d y to e xp lo d e. B ut b efo re h e co uld s a y a ny th ing , J.J .
M cC ra ck en ra ce d aro u n d th e co rne r an d int erv ene d, desp era te to k eep th e
pea ce .
“W hoa th ere , C hie f. Let’s n ot sa y any th ing w e’r e g o nna re g re t.” J.J . was
sli g h tly o u t o f b re a th , as t h ou gh h e’d r u n t h e w hole w ay f r o m h is o ffi ce . Sev era l
la w yers t r a ile d b eh in d h im , li k e t h ey ’d b een ca ugh t in his w ak e a nd s u ck ed o u t
of th e a dm in is tr a tio n b uild in g w it h h im .
“S h e’s t h e o n e w it h t h e a ttit u de p ro bl em , no t m e,” H oen ek ker m utte re d t o
J .J . “ Cock y f ed s. W hy o n e arth d id y ou ca ll t hem ?”
“ B eca use th e C hin ese in sis te d o n it .” B efo re H oene kker co uld p ro te st, J.J .
held u p a h an d, sile n cin g h im . “I k n ow , it s tink s. B ut I co uld n’t k eep L i P ing ’s
d is a p pea ra n ce a se cr et fr o m C hina . I’v e go t b illi o ns of d olla rs in bu sine ss

in te re sts o ver th ere , an d I ca n’t a ff ord n ot to b e a str a ig h t sh oote r w it h th em .
So if th ey w an t th e fe d s in vo lv ed , th e fe d s a re inv olv ed . Fra n kly , I p ro ba bly
wou ld ’v e h ad to brin g th em in soone r o r l ate r a nyh ow .”
H oen ek ker’s fr o w n g re w e v en d ee p er, bu t h e d id n’t sa y a ny th ing . H e a nd
J.J . fo llo w ed M olly O ’M alle y u p o nt o th e lo ad ing d ock , and th e re st o f u s
dro p ped in beh in d th em .
M olly w as n ow e xa min in g th e p an da d eli v ery tr u ck fr o m th e o u ts id e. Sh e
se em ed am use d by H oen ek ker’s cr im ina l inv estig atio n kit , which w as still
s it tin g o n th e d ock . “ at’s cu te ,” sh e sa id m ock ing ly , th en ask ed , “S o w hat
h av e y ou f ou n d h ere ?”
H oen ek ker d id n’t a n sw er rig h t a w ay, still a n no yed b y h ow e v ery th ing w as
p la y in g o ut.
M olly g ro an ed t h ea tr ica lly . “P le a se t e ll m e y o u’r e n ot g o ing t o g et t e rrit o ria l
o ver t h is . If I h av e t o , I ca n g et t h e U S a m bassa d or t o C hin a o n t h e p h one , bu t
I r ea lly th in k s he h as b ette r th in gs t o d o w it h h er t im e.”
H oen ek ker sig h ed h ea vil y, re a li z ing h e w as b ea t, an d co ugh ed u p w hat h e
kn ew . “It ap pea rs th e tr u ck w as atta ck ed w hile en ro u te to FunJ ung le
s o m etim e la st n ig h t.  e a tta ck ers bl ew t h e lo ck o ff t h e r e a r d oor w it h w hat w e
beli e v e w as C -4 p u tty e xp lo siv e, th en ent ere d th e tr u ck , cu t th e c h ains o n th e
pan da’s c a g e w it h b olt cu tte rs, and fo rci bl y r e m oved b oth th e p an da a nd D oc
D ea k in , th e v ete rin aria n .”
“ A ll w hile th e tr uck w as m ovin g?” M olly a sk ed , s ou nd ing incr ed u lo u s.
“  at a p pea rs t o b e t h e ca se ,” H oene kker r e p li e d . “I h ad s o m eo ne s ta tio ne d
in th e ca b o f th e tr uck th ro u gh ou t t he t rip — ”
“ at’d b e y o u , M arg e?” M olly in te rr u pte d , lo oking a t h er s is te r a nd r a is ing
a n e yeb ro w .
“E r .  . . yes,” M arg e s a id . N orm all y , sh e w as f u ll o f bl uff a n d br av ad o, bu t it
h ad a ll v an is h ed in fro n t o f h er s is te r.
“ L ooks l ik e s om eo n e r em oved M arg e’s s pine ,” S um mer w his p ere d t o m e.
“A cco rd in g to O ffice r O ’M alle y,” H oene kker w ent on, “ th e t ru ck m ad e a p it
s to p a t m id n ig h t n ea r L as C ru ce s, N ew M ex ico . A t t h at t im e, D oc D ea k in and
L i P in g w ere still in sid e th e tr a ile r, ali v e a n d w ell. Every o ne to ok a ba th ro om
b re a k , an d a ft e rw ard , D oc was lo ck ed ba ck in wit h th e p and a.  e tr u ck d id

not s to p a g ain u n til it a rriv ed h ere s h ortly b efo re o h -9 00 th is m orni ng , w hen
th e d is a p pea ra n ce of b oth D oc a nd L i P ing was d is co vere d .”
M olly O ’M alle y m ad e a fa ce li k e sh e’d su ck ed o n a le m on, as if sh e d id n’t
l i k e a n y o f w hat sh e w as h ea rin g. “A nd w hat e v id ence h av e y o u d is co vere d in
t h e tr uck ?”
“ T ra ce a m ou n ts o f e xp lo siv e,” H oene kker re p orte d . “N o � ng erp rint s a s o f
yet.”
“ F ib ers?” M olly a sk ed .
“Q uit e a lo t,” H oen ek ker r e p li e d . “B ut t h ere ’s a g o od ch an ce m ost o f t h em
a re p an da f ur. W e h av en ’t h ad a ch an ce to a naly ze t hem yet.”
“ W e’l l h an dle t h at,” M olly t o ld h im . “A nd I u nd ersta n d t h ere w as a r a ns om
n ote ?”
“ I h av e m y o wn p eo p le d oin g a naly sis o n t hat . . . , ” H oene kker be gan.
“ N ot a n ym ore ,” M olly s a id b ru sq u ely . “W e’l l h an dle t h at a s w ell. A ny id ea s
w ho it m ig h t b e f ro m ?”
“ N on e y et,” H oen ek ker r ep li e d .
“R ea lly ?” M olly ta u n te d . “Y o u d on’t h av e o n e id ea ? F or exa mple , ex o tic
a n im al tr a ffi ck ers, so m eo n e w it h a g ru dge a g ains t th e C hine se g o vernm ent , a
ra d ica l a nim al rig hts g ro u p lik e th e N atu re F re ed om Force  . . . ”
Hoen ek ker la u gh ed d is m is siv ely a t t h is . “ e N FF is a r in ky-d in k g ro u p o f
ra d ica ls .  ey h an d ou t an ti- z o o p am ph le ts at ou r fr o nt gate s and p ick et
co nstr u ctio n s it e s.  ey d on’t h av e t h e k no w-h ow t o p u ll o ff a co mple x jo b li k e
th is .”
“ I w ou ld n’t b e so q u ick to d is m is s th em ,” M olly sa id co olly . “Y o u’d be
su rp ris e d w hat th ey ’r e ca pab le o f. And w e’v e p ick ed u p so m e ch atte r fr o m
th em over th e p ast f ew w eek s. . . . ”
“C hatte r?” I a sk ed .
M olly su dden ly sw iv ele d to w ard m e. I co uld n’t re a d h er e x p re ssio n be hind
h er s u n gla sse s, bu t it d id n’t a p pea r s h e w as h ap py t o b e int err u pte d . A nd b y a
k id , n o l ess.
It o ccu rre d to m e th at th e r u le s h ad ch an ged .  e la st tim e th ere ’d be en a
crim e a t F un Ju n gle , I’d b een a llo w ed to a sk q u estio ns . (H oene kker m ig h t no t
hav e a p pre cia te d it , bu t it h ad b een allo w ed .) N ow it s e em ed t h at I h ad s p oken
o u t o f tu rn .

Molly re m oved h er g la sse s, allo w ing m e to se e h er e y es fo r th e � rst tim e.
 ey w ere a p ie rcin g g re en , th e s a m e co lo r a s t h e s k in of a n em era ld t r e e bo a,
an d th ey se em ed to b e b orin g rig h t th ro u gh m e. “Y o u m ust b e  eo d ore
R oose v elt F it z ro y,” sh e sa id . “I’v e h ea rd q u it e a lo t a bo ut y o u fr o m m y sis te r.
S h e s ay s y ou’r e a rea l tr ou ble m ak er.”
“ Y o u r s is te r is w ro n g,” I rep li e d .
“It w ou ld n’t b e th e � rst tim e.” M olly lo oked to M arg e a g ain and g av e h er
a n oth er cr uel s m ile .
“A nyth in g yo u’v e hea rd ab ou t Ted dy be ing tr o u bl eso m e is erro ne ou s
in fo rm atio n ,” J .J . sa id q u ick ly . “Y o u r s is te r—a nd a ll o f u s a t F unJ ung le —h av e
fo u n d h im t o b e o f g re a t h elp in s o lvin g s e v era l ca se s h ere . H e m ig h t o nl y be a
b oy, bu t h e’s a r e g u la r E ncy clop ed ia B ro w n. It w ou ld n’t b e a b ad id ea to h av e
h im aro u n d.”
M olly la u gh ed . “A t th e F B I , w e d on’t n eed ch ild re n to h elp u s so lv e o u r
crim es. W e’r e f ully ca pab le o f h an dli ng them on o ur o wn.”
 e th re e F B I a gen ts l au gh ed a t th is a s w ell.
N o o n e w ho w ork ed a t F un Ju n gle th ou gh t it w as fu n ny . Even M arg e. H er
a n noyan ce at h er s is te r s eem ed to even t ru m p h er u su al a nno yan ce at m e.
“ S p ea k in g o f w hich ,” M olly w en t o n, th en tu rne d t o fa ce m e a nd S u m mer.
“  is is a crim e sce ne, ch ild re n . Yo u ne ed to le a v e it . N ow .” S h e th en sh if t e d
h er a tte n tio n to a ll th e a d u lt s . “ at g o es fo r th e re st o f y o u to o.  is a re a is
r e str icte d to F B I perso n nel— un le ss I re q u est yo u r pre se nce . And at th e
m om en t, th e o nly p erso n I n eed is C hie f H oene kker.”
W it h th at, sh e tu rn ed h er b ack o n ev ery o ne , as th ou gh w e h ad su ddenl y
ce ase d to exis t, a nd s te p ped in sid e t he p and a t ru ck .
On t h e lo ad in g d ock , th e o th er t h re e F B I a g en ts f o rm ed a h um an b lo ck ad e
betw een u s a nd th e crim e s ce ne.
H oen ek ker sta rte d to sa y so m eth ing , bu t J.J . ca ugh t h is arm b efo re h e
co uld . “I k n ow y o u’r e n ot h ap py ab ou t th is ,” J.J . to ld h im , “b u t th ere ’s n o
poin t in a rg u in g it . Yo u’r e n ot g o nna w in. So ju st be a g o od s o ld ie r, pla y ba ll,
a n d h elp g et D oc a nd m y p an da b ack .”
J .J . th en tu rn ed to m e, lo okin g g enu ine ly so rr y . “L ooks li k e y o u’r e g o nna
h av e to sit th is o n e o u t, Ted dy. I’m su re w e ca n tr u st th e fe d s to h and le it .

C’m on , fo lk s. W e’v e a ll g o t b ette r th ing s to d o th an m illi ng a ro u nd h ere a ll
d ay.” H e h ea d ed b ack dow n o ff th e l oad ing dock .
 ere w as n oth in g to d o b u t fo ll o w h im . I g la n ce d a t M arg e a s w e a ll le ft .
S h e w as g la rin g b ack a t th e p an da tr u ck . It o ccu rre d to m e s h e’d o nl y s p oken
tw o w ord s to her s is te r.
“ I ca n’t b eli e v e th is ,” S u m mer p ro te ste d to h er fa th er. “H ow ca n th ey ju st
co me in here a nd k ick all o f u s o ut l ik e t his ?”
“  eir jo b is to so lv e th e crim e,” J.J . ex p la ine d. “H ow th ey d o it is u p to
th em .”
“ W ell, if th ey w an t to solv e th e cr im e, w hy bo ot T ed dy? H e’s t he be st cr im e-
so lv er w e h av e!”
“ I’m not a s g ood a s th e F B I ,” I p oin te d o ut. “ I’m only th ir te en. ”
“A nd b are ly th ir te en , at th at,” M om a d ded . “T o b e h one st, Su m mer, I’m
g la d th is h ap pen ed . I k n ow T ed dy h as so lv ed so m e o th er ca se s h ere , bu t h e
alw ay s e n ded u p in d an ger a s a r e su lt . Yo u d id t o o, la st t im e. I’d p re fe r t h at no t
hap pen a g ain . Plu s, it ’s n ot o n ly a n an im al w hose li f e is a t s ta k e th is tim e; it ’s
D oc, to o. S o I ’m hap py to lea v e th is i n t he h an ds o f t he p ro fe ssio na ls f or o nce .”
A t t h is , sh e g av e J .J . a g la n ce . It w as q u ick , bu t it w as lo ad ed w it h m ea ni ng ;
Mom w as still a n gry a t h im fo r fo rci ng m e to h elp inv estig ate th e la st ca se a t
F un Ju n gle .
“ O kay, M rs. Fit z ro y,” S u m mer s a id . “I g et it .” B ut t h en, sh e le a n ed in close
to m e a n d w his p ere d , “ ey ’r e still m ak ing a m is ta k e. I’l l b et y o u co uld so lv e
th is w it h y ou r e yes cl ose d .”
I g rin ned , ple a se d b y S u m mer’s f a it h in me, alt h ou gh I w as s e cr etly r e li e v ed
to b e k ick ed o ff th e ca se . M om w as r ig h t. In th e p ast y ea r, w hile inv estig ating
t h e v ario u s crim es a t F un Ju n gle , I’d b een str a n ded in a r o om w it h a v eno mou s
sn ak e ( w hich h ad y et t o b e fo u n d), plu n ged int o a s h ark t a n k, le ft fa ce -to -fa ce
w it h a n e sca ped tig er, bare ly a v o id ed b eing tr a m ple d b y e le p h ant s, gau rs, and
C ap e b uff alo — an d d an gle d a bove a p it f ull o f m an -e a ting cr oco dile s.
P lu s, I w asn ’t a s s u re o f m y crim e-s o lv ing a b ili t ie s a s S u m mer w as. I m ig h t
hav e cra cked a f e w ca se s, bu t m ay be t h at h ad ju st be en lu ck . I h ad no i d ea h ow
so m eo n e co uld h av e k id n ap ped D oc an d L i P ing f r o m a m oving t r u ck w it h ou t
L arg e M arg e o r th e d riv ers n otici ng , an d I fe a re d th at, m ay be th is tim e, I

wou ld n’t � gu re i t o u t. W hich w ou ld le t e v ery o ne d ow n—a nd le a v e D oc and L i
Pin g in dan ger.
S o a s w e le ft t h e crim e s ce ne b eh ind , I a ct ually f e lt � ne . Yes, I w as a nno yed
w it h h ow d is m is siv e M olly O ’M alle y h ad b een abo ut m e, bu t o vera ll, I w as
h ap py th at a p ro fe ssio n al o rg an iz a tio n li k e th e F B I h ad b een b ro u gh t in to
s o lv e th e crim e a n d th at, fo r o n ce , an inv estig atio n was g o ing to ta k e p la ce
w it h ou t m e.
O nly , th in gs d id n’t w ork o ut th at w ay a t a ll.

TH E T H REA T
“I c a n’t b elie ve M arg e h as a sis te r l ik e th at, ” S um mer s aid .
“N eit h er ca n I ,” I a g re ed . E ven t h ou gh a lo t o f s tr a n ge t h ing s h ad h ap pene d
th at m orn in g— Li P in g a n d D oc vani sh ing , a d olp h in ste a li ng m y ba th ing s u it
— th e fa ct th at M arg e an d M olly O ’M alle y w ere sis te rs w as th e h ard est to
b eli e v e.
“A ll th is tim e w e’v e k n ow n M arg e a n d sh e ne ver m ent io ne d a sis te r o nce ,”
S u m mer s aid .
“W hy w ou ld sh e?” I a sk ed . “M arg e h as ba re ly sa id a ny th ing to m e e x ce pt
‘Y o u’r e in trou ble n ow , T ed dy.’ ”
“ O r” — Su m mer d id h er b est M arg e im pre ssio n, sco wli ng —“ I’l l g et y o u t h is
t im e, y ou lit tle p ip sq u ea k !”
I la u gh ed , so sh e k ep t g o in g. “Y o u’r e a b ad e g g, Ted dy F it z ro y! S u re , ou r
an im als a re g ettin g k ille d a n d sto le n, bu t y o u p u t a w hoop ie cu sh io n on th e
se a t o f m y ca r! A s f a r a s I ’m co nce rne d, yo u’r e p u bl ic ene my n um be r o ne a nd I
w on’t r est u ntil y ou’r e b eh in d b ars!”
S u m mer’s im pre ssio n w as sta rtli n gly g o od , an d v ery fu nny . I w as la u gh ing
s o h ard , I had to ste a d y m yse lf a gains t t he r aili ng of t he p ola r be ar e xh ibi t.
W e w ere in sid e th e P ola r P avil io n, beca use it w as th e co ld est ex h ibi t at
F un Ju n gle . Sin ce Li Pin g was m is sing and we’d been kick ed off th e
in vestig atio n , w e n ow h ad t h e d ay f r e e a t F unJ ung le . It w as n asty h ot, th ou gh .
A t 1 0 :0 0 a .m ., it w as a lr e a d y n in ety -� ve d eg re es, an d s o h um id , it fe lt li k e w e
w ere s w ad dle d in wet to wels . S o w e’d co me t o t he f ak e A rct ic.

Oth er zo os had hea vil y air -co nd it io ne d ex h ibi ts fo r pola r be ars, bu t
Fun Ju n gle w as t h e o n ly p la ce t h at r e fr ig era te d t h e e nt ir e bu ild ing .  is a llo w ed
g u ests to se e th e b ea rs in th eir n atu ra l h abi ta t—o r a t le a st, a fa cs im ile o f it —
w it h ou t g la ss in b etw een th em .  e b ea rs h ad a bi g, icy are a th e siz e o f a
b ase b all d ia m on d, su rro u n ded b y a m oat o f fr ig id w ate r th at th ey lo ved to
s w im in , an d th e g u ests co uld w atch it all fr o m a p ath w ay th at lo op ed th e
m oat. (A sa fe ty ra ili n g ca nte d o u t a fo ot be yo nd th e vie w ing w all to k eep
a n yo n e fr o m accid en ta lly fa lli n g in.) O n occa sio n, FunJ ung le ev en mad e it
s n ow in si d e th e b u ild in g, usin g a sp ecia lly d esig ne d m ach ine th at b le w ice
� ak es o u t o f v en ts in th e ce ili n g.  e b ea rs a n d th e g u ests a ll enj oyed th is ,
a lt h ou gh o n s e v era l o cca sio n s, p ark s e cu rit y h ad t o s to p g u ests f r o m p elt ing t h e
pola r b ea rs— or o th er p eo p le — wit h s n ow balls . K eep ing s u ch a bi g bu ild ing s o
co ld m ad e th e Pola r Pavil io n th e m ost ex p ens iv e ex h ibi t to m aint ain at
F un Ju n gle , co stin g th ou sa n ds o f d olla rs a m ont h f or a ir -co nd it io ni ng alo ne .
 ere w ere als o oth er co ld -w ea th er an im als in th e pav ili o n: walr u se s,
le o p ard se a ls , cra bea te r se a ls , an d b elu ga w hale s, all o f w hich co uld be se en
a b ove a n d b elo w w ate r. A nd o f c o u rse , th ere w ere p eng uins : a h uge co lo ny o f
em pero rs, A déli e s, gen to os, m aca ro ni s, ch ins tr a p s, H um bo ld ts , an d ja ck asse s.
(S o m e g u ests h ad a ctu ally co mpla ine d a bo ut th e n am es o f th e la st o ne s, bu t
“ja ck ass” w as t h e o ffi cia l a p pela tio n; th ey w ere ca lle d t h at be cause t h eir br ay ing
crie s so u n ded so m ew hat li k e d onk ey s.)  e p eng uins w ere still k ep t be hind
g la ss, th ou gh .  ey w ere n ’t d an gero u s; th ey ju st sm elle d te rribl e.  re e d oze n
p en gu in s p ro d u ce d a tr e m en dou s am ou nt o f p eng uin poop , and th e ent ir e
e xh ib it r eek ed o f p artia lly d ig este d � sh .
N orm ally , a d ay a s h ot a s t h is o n e w ou ld h av e b een fa r m ore cr ow ded i n th e
Pola r P avil io n , bu t th e cr ow ds w ere still m obbi ng th e P and a P ala ce . W hile
n ew s h ad q u ick ly sp re a d a b ou t L i P ing ’s a rriv al th at m orni ng , lo ts o f g u ests
h ad m is se d t h e u pd ate t h at t h e p and a w asn ’t o n dis p la y y et. S o n ow t h ey w ere
p ou rin g in to th e p ark a n d ra cing str a ig h t to th e e m pty p and a e x h ibi t. Since
t h at w as o n th e fa r sid e o f F un Ju n gle fr o m th e P ola r P av ili o n, most p eo p le
h ad n’t co me b ack o u r w ay yet. By aft e rno on, how ev er, th e p av ili o n wou ld
p ro b ab ly b e p ack ed w all to wall w it h p eo p le s eek ing a b re a k f ro m the h ea t.
 ere w ere s till a f e w g u ests a ro u nd , th ou gh , so S u m mer w as t a k ing ca re t o
a v o id b ein g r e co gn iz e d . Sh e h ad c h an ged o u t o f h er u su al p ink cl oth es, tu ck ed

her lo n g hair up un dern ea th a FunJ ung le su nh at, and w as now w ea ring
s u n gla sse s e ven th ou gh s he w as in doors.
“ M olly m ust b e w ay sm arte r th an M arg e, rig h t? ” S u m mer ask ed m e. “I
m ea n , s he’s F B I .”
“ I g uess,” I a gre ed . “ Sh e se em ed s m art.”
“ B ut n ot v ery n ice .”
“ N o. E sp ecia lly n ot to M arg e.”
“ D o yo u th in k sh e m ig h t h av e be en rig h t, th en? ” S u m mer lo w ere d h er
v o ice , to m ak e s u re n o o n e a ro u n d u s w ou ld o verh ea r h er. “A bo ut h er s u sp ect s
fo r s te a li n g L i P in g?”
“ I d on’t k n ow . I g u ess it co uld b e an im al tr a ffi ck ers o r so m eo ne w it h a
g ru dge a g ain st th e C hin ese g o vernm ent . But I’m no t su re a b ou t th at a ni m al
rig h ts g ro u p.” I tr ie d to re m em be r th e n am e sh e’d m ent io ne d. “ e N atu re
F re ed om Fou n datio n ?”
“ F re ed om Forc e ,” S u m mer co rre cte d. “D ad dy’s alw ay s co mpla in in g a b ou t
th em .  ey s p li n te re d o ff fr o m th e A ni m al L ibe ra tio n Fro nt , and th ey ’r e e v en
m ore d ete rm in ed to get F un Ju n gle sh ut d ow n. ey ’v e b een pick eting o u t
alo n g th e ro ad th at le a d s h ere , and D ad dy th ink s th ey m ig h t h av e sa bo ta g ed
so m e o f th e co nstr u ctio n e qu ip m ent for t he ne w rid es.”
“ R ea lly ?” I a sk ed . It m ad e s e n se t h at I m ig h t h av e m is se d t h e p ick ete rs, as I
a lw ay s ca me in to t h e p ark t h ro u gh t h e r e a r e m plo yee e nt ra n ce ne ar m y h ou se ,
b u t I w as s u rp ris e d I h ad n’t h ea rd a b ou t s o m eth ing a s bi g a s s a bo ta g e. “W hat
h ap pen ed ?”
“ O ne o f th e cra nes b u ild in g th e B la ck M am ba C oaste r b ro ke d ow n a fe w
w eek s a g o .  e e le ctrica l p an el o r so m eth ing . N o o ne co uld � gu re it o u t, bu t
Dad dy’s s u re t h e N FF m esse d w it h it .  ey h ate t h is p ark . N o m atte r h ow w ell
w e t r e a t t h e a n im als , th ey s till a ct li k e t h is is ju st s o m e g ia n t p ris o n. So , yea h , I
co uld s ee th em ta kin g L i P in g.”
I sh ook m y h ea d , not li k in g th is id ea . “W hen Henr y th e H ip po w as
m urd ere d , ev ery o n e th ou gh t th e A nim al L ibe ra tio n Fro nt w as b eh ind it , and
th ey w ere w ro n g.”
“  at d oesn ’t m ea n th e N FF d id n’t d o th is .”
“ If t h e N FF is a g ain st a n im als b ein g h eld ca pt iv e in zo os, w hy w ou ld th ey
ta k e o ne ca ptiv e th em se lv es?”

“F or te n m illi o n d olla rs.  at co uld f und an a w fu l l ot o f e nv ir o -a ct iv is m .”
“  ere are w ay s to get te n m illi o n dolla rs th at d on’t inv olv e ste a li ng a
p an da.”
“ M ay b e. B ut th is o ne m ig h t w ork .”
I s ta re d o u t a t t h e p ola r b ea rs, th ink ing a bo ut t h at.  ere w ere t w o be ars o n
d is p la y a t th e m om en t, pacin g a ro u nd o n th e ice . B oth w ere e no rm ou s. Pola r
b ea rs a re t h e la rg est p re d ato rs o n la nd ; ea ch w eig h ed ne arly h alf a t o n and w as
a s b ig a s a rh in o w hen o n a ll f ou rs.
“ Is y ou r f ath er r ea lly g oin g to pay u p?” I a sk ed .
Su m mer s h ru gged . “I d on’t k n ow . I d on’t th ink th e F B I w an ts h im to . B ut
h e h as to get th at p an da b ack . It’l l be a d is a ste r f or t he p ark i f h e d oesn ’t .”
I f r o w ned . “I s till d on’t t h in k i t ’s t h e N FF . L ik e y o u s a id , th ey m ostly p ick et
th e p ark . Even if th ey sa b ota g ed a cr an e, th at d oesn ’t m ak e th em a bu nch o f
co mman dos. I d ou bt th ey ’d k n ow h ow to ste a l so m eth ing fr o m a m oving
t r u ck .”
“ W ell, it co uld n’t b e an im al tr a ffi ck ers eit h er,” Su m mer sa id . “If th ey ’r e
g o in g to sell th e p an da, w hy w ou ld t hey l ea v e a ran so m no te ?”
“ T o m ak e u s th in k it w as th e N FF ,” I su ggeste d . “O r so m e o th er a n im al
rig h ts g ro u p. And w hile th e F B I is d is tr a cte d, th ey d eli v er L i P ing to th eir
b u yer. I ’l l b et th ere ’s p le n ty o f rich peo p le w ho’d love t o h av e a p an da.”
“ M ay b e,” S u m mer s a id , th ou gh s h e d id n’t s e em s o co nv ince d. “I h av e t o g o
to th e b ath ro om . W ait h ere f or m e?”
“A ll rig ht,” I said .
Su m mer h ea d ed t o t h e w om en ’s r o om . I r e tu rne d m y a tte nt io n to t h e p ola r
b ea rs.
 ey w ere n ow s n iffi ng t h e a ir , li k e t h ey w ere o n th e h unt . FunJ ung le o ft e n
p u m ped s ce nts i n to t h e r o om t o k eep t h e b ea rs s tim ula te d .  eir s e ns e o f s m ell
w as f a r m ore k een t h an h um an s’— in th e w ild , th ey h ad b een kn ow n to d ete ct
a ca rca ss fr o m tw en ty m ile s aw ay —s o F unJ ung le u se d sce nt s so fa int th at
h um an s co uld n’t ev en d ete ct th em . W hich w as g o od n ew s w hen th e sm ell
b ein g p u m ped in to t h e r o om w as t h at o f a r o tting s e a l.  e g u ests ne ver k ne w
it w as b ein g d on e; as f a r a s t h ey w ere co nce rne d, th e be ars w ere ju st p u tting o n
a s how .

One b ea r in hale d d eep ly a n d re a re d u p o n it s h ind le g s. It w as n ea rly te n
fe et ta ll li k e th is , ta lle r th an alm ost an y o th er an im al o n ea rth .  e g u ests
a ro u n d m e g asp ed in am aze m en t.
I s n iff ed t h e a ir m yse lf , tr y in g t o p ick u p o n th e s ce nt .  is t im e, I t h ou gh t
I ca ugh t a h in t o f so m eth in g r a n k. O nly, it sm elle d m ore li k e b ad bo dy o d or
th an I e xp ecte d.
M arg e O ’M alle y s udden ly l ea n ed a gains t t he r ail ne xt t o m e.
I fa n ned m y n ose in d is g u st. O n a h ot d ay li k e t h is , M arg e s w ea te d a g re a t
d ea l a nd co uld o verw helm even th e m ost p ow erfu l d eo d ora n t.
“ I n eed to talk to you ,” s he s aid .
I tr ie d to ru n , beca use th at w as g ene ra lly a g o od m ove w hene ver M arg e
ca me l ookin g f or m e. B ut s he g ra b bed m y w ris t be fo re I co uld g et a w ay.
“ I w asn ’t d oin g a nyth in g!” I to ld h er. “ I w as j u st s ta n ding here .”
“ I k now ,” s he s aid . “ I’m not h ere to bu st y ou .”
“ R ea lly ?” I a sk ed s usp icio usly .
“ R ea lly .”
“  en let g o o f m e.”
M arg e d id . Sh e re le a se d m y w ris t and h eld h er h and s u p, palm s o p en,
sig n ali n g s h e m ea n t n o h arm . U nfo rtu na te ly , w it h h er a rm s r a is e d , th e s te nch
fr o m h er a rm pit s w as e v en w orse . E ven th e p ola r b ea rs s e em ed b oth ere d b y it .
 e o n e o n it s re a r le g s d ro p ped d ow n a nd co vere d it s no se w it h it s p aw s, as
th ou gh tr yin g to blo ck M arg e’s b od y o dor f ro m ent ering its n ostr ils .
“ W hat d o y ou w an t? ” I a sk ed .
M arg e g rim ace d, li k e w hat sh e w as abo ut to sa y w as g o ing to ca use h er
p h ysica l p ain . “ I n eed y ou r h elp .”
 e sta te m en t w as so sta rtli n g, I th ou gh t I h ad n’t h ea rd h er co rre ct ly .
“ W hat? ”
“ I n eed y ou r h elp ,” M arg e r ep ea te d , t hro u gh g rit te d t eeth t his t im e.
“ D oin g w hat? ”
“ P uttin g m y b ig -s h ot, k now -it - a ll s is te r i n h er p la ce .”
“ Y o u m ea n , l ik e p la y in g a p ra n k o n h er?”
“ N o, doo fu s. I w an t to � n d th is p an da b efo re sh e ca n. And p ro ve th at
M olly ’s n ot a s s m art a s s he th in ks s he i s.”

I g av e M arg e a w ary lo ok. “I ca n’t d o t h at. Yo u r s is te r t o ld m e t o s ta y a w ay
fr o m th e in vestig atio n .”
“ B eca use s he’s a fr a id o f a lit tle co mpetit io n. ”
“N o. B ec a u se s h e w an ts m e t o s ta y a w ay. A nd d is o be ying h er is a g ains t t h e
la w .”
“  ere ’s n o l aw th at s ay s w e ca n’t i nv estig ate t his cr im e t oo.”
“ A ctu ally ,” I said , “ I th in k th ere is . . . . ”
“W ell th en , w e’l l j u st h av e to make sure s he d oesn ’t k now w e’r e d oing it.”
I lo o ked aro u n d to se e if an y oth er gu ests w ere ea v esd ro p ping on us.
E very o n e se em ed to o d is tr a cte d b y th e be ars, th ou gh . A nd th ey w ere k eep ing
t h eir d is ta n ce t o g et a w ay f r o m M arg e’s s te nch . I s a id , “E very t im e t h ere ’s be en
a cri me a t th is p ark , yo u’v e a ccu se d m e o f co mmit ting it a nd ig no re d a ll m y
atte m pts t o � n d t h e a ctu al crim in al. A nd no w y o u’r e a sk ing m e t o inv estig ate a
crim e e ven th ou gh th e F B I h as o rd ere d m e n ot to ?”
“ Y es,” M arg e s a id , co mple te ly ig n ora n t o f t h e ir o ny . “Y o u’r e a lw ay s t r y ing t o
p ro ve w hat a b rilli a n t k id y ou a re . S o no w I’m giv ing you t he ch an ce to d o i t.”
“ B ut I d on’t w an t to do it. ”
“W ell, y ou’r e g oin g to do it a nyh ow .”
“ N o I ’m not.” I trie d to sli p a w ay.
O nce ag ain , M arg e m oved fa ste r th an I h ad ex p ect ed , as th ou gh sh e’d
a n ticip ate d th is . Sh e g ra b bed m y a rm a n d sh oved m e u p a g ains t th e ra ili ng .
“Y o u d on’t u n dersta n d w hat it w as li k e, being h er sis te r.”  ere w as a ng er in
M arg e’s v o ice , th ou gh I co uld n’t t e ll if it w as d ir e ct ed a t m e o r M olly . “S h e w as
a lw ay s s o g o od a t e v ery th in g: sch ool, sp orts , dating , yo u n am e it . Sh e w as th e
vale d icto ria n an d th e h om eco min g q u een . A nd sh e r u bbe d e v ery la st b it o f it
in m y fa ce . M y w hole li f e , sh e’s b een te lli ng m e sh e’s be tte r th an I a m . A nd
now , as if th at w asn ’t e n ou gh , sh e sh ow s u p o n my tu rf, cl aim ing ju ris d ict io n
over m y ca se , a ctin g l ik e th e p an da’s d is a p p ea ra n ce is m y f au lt s om eh ow .”
“ M arg e, it is k in d o f y ou r f au lt . . . . ”
“It is n ot!” M arg e’s sh ou t w as so lo u d, th e p ola r b ea rs li f t e d th eir h ea d s,
sta rtle d .  e o th er to uris ts tu rn ed o ur w ay, cu rio u s.
I lo w ere d m y v o ice s o t h ey co uld n’t h ea r m e. “B ut y o u w ere s u ppose d t o be
g u ard in g L i P in g in th e tr uck w hen s om eo ne sto le h er.”

“I w as o n th e a le rt e v ery m in ute o f th at rid e,” M arg e sa id d efe ns iv ely . “I
d id n’t d ro p m y g uard f or o ne m om ent .”
“  en h ow ’d s om eo n e s te a l th e p and a?”
“ If I k n ew th at, I w ou ld n’t b e c o m ing to y o u fo r h elp , w ou ld I?” M arg e
b ack ed o ff a tin y b it , a llo w in g m e t o p ull a w ay f ro m the co ld r aili ng .
“Y o u w ere o n g u ard fo r e ig h te en h ou rs str a ig h t? ” I a sk ed d u bio u sly . “Y o u
d id n’t f all a sle ep ?”
“ N ev er.”
“ N ot e ven in th e m id dle o f th e n ig h t? ”
“ I w as d rin kin g co ffee th e w hole tim e. I’m te lli ng y o u , w hoev er to ok L ea f
S p rin g w as n o o rd in ary crim in al.”
“ L i P in g,” I co rre cte d.
“W hate v er. Poin t is , w e’r e g o n na � nd th ese cr im ina ls be fo re m y s is te r d oes
— an d w e’r e g on na m ak e h er l ook l ik e a fool.”
“ If y o u w an t to d o th at, th at’s � n e w it h m e,” I sa id , ed ging a w ay slo w ly .
“ B ut y ou ca n’t m ak e m e d o it. ”
“Y es I ca n.”
“ H ow ? B y a ccu sin g m e o f a n oth er cr im e I d id n’t co mmit ? Y o u’v e d one t h at
to o m an y tim es. N o o ne’s e ver g oing to be li e v e y ou .”
“ W ho sa id I w as g o n na a ccu se yo u o f a crim e?” M arg e a sk ed .  ere w as a
d evio us g li n t in her e yes.
I su dden ly g o t a fe eli n g li k e I w as a se a l in th e w ate r w it h th e p ola r be ars.
“ W hat a re y ou ta lk in g a bou t? ”
“ Y o u r g ir lf r ie n d is n’t a s p erfe ct a s e very o ne think s.”
“ S u m mer’s n ot m y g ir lf r ie n d.”
“ Y ea h , rig h t. I’v e b een w atch in g y o u t w o,” M arg e t o ld m e. “Y o u’r e t o geth er
ev ery ch an ce y o u g et, han gin g o u t, ea ting a ll y o u r m ea ls to geth er .  . . m ak ing
f u n o f m e.”
I s w allo w ed h ard , re a li z in g M arg e h ad p ro ba bly be en watch ing u s t h e w hole
t im e w e’d b een in t h e P ola r P avil io n, wait ing f o r t h e ch an ce t o g et m e a lo ne . If
so , th ere w as a g o od ch an ce s h e’d o verh ea rd u s im it a ting h er. “S u m mer w asn ’t
m ak in g f un o f y ou . . . . ”
“It ju st so h ap pen s, I h av e re co vere d se cu rit y fo ota g e o f M is s F an cy -P ant s
sh op li f t in g a t th e F un Ju n gle E mporiu m . M ult ip le t im es.”

My s to m ach cl en ch ed w it h a n xie ty . I k ne w e x act ly w hat M arg e w as t a lk ing
a b ou t. B eca use I’d se en it h ap pen .  e E m poriu m w as a n eno rm ou s sto re b y
th e en tr y pla za th at so ld ev ery th ing fr o m sna cks to T-s h ir ts to ath le tic
e q u ip m en t. Q uit e o ft e n , w hen S u m mer w as h un gry , sh e w ou ld sim ply w alk
i n sid e a n d ta k e w hate v er sh e w ant ed : ca nd y, Pop sicl es, so d as. Sh e h ad a lw ay s
cl aim ed th at it w asn ’t re a lly sh op li f t ing , beca use her fa th er had paid fo r
ev ery th in g in t h e � rst p la ce , an d s ince t h e cl erk s a ll k n ew h er, th ey ne ver r a is e d
a f uss.
“ It’s n ot s te a li n g,” I s a id a s co n�dent ly a s I co uld , hop ing I w as r ig h t. “N ot
if s he’s o nly ta kin g th in gs f ro m her f ath er.”
“ D oesn ’t m atte r,” M arg e r e p li e d . “W hat’s im porta n t is , it ’l l lo ok li k e s te a li n g
to e very o n e e ls e .”
“ H ow ?”
“ L et’s s a y t h ese s e cu rit y t a p es h ap pene d t o e nd u p a t s o m e o f t h ose w ebs it e s
th at p ost em barr a ssin g vid eo s o f ce le br it ie s. Foota g e o f a g ir l as fa m ou s as
S u m mer s h op li f t in g w ou ld p ro b ab ly g et a co uple m illi o n hit s , ea sy . A nd t h ose
vie wers w on’t re a li z e sh e’s o n ly ta k ing m erch and is e fr o m h er d ad dy.  ey ’l l
t h in k s h e’s b re a k in g t h e la w . Su ddenl y, Su m mer w on’t be A m erica ’s S w eeth ea rt
a n ym ore . Sh e’l l b e ju st a n oth er s p oile d r ich g ir l w it h a lo ad o f s k ele to ns in her
cl ose t.” M arg e s m ile d cr uelly a s s he s aid t his , r eli s h ing the t hou gh t o f i t.
M y ja w w as cl en ch ed s o t ig h t in a ng er, it w as a lm ost h ard t o s p ea k . “If y o u
d o th at, J .J. w ill � re y ou .”
“ N ot if he d oesn ’t � nd o ut it w as m e.”
“ I’l l te ll h im it w as y ou .”
“ Y o u’l l n ev er b e a b le to p ro ve it . I a lr e a d y h av e th e fo ota g e. I ca n g et it to
th ese sit e s w it h ou t le a vin g a n y tr a ce I d id it . A ll I h av e to d o is d ro p it in a
mailb ox. In t w o d ay s i t ’l l b e a ll o ver t h e W eb . A nd S u m mer’s r e p u ta tio n will be
d ir t.”
I d id n’t r e p ly . I d id n’t k n ow w hat to s a y. I k ne w M arg e w as p ro ba bly r ig h t
ab ou t h ow th e w orld w ou ld re sp ond . I w as p re tty su re th at, in my m id dle
s ch ool a lo n e, th ere w ere p le n ty o f p eo p le w ho w ou ld q u ick ly t u rn on Su m mer
th e m om en t s h e a p pea re d t o h av e b ro ken th e la w . Su m mer h ad o ft e n to ld m e
how ca utio u s s h e w as t o n ev er d o a n yth ing e m ba rr a ssing in pu bli c fo r f e a r o f it

bein g r e co rd ed . B ut it h ad o b vio usly ne ver o ccu rre d t o h er t h at s h e co uld be s o
e a sily u ndon e b y h er o wn f ath er’s s ecu rit y s yste m .
“If y o u g o to J .J ., or y o u r p are n ts , or a n yo ne e ls e , an d te ll th em a bo ut th is
— or d o a n yth in g e ls e t o g et m e in tr o u bl e—t hen I’l l m ail t h e f o ota g e,” M arg e
w arn ed .  en s h e s te p ped b ack , le tting g o o f m e a n d a ct ing ni ce a nd fr ie nd ly ,
a s th ou gh sh e h ad n’t ju st th re a te ne d m y g ir lf r ie nd . “B ut w e ca n a v o id a ll th at
m essin ess if y o u ju st a g re e t o h elp m e. A nd I k no w, deep d ow n ins id e, Ted dy,
th at y o u w an t t o � n d w hoev er s to le t h at p an da a s b ad a s I d o. So w hat d o y o u
sa y ? A re w e p artn ers?”
M arg e w as w ro n g. W hile I w an te d so m eo n e to � n d L i P in g an d D oc, I
did n’t f e el t h at i t h ad t o b e m e. I t r u ste d h er s is te r a nd t h e r e st o f t h e F B I to do
it , a nd I d id n’t w an t to cross th em up o r g et o n t heir ba d s id e.
B ut I a ls o d id n’t w an t S u m mer’s r e p u ta tio n ru ine d. A nd I w as w illi ng t o d o
w hate v er it to ok to pro te ct her.  ere m ig h t hav e been so m e w ay to
u n derm in e M arg e’s p la n , bu t I h ad n o id ea w hat it w as. U nt il I ca me u p w it h
s o m eth in g, I w as g oin g to hav e to at l ea st a ct l ik e I w as h elp in g M arg e.
“ W hat d o y ou n eed m e to do?” I a sk ed .
M arg e sm ile d ag ain , extr em ely p le a se d w it h h erse lf . “Ju st d o w hat yo u
alw ay s d o. Stick y o u r n ose w here it d oesn ’t b elo ng .” S h e n otice d t h at S u m mer
w as o n h er w ay b ack fro m th e b ath ro om , t hen s aid , “ I’l l b e i n t ou ch .”
W it h th at, s he s li p ped a w ay, h ea d ing off tow ard t he w alr u se s.
I sh iv ere d as I w atch ed her go , bu t it had noth ing to do w it h th e
te m pera tu re o f th e r oom .
In th e exh ib it , on e o f th e p ola r be ars d ove int o th e w ate r. It sw am w it h
s u rp ris in g g ra ce a n d s p eed f o r a la nd a n im al t h e s iz e o f a ca r.  e g u ests o oh ed
a n d a ah ed .
Su m mer r e su m ed h er p la ce b esid e m e a t t h e r a ili ng . “S o rr y it t o ok s o lo ng .
 ere w as o n ly o n e to ile t w ork ing an d so m e gro ss w om an w as h ogging it
f o re v er.” S he l ooked d ow n th e h all a nd ask ed , “ Was t hat M arg e?”
“ Y es.”
“ W as s he a ccu sin g y ou o f s te a li n g L i P ing ?”
“ N o.”
“ W hat, th en ? P lo ttin g to m urd er th e pola r be ars? Fond li ng peng uins ?
W alr u s tra ffick in g?”

“S h e w an te d m e to help h er in vestig ate L i P ing ’s d is a p pea ra n ce .”
S u m mer s to p ped jo kin g a n d g ap ed a t m e. “M arg e O ’M alle y a sk ed fo r y o u r
h elp ?”
“ Y es. S he w an ts to �nd L i P in g a nd D oc be fo re h er s is te r ca n.”
S u m mer’s ey es li t u p w it h ex cit em ent . “S o u nd s li k e fu n. When do w e
sta rt? ”

EA VESD RO PPIN G
“T he b est p la ce to b eg in o u r in vestig atio n ,” S u m mer to ld m e a s w e
hea d ed o ut o f th e P ola r P avil io n , “ is b y � nd ing out w hat t he F B I h as l ea rn ed .”
“ H ow ?” I a sk ed .
“W e s py o n th eir in vestig atio n .”
“ A nd h ow are w e s uppose d to do t h at? ”
“ Ju st l ea v e it to me.” S um mer g rinne d p ro u dly . “ I h av e a p la n .”
W e p asse d t h ro u gh t h e e xit doors a n d w ere w allo p ed b y t h e h ea t. It w as li k e
b ein g tra nsp orte d f ro m A nta rctica to T ex as i n a n ins ta n t.
E ven t h ou gh S u m mer w as d oin g e x act ly w hat M arg e w an te d u s t o d o, I s till
f e lt I s h ou ld b e t h e v o ice o f ca utio n. It w as o ne t h ing t o s no op a ro u nd a bi t t o
g et M arg e o ff m y b ack . But I k n ew w e co uld g et in a lo t o f t r o u bl e b y cr ossing
t h e F B I .
“M olly w arn ed u s n ot to inte rfe re w it h h er i nv estig atio n, ” I said .
“B eca use sh e w an ts all th e g lo ry o f so lv ing th is fo r h erse lf and th e F B I .
W hich is re a lly se l� sh . Sh e’s n ot th ink ing a bo ut D oc or L i P ing . Sh e’s o nl y
th in kin g o f h erse lf .”
“ S o is M arg e. S he o nly w an ts to show u p h er s is te r.”
“ A t le a st sh e a sk ed fo r o u r h elp . A nd fo r o nce , sh e’s rig h t. Yo u’r e sm arte r
th an th e w hole F B I , T ed dy.”
“ N o, I ’m not.”
“ S u re y o u a re . Yo u’v e s o lv ed e v ery ca se y o u’v e e v er h ad . If a n yo ne ca n crack
th is ca se , it ’s y ou . M an , it ’s h ot. W ant a fro ze n f ru it ba r o r s om eth ing ?”

Fun Ju n gle E m poriu m , th e s it e o f S u m mer’s “ sh op li f t ing ,” lo om ed a h ea d . I’d
a llo w ed S u m mer t o t r e a t m e t o a s na ck t h ere d oze ns o f t im es, bu t no w t h ing s
had ch an ged .
“I’v e b een th in kin g,” I sa id , “m ay be y o u sh ou ld n’t ju st g ra b fo od at th e
E m poriu m w hen ev er y ou w an t. S om eo ne m ig h t t hink you’r e s te a li ng it.”
“ B ut I’m n ot. D ad dy a lr e a d y p aid fo r e v ery th ing . If so m e d u m b se cu rit y
g u ard trie s to bust m e, I ca n ju st c all m y f ath er.”
“ I did n’t m ea n a se cu rit y gu ard . I m ea n t a to u ris t. W hat if so m eo ne
re co gn iz e s y o u a n d � lm s y o u g ra bbi ng fo od w it h ou t p ay ing fo r it a nd p osts it
o n li n e?  at w ou ld look p re tty b ad .”
A f r o w n s p re a d a cr oss S u m mer’s f a ce a s m y p oint s a nk in. “W hat if w e w ere
re a lly s te a lt h ?” s he s uggeste d . “ If n o o ne sees u s, no one ca n � lm m e.”
“ W hat if w e ju st p aid fo r o u r s n ack s li k e n orm al p eo p le ? I ’m s u re y o u ca n
aff ord it. ”
“N ot rig ht n ow ,” S um mer g ro u se d . “ I’m no t ca rr y ing any m one y. A re y ou ?”
“ N o. D oesn ’t y o u r fa th er h av e a n a cco unt in th e p ark ? C ou ld y o u ju st t a k e
th e s tu ff to th e r eg is te r?”
“ I co uld , bu t th en I’d h av e to ca ll a tt e nt io n to m yse lf , and I’d g et stu ck
ta k in g s e l� es w it h to u ris ts fo r th e ne xt tw ent y m inu te s ins te a d o f � gu ring o u t
w ho to ok D oc an d L i P in g. Spe ak ing of w hich , we sh ou ld get on th at.”
S u m mer ca st a lo n gin g lo ok a t F unJ ung le E m poriu m , pro ba bly im ag ini ng t h e
ais le s o f fr o ze n tr e a ts in sid e, th en tu rne d h er b ack o n it a nd la u nch ed int o a
lo n g d ia tr ib e a bou t h ow spyin g o n t he F B I w as r e a lly t h e rig h t t h in g t o d o.  e
gis t w as t h at if w e a ll r e a lly w an te d t o r e scu e D oc an d L i P ing , th en th e m ore
p eo p le l ookin g f or th em , th e b ette r, a nd if M olly O ’M alle y co uld n’t s hare l ik e a
d ece nt p erso n , th en w e o w ed it t o D oc an d L i P ing t o � nd o u t w hat s h e k ne w.
I r e a li z e d t h ere ’d b e n o ch an ce o f t a lk ing S u m mer o u t o f t h is . O nce s h e g o t a n
id ea in her h ea d , y ou co uld n’t d is lo d ge i t w it h d yna mit e .
S o I ta ile d a lo n g a ft e r h er, �gu ring th e w orst th at co uld h ap pen was th at
M olly O ’M alle y w ou ld g et a n noyed a t u s a n d t e ll u s t o b ea t it . (M y ch an ce s o f
gettin g in t r o u ble w ere a lw ay s d im ini sh ed w hen Su m mer w as a ro u nd , be cause
n o o n e w an te d t o r is k J .J . M cC ra ck en ’s w ra th b y p u n is h ing h is d au gh te r.)  is
w ay, I co uld a t le a st cl aim to M arg e th at I w as tr y in g to h elp h er o u t— an d it

gav e m e so m eth in g to d o w it h S u m mer b esid es g o ing a ro u nd F unJ ung le fo r
th e th ou sa n dth tim e.
W e p asse d in to th e em plo yee se ct io n an d h ea d ed to th e ad m ini str a tio n
b u ild in g. M ost p eo p le n eed ed a s p eci al I D b ad ge t o e n te r A dm in , bu t S u m mer
sim ply w av ed t o t h e g u ard s a n d b re e ze d r ig h t t h ro u gh t h e s e cu rit y a re a . Since I
w as w it h h er, n o o n e b atte d a n e y e a t m e. W e t h en ro d e t h e e le v ato rs u p t o t h e
to p � oor, w here J .J . had le t th e F B I s e t u p ca mp in t h e co nfe re n ce r o o m ne xt
to h is o ffi ce .
 ere w as a la rg e re ce ptio n a re a o u ts id e J .J .’s o ffi ce . U su ally , lo ts o f p eo p le
w ere g ath ere d th ere , w ait in g to m eet w it h h im . J.J . ow ned lo ts o f co mpani es,
w hich d id ev ery th in g fr o m m ak ing la u n dry d ete rg ent to bu ild ing br id ges,
a lt h ou gh F un Ju n gle w as n ow h is m ain prio rit y . M ost o f h is b u sine sse s w ere
h ea d qu arte re d in S an A nto n io , bu t s ince J .J . w as t h e bo ss, an y t im e h e h ad t o
b e in a m eetin g, ev ery o n e ca me t o h im . T od ay, h ow ev er, th e r e ce ptio n are a w as
a lm ost e m pty . J.J . had ca nce lle d e v ery th ing to d ea l w it h th e p and a cr is is .  e
on ly p erso n w ait in g w as Ju an V ela sq u ez, th e d riv er o f th e P an da E xp re ss. H e
was s lu m ped in a ch air , a sle ep , a ppare n tly w orn o ut f ro m t h e l ong driv e.
H is re ce ptio n is t, Lyn da H ay es, m anne d a d esk ne arb y. Lynd a w as in her
sixtie s a n d h ad w ork ed f o r J .J . sin ce h e’d � rst s ta rte d o u t. Sh e h ad a ct ually be en
a fr ie n d o f J.J .’s m oth er, an d sh e cl aim ed to k n ow J.J . bette r th an he k ne w
him se lf .
L yn da n orm ally w as ca lm as co uld be , bu t th at m orni ng , sh e se em ed
o verw helm ed . Sh e w as fr a n tica lly ru nni ng th ro u gh ph one ca lls , sw it ch ing
q u ick ly f r o m o n e li n e t o t h e o th er. “J.J . M cC ra ck en ’s o ffi ce . N o, I’m s o rr y , he’s
n ot a v aila b le   .  . . J.J . M cC ra ck en ’s o ffi ce . N o, he is n ’t sp ea k ing to th e p re ss
to d ay, I’m s o rr y  .  . .” S h e g av e u s a q u ick w av e a s w e e nt ere d , th en point ed t o
th e p hon e, s ig n ali n g th at s he co uld n’t t alk .
A s w e n ea re d h er d esk , w e co uld s e e t h at s h e w as s tr e a m ing a 2 4- hou r ne ws
ch an nel on her co mpu te r.  e re a so n Lynd a lo oked so harrie d ins ta nt ly
b eca me cl ea r: W ord o f L i P in g’s d is a p pea ra n ce had g otte n o ut.
A b an ner o n th e scr een p ro cl aim ed PA N DA-M ONIU M : C RIS IS A T F U N JU N GLE !
O ne o f th e b ig n atio n al n ew s a nch ors, a w om an n am ed H ea th er S m it h , w as
g ivin g a n u pd ate o n th e sto ry . W it h h er p erfe ct h air a nd g le a m ing te eth , sh e
lo oked li k e a fe m ale v ersio n o f P ete  wack er. “F unJ ung le h as no t is su ed a ny

sta te m en t ab ou t th e d is a p pea ra n ce o f L i P ing ,” sh e an no unce d. “A lt h ou gh
so u rce s sa y th e C hin ese g o vern m en t is o u tr a g ed an d th at th e F B I is n ow
in vo lv ed in th e in vestig atio n .”
“ O h n o,” S u m mer g asp ed . Sh e t u rne d t o L ynd a a nd a sk ed , “W hen did t h is
h ap pen ?”
L yn da m ou th ed , “ Abou t a n h ou r a go .”
I ch eck ed m y w atch . It w as 1 0:4 5. It s u rp ris e d m e t h at w e’d m is se d w ord o f
th is , b ut th en , th ere w ere n o T V s anyw here in th e p ark .
“D ad dy m ust b e h avin g a h ea rt a tt a ck ,” S um mer s ig h ed .
O n t h e co mpu te r m on it o r, H ea th er S m it h s a id , “N ow jo ini ng u s t o d is cu ss
th e tr ia ls an d tr ib u la tio n s of ru nni ng a bu sine ss li k e F unJ ung le is W alt e r
O gilvy , ch air m an o f th e N au tilu s C orp ora tio n. ”
I in sta n tly f elt a ch ill g o u p m y s pine .
I h ad n ea rly d ie d b eca use o f W alt e r O gilv y.
H e w as J.J . M cC ra ck en ’s m ajo r bu sine ss riv al.  e tw o m en lo ath ed e a ch
o th er.  ey w ere co nsta n tly t r y in g t o o ne -u p e a ch o th er, batt li ng f o r co ntro l o f
th e m ark etp la ce in s e v era l d iff ere nt a re na s.  e d iff ere nce w as, O gilv y h ad no
m ora ls a t a ll. J .J. w asn ’t e xa ctl y a saint , bu t ne xt t o O gilv y, h e s eem ed lik e o ne .
For exa mple , Ogilvy had been beh ind sa b ota g ing th e sh ark ta nk at
F un Ju n gle . H e h ad a lw ay s cl aim ed J .J . had s to le n th e id ea fo r F unJ ung le fr o m
h im ; he’d p la n ned t o b u ild a r iv al p ark ca lle d Z ooT op ia t h at h ad ne ver g o tte n
o ff th e g ro u n d. N ow h e w as d ete rm in ed t o r uin F unJ ung le ’s s ucce ss. H e’d h ir e d
a th ug n am ed H an k D un tz to co lla p se th e p ed estr ia n tu be th at w ent th ro u gh
th e s h ark t a n k a n d m ak e i t lo ok li k e a n acci dent . U nf ortu na te ly , I’d be en ins id e
th e tu be w hen it co lla p se d — alo n g w it h M arg e O ’M alle y a n d a p oli ce o ffi ce r
nam ed B ubba S ta ck hou se .
O gilvy h ad n ev er a d m it te d to th e s a b ota g e, of co urse . In th e m ont hs s ince
t h e sh ark ta n k in cid en t, he a n d J.J . had b een su ing a nd co unt er-s u ing e a ch
o th er. E ach h ad a h uge s ta b le o f la w yers t o s ic on th e o th er, an d e v ery t im e o ne
go t so m e tr a ctio n, th e o th er w ou ld b it e b ack . Even th ou gh H an k D uns t h ad
n am ed O gilvy as th e m an w ho’d h ir e d h im , th at h ad b een re je ct ed b y th e
co urts b eca use th ey fe lt H an k h ad b een un der d u re ss w hen he co nfesse d . (W e
had lo ck ed h im in a ro om w it h a n ang ry , poop -th ro w ing ch im panz ee to g et
h im to ad m it th e tr u th .) Sin ce th en, Hank had n’t sa id an oth er w ord to

im pli ca te O gilvy , w hich b oth m y p are nt s s u sp ect ed m ea n t H an k h ad be en paid
o ff b y O gilvy to take th e f all f or h im .
And yet, here w as th e natio na l ne ws, inv it ing O gilv y to ta lk abo ut
F un Ju n gle . O gilvy w asn ’t a p pea rin g o n th e p ro gra m in perso n: He w as s im ply
p h on in g in w hile th ey d is p la y ed a p h oto o f h im . H e d id n’t lo ok p articu la rly
e vil . H e w as in h is s e v en tie s b u t lo oked m uch y o u ng er. (S u m mer cl aim ed t h is
w as d u e t o m illi o n s o f d olla rs’ w orth o f p la stic su rg ery .) H e h ad s ilv er h air a nd
w ore t h e s a m e k in d o f fa n cy su it s th at P ete  wack er d id . Even th ou gh M om
h ate d th e m an , s he s till a dm it te d h e w as h and so m e.
“ I ca n’t b eli e v e th ey ’r e le ttin g th at sk u nk o n th e air to ta lk ab ou t th is !”
S u m mer e x cl aim ed . “H e d oesn ’t k no w a ny th ing a b ou t p and as! H e’s ju st g o ing
t o b ad -m ou th m y f ath er.”
I s hush ed h er, w an tin g to hea r w hat O gilv y h ad t o s ay.
“ M r. O gilvy , yo u o n ce co nsid ere d o p eni ng a th em e p ark v ery m uch li k e
F un Ju n gle ,” H ea th er S m it h b eg an, “b u t y o u u lt im ate ly ch ose no t to , cl aim ing
t h e ris ks w ere to o g re a t. . . . ”
“ at’s e xa ctl y r ig h t,” O gilvy s a id be fo re H ea th er co uld e v en ask a q u estio n.
“A nd sa d ly , J.J . M cC ra ck en is o p era ting F unJ ung le in a w ay th at am pli � es
th ose ris k s ev en m ore . H e k eep s tr y ing to ru n th at zo o li k e it ’s any o th er
b u sin ess. But it ’s n ot li k e an y o th er b u sine ss, beca use in a zo o, w hat y o u’r e
s e lli n g i s a li v e. W hen m y f o od d ivi sio n se lls a d eli ci ou s ce re a l li k e F ro otie P uff s,
I d on’t h av e to w orr y th at th e F ro otie P uff s are go ing to esca pe fr o m th e
su perm ark et a n d m aim s o m e in noce nt s h op per. B ut t h at’s no t t h e ca se w it h a n
a n im al.”
“ A re y ou im ply in g th at L i P in g e sca ped ?” H ea th er S m it h a sk ed .
“I d on’t k n ow w hat h ap pen ed t o L i P ing ,” O gilv y r e p li e d . “E xce pt t h at s h e’s
g o n e. And th e b la m e fo r th at sh ou ld be p la ce d sq u are ly o n J.J . M cC ra ck en.
 is is m ere ly th e la te st in a str in g o f se rio u s m is h ap s a t F unJ ung le , w hich is
e vid en ce th at th is b u sin ess is a re ci pe fo r d is a ste r. Fra n kly , I th ink it ’s o n ly a
m atte r o f tim e b efo re a to u rist g ets h urt a t F un Ju n gle , ra th er th an a pan da.”
“ C ra m it , yo u b ig je rk !” S u m mer s h ou te d , th en sp u n to w ard u s. “S ee? H e’s
a tta ck in g D ad dy, exa ctl y li k e I s a id h e w ou ld . A nd t h e a n ch or is ju st le tting it
h ap pen . Sh e d oesn ’t ca re a b ou t L i P ing ! S h e’s o nl y stir ring u p tr o u bl e to g et
b ette r ra tin gs.”

Lyn da to ok a b re a k fr o m a n sw ering ca lls a n d m ute d th e p ro gra m . “M ay be
yo u s h ou ld n’t b e w atch in g t h is ,” s h e s a id , alt h ou gh s h e lo oked e q u ally a s a ng ry
a t O gilvy as S um mer d id .
Sin ce Lyn da a ctu ally h ad a m om ent to t alk , I took a dvant ag e o f i t. I point ed
to J uan a nd a sk ed , “ W hat’s g oin g o n w it h h im ?”
“  at w om an fr o m th e F B I w an ts to in te rvie w h im .”  e to ne in Lynd a’s
v o ice in dica te d sh e d id n’t li k e M olly O ’M alle y o ne bi t. “S h e sa id h e co uld n’t
l e a v e t h e p re m is e s u n til s h e’d t a k en his t e stim ony . O nly, sh e’s b een grilli ng t h e
oth er d riv er fo r o ver a n h ou r. A nd p oor Ju an here ’s p lu m b tu ck ere d o u t a ft e r
th at d riv e. H e d ra n k th re e cu ps o f co ffee a nd s till no dded o ff.”
S u re e n ou gh , w hen I li s te n ed , I co uld h ea r th e v o ice s o f M olly O ’M alle y
a n d G re g Je ff erso n co min g fr o m th e co nfere nce r o om . “M olly d id n’t q u estio n
M arg e?” I a sk ed .
“S h e’s g o in g to ,” L yn da re p li e d . “S h e to ld h er no t to le a v e th e p ark u nt il
t h en . Lord h av e m ercy , ca n y o u b eli e v e th ose tw o are sis te rs?  ey lo ok as
m uch ali k e a s a p ea a nd a p ood le .”
“  ey ’r e b oth a w fu lly stu bborn ,” S u m mer sa id . Sh e h ad ca lm ed d ow n and
n ow t u rn ed h er a tte n tio n t o w hy w e’d co me t h ere in th e � rst p la ce : � nd ing o u t
w hat M olly O ’M alle y w as u p to . Sh e p oint ed inno cent ly to th e r o om ne xt to
th e co nfe re n ce room and a sk ed L ynd a, “ Is a nyo ne using that? T ed dy a nd I h av e
a s ch ool p ro je ct w e n eed to �nis h b y t om orro w .”
L yn da’s e yes n arro w ed , b etr a y in g t h e t ini est bi t o f s usp ici on. “ Abo ut w hat? ”
“  e B attle o f th e B ulg e,” S u m m er sa id w it h ou t bl ink ing a n ey e. “W e’r e
s tu dyin g W orld W ar T wo in America n H is to ry .”
S h e so ld th e li e so w ell, an y dou bt s Lynd a m ig h t hav e had vani sh ed
in sta n tly . “Y o u r f a th er h as s o m e m od els o f t h e a m use m ent p ark s e t u p in th ere ,
b u t I th in k if you’r e ca re fu l w it h t hem , h e w on’t m ind you u sing that r oom .”
“  an ks,” S um mer s aid .
W e w ere h ea d in g fo r th e ro om w hen we h ea rd v o ice s co ming fr o m J.J .’s
o ffi ce . I co uld re co gn iz e J.J . ea sily , th ou gh th e o th er v o ice w as u nf am ili a r to
m e. W hoev er w as sp ea k in g w as a w om an w it h a n e x tr e m ely str o ng S o u th ern
a cce nt.
S u m mer p au se d , s o I d id th e s am e t hing .

Lyn da q u ick ly cl ose d th e w in dow o n her co mpu te r scr een d is p la y in g th e
in te rvie w w it h W alt e r O gilvy , as th ou gh sh e d id n’t w an t J.J . to ca tch h er
w atch in g it.
A se co nd la te r, J.J . exite d h is o ffi ce .  e w om an w it h th e S o u th ern acce nt
tu rn ed o u t to b e C hin ese . Sh e w as o nl y a b ou t J .J .’s h eig h t, w hich w as s h orte r
th an S u m mer, alt h ou gh s h e w as w ea ring � ve-inch h eels , so s h e to w ere d a bo ve
h im . Sh e h ad a lo t o f m ak eu p p anca ked o n her fa ce , an d sh e w ore a bu sine ss
su it th at l ooked lik e it co st a few thou sa nd dolla rs.
F ou r o th er C hin ese p eo p le w ere w it h t hem , t wo m en a nd t w o w om en.  ey
w ere a ll o ld er a n d w iz e n ed a n d w ore tr a d it io na l C hine se cl oth ing : re d ja ck ets
fo r th e m en a n d lo n g re d d re sse s fo r th e w om en, all g aily e m br oid ere d w it h
� ow ers a nd b ir d s.
“ I k n ow it ’s a g re a t d ea l o f m on ey,” th e w om an w as te lli ng J .J . “B ut I a ls o
k n ow y o u h av e in su ra n ce f o r e xa ctly t h is s o rt o f s ce na rio . So y o u w on’t e a t t h e
co st a nyh ow .”
“ F or t h e la st t im e, E m ily ,” J .J . re pl ie d . “ is is o u t o f m y h and s.  e F B I is
on t h e ca se , an d t h ey ’r e t e lli n g m e no t t o p ay t h e r a n so m .  at’s f e d era l p oli cy
f o r d ea li n g w it h th ese th in gs. If I p ay it , it o nl y enco ura g es sim ila r cr im es
d ow n th e l in e.”
“  is is n ’t a crim e ag ain st an A m erica n ci tiz e n, ” E m ily w arne d h im . “L i
Pin g is C hin ese . Yo u h av e a lo t o f b u sine ss int ere sts in China , J.J . If y o u d on’t
w an t a n y t r o u ble w it h t h em , th en I s u ggest y o u d o w hate v er i t t a k es t o g et t h at
p an da b ack .”
J .J . lo oked extr em ely co nce rn ed by th is sta te m ent , bu t th en notice d
Su m mer a n d m e. H e q u ick ly b ro ke int o a b ig s m ile , pu tting o n an act . “H ey
k id s, th is is E m ily S u n . Sh e w ork s fo r th e C hine se C ons ula te in Hou sto n.
E m ily , th is is m y d au gh te r, S um mer, a nd h er g ood f rie nd  eo d ore F it z ro y.”
“ It’s a p le a su re to m eet b oth o f y o u ,” E m ily sa id sw eetly , as th ou gh sh e
had n’t b een th re a te n in g J .J. a few seco nd s b efo re .
“ N ice to meet y ou , to o,” I said .
Su m mer sa id so m eth in g a lo n g th e sa m e li ne s, th ou gh sh e d id n’t se em to
m ea n it.
 e o th er fo u r C hin ese p eo p le b ow ed to u s p oli t e ly . I g o t th e im pre ssio n
th at n on e o f th em spoke E ngli s h .

“I’l l b et y ou’r e w on derin g a bou t m y a cce nt,” E mily s aid . “ Every o ne does.”
“ I’m g u essin g y o u g re w u p a ro u n d h ere ,” I s a id . “Y o u r d ra w l is r e a lly s im ila r
to h is .”
E m ily lo oked im pre sse d . “ at’s e x act ly r ig h t. M y p are nt s im mig ra te d h ere
ju st b efo re I w as b orn . I w as ra is e d in San A nto ni o. In fa ct , I’v e ne ver e v en
li v ed in Chin a.”
“ A nd C hin a s till l ets y ou r ep re se nt them ?” S um mer a sk ed .
E m ily la u gh ed . “I s till h av e C hin ese ci tiz e ns hip . A lt h ou gh t h at’s n ot e v en a
re q u ir e m en t f or m y j ob.”
“ S p ea k in g o f y o u r jo b, I k n ow y o u h av e a v ery bu sy sch ed u le to d ay,” J.J .
sa id , nice an d fr ie n dly , alt h ou gh it se em ed li k e h e w as tr y ing to g et rid o f
E m ily a s fa st a s h e co uld . “I g re a tly a p pre ci ate y o u m ak ing th e tim e to sto p
b y. . . . ”
“C an t h e s n ak e o il,” E m ily t o ld h im , dro p ping t h e f r ie nd ly a ct . “A nd g et L i
Pin g b ack .” W it h th at, sh e sp u n on her stile tto h eels an d m arch ed to th e
ele v ato r.
 e o th er f ou r C hin ese p eo p le b ow ed t o u s o nce again, t hen f ollo w ed h er.
 e m om en t E m ily ’s b ack w as tu rne d, J.J . sa g ged . H e lo oked a s e x h au ste d
a s J uan d id .  e e ven ts o f th e d ay s eem ed t o h av e t ak en a lot o ut o f h im .
“S h e ca me all th e w ay fr o m H ou sto n ju st to rid e yo u ab ou t L i P ing ?”
S u m mer a sk ed .
“N o,” J.J . sa id . “S h e w as a lr e a d y h ere . For th e sa nct i� ca tio n cere m ony fo r
P an da P ala ce .”
“ O h,” S um mer s aid , l ik e s he u ndersto od .
I d id n’t , th ou gh . “ W hat s an cti� catio n ce re m ony ?”
“  e C hin ese ta k e th eir pan das very se rio u sly ,” J.J . ex p la ine d. “W e’r e
co ntr a ctu ally b ou n d to d o a ll so rts o f ce re m oni al th ing s. Lik e, if w e h av e a
p an da cu b b orn , w e h av e t o w ait a h un dre d d ay s t o n am e i t i n acco rd ance w it h
C hin ese tr a d it io n .  at w hole g an g is sta y ing a t th e F unJ ung le S afa ri L od ge.
 ey w ere g oin g to san ctif y th e p ala ce for L i P ing ’s a rriv al t od ay  . . . ”
“O nly , L i P in g d id n’t a rriv e,” S um mer � ni sh ed .
“E xa ctl y.” J .J . sig h ed , th en n otice d L ynd a s ig na li ng to h im . Sh e p oint ed to
th e p h on e, in dica tin g h e h ad m any ca lls t o m ak e. J.J . tu rne d ba ck t o S u m mer.
“ S o rr y , sw eeth ea rt, bu t I d on’t h av e tim e to ch at r ig h t no w. W ord o f L i P ing ’s

dis a p pea ra n ce g o t o u t a n d I’m sw am ped u p to m y e y eba lls . In fa ct , th ere ’s a
g o od ch an ce I’m gon na b e w ork ing str a ig h t t hro u gh d inne r t oni gh t.”
“ I � gu re d a s m uch ,” S u m mer s a id . “T ed dy a nd I o nl y ca me u p h ere to g et
so m e sch oolw ork d on e. W e w ere lo oking fo r a li t tle qu ie t an d so m e air -
co ndit io n in g.”
“ I to ld th em th ey co uld u se th e s m all o ffi ce ,” L ynd a s aid .
“G re a t,” J .J . ag re ed , th ou gh h e s e em ed d is tr a ct ed , li k e h is m ind w as a lr e a d y
a h un dre d o th er p la ce s. “Ju st b e ca re fu l w it h a ll th e stu ff in th ere , okay ?” H e
th en a sk ed L yn da, “ W hat’s g oin g o n w it h t he f ed s?”
“ I h av en ’t h ea rd a p eep o u t o f th em in over an h ou r,” L ynd a re p orte d .
“ ey ’r e s till in th ere w it h th e o th er d riv er.”
J .J . lo oked a t Ju an , w ho h ad re m aine d so u nd a sle ep o n th e co uch d esp it e
e v ery th in g th at h ad h ap pen ed . J.J . lo oked env io u s o f th e m an . “C all H arr y
B ou dre a u x f ro m m y in su ra n ce co mpany ,” h e t old L ynd a. “ I d on’t ca re w here h e
is o r w ho h e’s m eetin g w it h . I ne ed to ta lk to h im now .”  en h e w en t b ack
in to h is o ffi ce and s hut th e d oor.
S u m mer lo oked a ft e r h im fo r a m om ent , th en whis p ere d to m e, “C ’m on .
L et’s � n d th at p an da fa st so D ad dy d oesn ’t h av e to d ea l w it h th is a ny more .”
S h e p urp ose fu lly s tr o d e in to th e s m all o ffi ce .
I ta ile d a ft e r h er a nd s hut th e d oor be hind us.
 e sm all o ffi ce w asn ’t re a lly th at sm all; it w as m ere ly d w arfe d b y J.J .’s
e n orm ou s o ffi ce n ext door. At th e m om ent , it w as b eing u se d to p la n th e
n ew est se ctio n of Fun Ju n gle , th e W ild s. W hile th e re st of th e park w as
d esig n ed a s a z o o w it h a fe w s o m ew hat e d u ca tio na l th rill r id es, th e W ild s w as
g o in g to b e a n u n ab ash ed a m use m ent p ark . B lu ep rint s a nd s ca le m od els w ere
s ca tte re d a b ou t a ta b le in th e ce nte r.  ere w as a riv er-r a ft ing a d vent ure th at
w ou ld se n d g u ests th ro u gh m an m ad e ra p id s; a te rrif y ing -lo oking rid e ca lle d
C on dor S tr ik e t h at w ou ld s im ply li f t g u ests t w ent y s to rie s i nt o t h e a ir a nd t h en
d ro p th em ; an d th e B la ck M am ba, a bi g, ela b ora te ro lle r co aste r th at lo oked
li k e it w as b ein g ea te n b y a g ia nt sn ak e. ( e � rst h ill se nt g u ests int o th e
cr ea tu re ’s m ou th a nd th en th ey ’d ca re en t hro u gh t he d ark n ess i n i ts be lly .)
C on str u ctio n o f th e W ild s w as a lr e a d y u nd erw ay ; J.J . w ant ed to h av e th e
rid es o p en a s so on a s p ossib le .  ro u gh th e w ind ow , I co uld se e a ll th e w ay
a cr oss th e p ark to it s lo ca tio n : a la rg e b ro w n sca r o n th e e a rth w here a ll th e

tr e es h ad b een scra ped o ff . (M y fa m ily ’s tr a ile r—a s w ell a s th ose o f e v ery o ne
els e in F un Ju n gle em plo yee h ou sing —h ad be en re m oved fr o m th is are a as
w ell.) B ulld oze rs, ce men t tr u ck s, and oth er co nstr u ct io n veh icl es tr u nd le d
a cr oss it w hile tw o cra nes m an eu vere d lo ad s o f sto ne a n d ir o n aro u nd .  e
ste el fr a m e o f th e B la ck M am ba ju tt e d int o th e air , and th ere w as a w id e,
sn ak in g, ce men t- li n ed g ou ge f or th e R ag ing Raft R id e.
S u m mer sig n ale d m e to b e q u ie t w it h a � ng er to h er li p s, th en le a ne d
ag ain st t h e o ffi ce w all. I f o llo w ed h er le a d , and h er p la n ins ta n tly be came cl ea r:
W e co uld h ea r M olly g rilli n g G re g , th e tr u ck d riv er, in th e co nfere nce ro om
n ext d oor.
“ S o y ou d ro ve th e � rst s hif t f ro m San D ie g o ,” M olly w as s ay ing , “th en m ad e
a p it sto p in L as C ru ce s a ro u n d m id ni gh t, aft e r w hich Ju an to ok th e se co nd
sh if t .”
“  at’s co rre ct, ” G re g re p li e d . “H e sle p t w hile I d ro ve a n d I sle p t w hile h e
dro ve.”
“ A nd th e o nly tim e y ou s to p ped o n t hat e nt ir e d riv e w as i n L as C ru ce s?”
“ Ju st li k e I’v e sa id a d oze n tim es.” G re g so u nd ed e x tr e m ely a nno yed . “W e
were h un gry a n d w e a ll h ad t o p ee. So w e p u lle d in at a t r u ck s to p t o g et s o m e
fo od a nd d o o ur b usin ess. . . . ”
“D oc D ea k in in cluded ?”
“ Y ea h , h e g ot o ut th ere to o.”
“ S o y ou a ll l eft th e p an da a lo n e?”
“ N o. I k ep t a n e y e o n th e tr u ck w hile e v ery o ne e ls e w ent ins id e, and th en
w hen J uan ca me b ack fro m th e j oh n, I went in. ”
“S o , if an yo n e h ad ap pro ach ed th e tr u ck d u ring th at tim e  .  . . ,” M olly
b eg an .
“W e w ou ld h av e se en th em ,” G re g � ni sh ed . “N oth ing h ap pene d to th e
pan da w hile w e w ere th ere , I sw ea r. S he w as s till i n t he t ru ck w hen w e l eft .”
“ Y o u k now th at f or s ure ?”
“A bso lu te ly . I lock ed h er a nd D oc ba ck ins id e m yse lf .”
“ A nd a ft e r th at, y ou a ll d ro ve s tr a ig h t h ere ?” M olly s ou nd ed s kep tica l.
“ W hy is th at s o h ard to beli e v e?” G re g a sk ed .
“B eca use th e id ea o f so m eo n e sw ip ing a g ia n t p an da a n d a h um an being
f r o m a m ovin g tr u ck wit h ou t an yo ne on th at tr u ck notici ng so u nd s

im possib le .”
“ W ell, it o bvio usly is n’t im possib le , be cause i t h ap pene d.”
“ H ow ?” M olly d em an ded .
“ ey ’d n eed to r ig u p a n oth er v eh icl e to m ak e th e a tt a ck , bu t it co uld be
d on e,” G re g exp la in ed . “O ne p erso n wou ld d riv e it w hile a te a m o f o th er
p eo p le w ou ld a tta ck our tr uck fro m it.”
“ Y o u m ea n , l ik e s om e s ort o f M ad M ax k ind of t hing ?”
“ S o m eth in g li k e t h at.  ey ’d n eed a p la tfo rm b u ilt o u t o nt o t h e h ood o f t h e
atta ck veh icl e so th at th e k id n ap pers co uld sta n d o n it .  e d riv er o f th at
v eh icl e w ou ld p u ll u p cl ose b eh ind o u r t r u ck .  en, so m eo ne o n th e p la tfo rm
w ou ld b lo w t h e lo ck o n t h e r e a r d oors. O nce t h ose w ere o p en , th e a tta ck t e a m
co uld e n te r th e tr u ck b y le a p in g int o it fr o m th e p la tfo rm .  ey g ra b th e v et
a n d t h e p an da a n d u n lo ad t h em ba ck o nt o t h e a tt a ck v eh icl e, w hich t h en veers
o ff a nd ta kes th em aw ay.”
“ A nd th is is a ll d on e w hile b oth v eh icl es a re tr a v eli ng a t se v ent y-� ve m ile s
a n h ou r?” M olly d id n’t s ou n d co nvince d.
“I s aid it w as p ossib le ,” G re g r ep li e d . “ I d id n’t s ay i t w ou ld be easy .”
 ere w as a lon g p au se . I t s eem ed M olly w as m ulli ng all t his o ver.
I ste p ped to th e w in dow a n d lo o ked o u ts id e.  e p an da tr u ck w as p ark ed
a lm ost d ir e ctl y b elo w u s. It h ad be en moved fr o m th e vete rina ry h osp it a l
lo ad in g d ock to th e e xte rio r fe n ce o f th e p ark . Fro m m y a n gle , I co uld n’t se e
m uch of it e xce pt f or th e g ra y r oof.
A n F B I m ob ile crim e u n it w as n ow p ark ed n ex t to it . I co uld te ll th is
b eca use it h ad “ F B I M ob ile C rim e U nit ” p ain te d o n th e ro of. O bvio u sly , it
w asn ’t d esig n ed to be a co vert v eh icl e.
S u m mer w av ed m e b ack to th e w all. M olly h ad r esu m ed h er q uestio ni ng .
“S o , le t’s s a y t h is a m azin gly a cr ob atic hig h -s p eed a ssa u lt a ct ually h ap pene d,”
s h e sa id , n ot b oth erin g to h id e th e d is d ain in her v o ice . “Y o u re a lly th ink it
co uld a ll b e d on e w it h ou t a le rtin g t he p eo p le i n t he ca b o f t he p and a t ru ck ?”
“ I k n ow it co uld ,” G re g s a id . “B eca use n one o f u s w ere a le rte d . I d id n’t w ak e
u p, a nd n eit h er J uan n or y ou r s is te r h ea rd a ny th ing .”
“ M y s is te r is n’t e xa ctl y a to p-n otch law o ffi ce r,” M olly s aid .
“ at’s n ot w hat s h e t o ld u s,” G re g co unt ere d . “S h e s a id s h e w as s o m e k ind
o f e li t e z oo l aw -e n fo rce men t co mm an do.”

“D id s he r ea lly ?” M olly s ou n ded a m use d .
“ at’s rig h t. Sh e sa id sh e w as o n ly p re te nd ing to be a se cu rit y g u ard , bu t
th at sh e actu ally w ork ed fo r th e Fed era l Anim al Pro te ct io n Serv ice or
so m eth in g li k e t h at. Sh e s a id s h e w as li k e J a m es B ond a nd J a so n Bou rne r o lle d
in to o ne.”
 ere w as a n ois e I co uld n’t q u it e re co gni ze in th e co nfere nce ro om . It
m ig h t h av e b een M olly O ’M alle y l au gh ing .
“M y s is te r w as b lo w in g s m oke,” s h e s a id . “S h e is no t a n eli t e a ny th ing . Sh e
is a secu rit y g uard , a nd n ot e ven a v ery g ood o ne . M ea n w hile , y ou r bu ddy J uan
o u t th ere h as b een d rivin g a tr u ck fo r six te en yea rs. Yo u’d th ink h e’d h av e
n otice d if s o m eo n e w as m ak in g a f u ll- s ca le a ssa u lt o n his t r u ck w hile h e w as a t
th e w heel.”
“ N ot if w hoev er a tta ck ed it d id it r ig h t.”
“ O r m ay b e J uan n otice d a nd s im ply d id n’t s ay a nyth ing .”
W hen G re g sp oke ag ain , he so u nd ed ev en ang rie r th an b efo re . “A re y o u
accu sin g J uan o f b ein g p art o f th is ?”
“ It m ak es s e n se ,” M olly r e p li e d . “If h e w as in ca hoots w it h t h e p erp etr a to rs,
h e co uld le t th em k n ow w hen y o u w ere asle ep , m ay be ev en slo w th e tr u ck
dow n to aid th eir a tta ck . . . . ”
“Ju an w ou ld n ev er d o th at. H e’s n ot a cr im ina l.”
“ Y o u d on’t k now th at f or s ure .”
“ G o g et m e a B ib le a n d I ’l l s w ea r o n it . I’v e k n ow n h im fo r te n yea rs, and
th e g uy’s a s h on est a s th ey co me. H e’s n ev er e ven r un a sto p s ig n. ”
“E very o n e h as th eir tip pin g p oin t. A p ie ce o f te n milli o n dolla rs is a bi g
in ce ntiv e.”
“ N ot f or J uan .”
“ Y o u re a lly e xp ec t m e to b eli e v e a m an wit h th at m uch d riv ing e x p erie nce
w ou ld n’t n otice an a tta ck lik e th is ?”
“ I d on’t k n ow w hat y o u t h in k d riv ing a b ig r ig is li k e,” G re g g ro w le d , “bu t
it ’s a w hole d iff ere n t b allg am e t h an driv ing a ca r. A t r u ck is b ig a n d lo u d a nd it
t a k es co nce ntr a tio n . A lo t o f co nce nt ra tio n. We’r e n ot ju st s it ting in th at ca b,
p la y in g t r a v el b in go a n d s in gin g s h ow t u ne s li k e t h is is s o m e h oli d ay r o ad t r ip .
W e h av e t o b e f o cu se d a t a ll t im es. A nd it ’s t e n tim es w orse a t ni gh t, esp eci ally
o u t o n t h ose h ig h w ay s w here it ’s p it ch -b la ck a nd t h ere ’s no li g h t e x ce pt f o r o u r

hea d la m ps. If so m e id io t cu ts u s o ff o r a d eer r u ns in fr o nt o f u s, w e’v e g o t a
sp li t s e co nd t o r e sp on d o r e ls e t h at t r u ck e nd s u p ja ck kn if e d a cr oss t h e f r e e w ay.
P lu s, th ere ca n b e s om e n asty w in d s hea r o n t hat s tr e tch of I -1 0. A big g ust ca n
co me o u t o f n ow here , an d if y o u’r e n ot re a d y fo r it , th e tr u ck g o es o ver a nd
y o u r p re cio us p an da e n ds u p sp la tt e re d a ll o ver th e fa st la n e. So Ju an wou ld
h av e h ad p le n ty o n h is m in d d u ring th at d riv e. Yo u r sis te r w as th e o ne w ho
w as su ppose d to b e o n th e ale rt fo r an y tr o u bl e. So if yo u w ant to sta rt
p oin tin g � ngers a t p eo p le , m ay b e y ou o ugh t t o s ta rt w it h h er.”
 ere w as a n oth er p au se . W hen M olly s p oke a g ain, sh e d id n’t s o u nd ne arly
a s a n ta g o n is tic as sh e h ad b efo re . “Ju st so y o u k n ow , I ru n a tig h t sh ip h ere .
M arjo rie h asn ’t e sca ped s usp icio n be cause s he’s m y s is te r.”
“ I’l l b et,” G re g s co ffed .
“I a ss u re y o u , if I � n d t h at m y s is te r is co mpli ci t in all t h is , I w ill t r e a t h er
li k e a n y o th er crim in al. I w ill a rre st h er a nd p ro se cu te h er t o t h e fu ll e x te nt o f
th e l aw .”
A p h on e ra n g, in te rr u ptin g th e co nv ersa tio n. We h ea rd M olly ans wer it .
“ A gen t O ’M alle y s p ea k in g.  . . . W here ? .  . . O kay, I’l l b e r ig h t t h ere .” S h e h ung
up, th en s a id , “M r. Je ff erso n , I n eed t o g o . A gent C hen here w ill co ntinu e y o u r
qu estio n in g.”
“ W e’r e n ot d on e?” G re g g ro an ed . “H ow m any m ore q u estio ns c o u ld y o u
p ossib ly h av e? H ow m uch lon ger i s t his g oing to g o o n? ”
M olly d id n’t a nsw er h im . I nste a d , w e h ea rd h er g ath ering her t hing s.
S u m mer b olt e d o ut th e d oor o f th e s m all o ffi ce . I follo w ed h er l ea d .
Su m mer q u ick ly s a t in t h e w ait ing a re a o u ts id e J .J .’s o ffi ce , act ing li k e s h e’d
b een th ere a ll a lo n g, a nd m otio n ed f or m e t o d o t he s am e.
I sa t, an d a se co nd la te r, M olly e x it e d th e co nfere nce ro om . B eh ind h er, I
sa w A gen t C hen , on e o f t h e m en w ho h ad b een on th e h eli co pte r w it h h er t h at
m orn in g, se a te d at th e ta b le acr oss fr o m G re g . I re a li z e d I h ad y et to h ea r
A gen t C hen s ay a sin gle w ord .
M olly g la n ce d a t S um mer a nd m e s usp ici ou sly , t hen l et i t g o a nd t urne d h er
a tte n tio n to Lyn da. “ I n eed to see J .J. r ig h t no w,” s he a nno unce d.
“M r. M cCra ck en is on a v ery im porta n t p hone ca ll,” L ynd a i nf orm ed h er.
“ In te rr u pt it, ” M olly to ld h er. “ We f ou nd his v ete rina ria n .”

DO C
“W here w as h e?” J .J . a sk ed , ta ili n g M olly th ro u gh th e lo b by o f th e
ad m in is tr a tio n b uild in g.
“Y o u r o wn p ark in g l ot,” M olly r ep li e d . “  e Z oe Z ebr a s ect io n. ”
“Z eld a,” S um mer co rre cte d. W e w ere f ollo w ing the a du lt s .
M olly l ooked a t S um mer, co nfu se d . “ W hat? ”
“  e ch ara cte r’s n am e is Z eld a Z ebr a,” S u m mer e x p la ine d. “A ll t h e s e ct io ns
o f t h e p ark in g lo t a re n am ed in a lp h abe tica l o rd er s o t h e g u ests ca n re m em be r
where t h ey p ark ed . Z eld a Z eb ra is t h e f a rth est f r o m t h e f r o nt g ate s, be cause it ’s
Z . ”
“ I th ou gh t I m ad e it cl ea r I d id n’t w ant yo u k id s h ang ing aro u nd th is
in vestig atio n ,” M olly s aid .
“ is is n o tim e to g et te rrit o ria l,” J.J . to ld h er. “D oc’s a fr ie nd o f th eir s.
 ey d ese rv e to know w hat h ap pen ed t o h im .”
M olly lo o ked li k e s h e w an te d t o a rg u e t h is , th en deci ded n ot t o . “R ig h t. It
w as th e fa rth est se ctio n o f th e p ark ing lo t, aw ay fr o m th e cr ow ds. H e w as
d u m ped o n t h e e d ge o f t h e a sp h alt w it h a s a ck o ver h is h ea d a nd h is h and s t ie d
b eh in d h is b ack .” S h e p asse d th ro u gh th e fr o nt d oors o f th e bu ild ing , and w e
fo llo w ed h er o ut in to th e h ea t.
“ W here is he n ow ?” J .J. a sk ed .
“H oen ek ker is brin gin g him in .” M olly tu rne d to w ard th e vete rina ry
h osp it a l. “S o m e g u ests sa w h im a nd re p orte d it to y o u r se cu rit y d iv is io n. I’v e
b een t o ld t h at h e’s in g o od p h ysic a l co nd it io n. Hoene kker w ant ed t o t a k e h im

to yo u r m ed ica l cl in ic, bu t D oc ins is te d upon coming to th e vete rina ry
h osp it a l in ste a d .”
“ S o u n ds li k e D oc, all rig h t,” I sa id . D oc did n’t h av e m uch re sp ect fo r th e
docto rs w ho w ork ed a t th e F un Ju ng le h ea lt h cl ini c, claim ing bo th h ad ba re ly
g ra d u ate d fr o m m ed ica l sch ool. M y p are nt s a ct ually a g re ed w it h h im . W hen
m y m oth er h ad fr a ctu re d h er le g a fe w m ont hs be fo re , sh e’d g o ne to D oc to
h av e it se t, ra th er th an th e h um an doct or. “A bo ne’s a bo ne,” M om h ad
exp la in ed . “ If D oc ca n � x a gorilla ’s l eg , h e ca n � x m ine .”
A so u ped -u p g o lf ca rt sw erv ed a ro u nd a co rne r, ra ci ng to w ard th e a ni m al
h osp it a l. I co uld te ll M arg e w as d riv ing it e v en b efo re I sa w h er a t th e w hee l
b eca use M arg e w as t h e w orst d riv er I ’d e v er m et in my li f e . In ste a d o f co ming
in a str a ig h t li n e, th e ca rt w as v eering a ll o ver th e p la ce . As w e w atch ed , it
cl ip ped a tra sh ca n a nd s cra ped a gains t a lam ppost.
 e f r o n t s e a t w as b u ilt f o r t w o n orm al- s iz e p eo p le , bu t M arg e t o ok u p t h e
w hole th in g.  ere fo re , H oen ek ker a nd D oc both h ad to sit in th e ba ckse a t.
B oth w ere cl in gin g to th e s id es o f th e ca rt fo r d ea r li f e , desp era te ly tr y ing no t
to b e p it ch ed o ut o nto th e g ro u n d.
“ ey ’r e le ttin g m y s is te r d riv e?” M olly g asp ed . “S h e’l l k ill D oc befo re I g et
a ch an ce to questio n h im .”
A n a cto r d re sse d a s L arr y th e L iz a rd scr am ble d o u t o f th e g o lf ca rt’s w ay,
b are ly a vo id in g g ettin g tu rn ed in to r oad kill.
“ W atch w here y o u’r e g o in g!” M arg e y elle d , ev en th ou gh it h ad be en her
fa u lt . Sh e th en co mple te ly fo rg o t to w atch w here sh e w as g o ing h erse lf . Sh e
w as to o b u sy g iv in g L arr y th e stink -e y e to re a li z e sh e w as b ea ring r ig h t d ow n
on u s.
W e a ll s ca tte re d li k e a h erd o f w ild ebe est f a ci ng a li o n. Marg e w ove t h ro u gh
u s a nd p lo w ed rig ht in to a larg e s hru b o uts id e t he h osp it a l.
D oc sta g gere d o u t o f t h e b ack o f t h e g o lf ca rt, lo oking s h ak en. “I t h ink I ’d
h av e b een b ette r o ff if I’d s ta y ed w it h t he k id na ppers,” h e a nno unce d.
“It w as m y u n dersta n din g th at it w as im pera tiv e to g et y o u h ere a s fa st a s
p ossib le ,” M arg e s aid d efe n siv ely .
M olly s te p ped fo rw ard . “D r. D ea k in, my n am e is M olly O ’M alle y. I’m th e
F B I a gen t in ch arg e o f th is in vestig atio n . . . ”

“O ’M alle y ?” D oc r e p ea te d , th en lo oked fr o m M olly to M arg e, scr utini zing
t h em ca re fu lly . “ Yo u’r e r ela te d ?”
“ M arjo rie is m y y o u n ger s is te r,” M olly s a id q u ick ly , as if e m ba rr a sse d b y it .
D oc’s ja w d ro p ped in su rp ris e , bu t b efo re h e co uld sa y a ny th ing e ls e , M olly
t o ld h im , “I n eed to a sk y o u so m e q u estio ns a bo ut y o u r e x p erie nce s w it h th e
kid n ap pers. If yo u’l l acco mpan y m e, I hav e a ro om se t up in th e
ad m in is tr a tio n b uild in g.”
“ S o rr y , bu t I h av e a k in kajo u in d ir e ne ed o f bo wel s u rg ery a t t h e m om ent .”
D oc sid esli p ped M olly a n d h ea d ed fo r th e h osp it a l d oors. “A nd a ft e r th at, I
hav e a fu ll d ay o f o th er o p era tio n s.  ose k id na ppers re a lly m uck ed u p m y
sch ed u le .”
M olly sp u n a n d fo llo w ed h im . “D r. D ea k in, I’m n ot a sk ing y o u to co me
wit h m e. I ’m te lli n g y ou .”
“ A nd I’m te lli n g y o u I ca n’t d o it rig h t no w.  ere a re a n im als in se rio u s
n eed o f m y h elp .”
“  is is a f e d era l in vestig atio n ,” M olly s a id . “Y o u a re r e q u ir e d t o a ssis t in it .
I f y ou d is o b ey m e, I ca n f orce you t o co mply .”
D oc sto p ped an d tu rn ed back to fa ce her. “I alr e a d y to ld yo u r sis te r
e v ery th in g I k now . A sk h er.”
“ I’d p re fe r to hea r it f ro m you ,” M olly s aid .
“ ere ’s n ot m uch . I did n’t h ea r o r s ee a nyth ing .”
“ N oth in g a t a ll? ” M olly a sk ed , in cr ed u lo u s. “C om e no w, D oct or.  ey h eld
y o u f or a t l ea st tw elv e h ou rs.”
“ I w as asle ep fo r all of it ,” D oc sa id . “F ir st, th ey ch lo ro fo rm ed m e.
E ven tu ally , I w oke u p ly in g o n a � oor, w it h m y a rm s tie d a nd a bu rla p sa ck
o ver m y h ea d . I yelle d f or s om eo n e, bu t no one ca me, s o I w ent ba ck to s le ep .”
“ W hy?” M olly d em an ded .
“B eca use I w as t ir e d , I w as ly in g d ow n, and f r a n kly , th ere w asn ’t m uch e ls e I
co uld d o. A t s o m e p oin t, so m eo n e p u t m e in a ca r, an d t h e ne xt t h ing I k ne w,
I w as ly in g in th e p ark in g lo t h ere . N o o ne e v er sp oke to m e—o r e v en sp oke
n ea r m e. M y h ea d w as in t h e s a ck t h e w hole t im e, so I d id n’t s e e a t h ing .  ey
d id p in a n ote t o m y cl oth es, bu t H oene kker h as it .  at’s e v ery th ing I ca n te ll
y o u .”

I lo oked a t H oen ek ker, as d id M olly a n d e v ery o ne e ls e . H e h eld u p a cl ea r
p la stic evid en ce b ag w it h a s ta n dard le tte r e nv elo p e in it . It w as s till s e a le d , and
o n th e o uts id e w as ty ped : “ For J .J. M cCra ck en. ”
“ is w as on D oc when w e fo u nd h im ,” H oene kker sta te d . “I h av en ’t
o p en ed it y et.”
M olly s a id , “D r. D ea k in , it w ou ld b e in Li P ing ’s int ere sts if y o u g av e m e a
m ore f orm al in te rvie w.”
“ Y o u m ea n , sit i n a r o om f o r a n h ou r t e lli ng y o u t h at I d on’t k no w a ny th ing
e ls e ?” D oc ask ed . “W hoev er th ese g u ys w ere , th ey w ere e x tr e m ely ca re fu l. If
y o u’r e lo okin g fo r cl ues, I ca n’t giv e yo u an yth in g m ore th an th e one
H oen ek ker’s h old in g.” H e sta rte d fo r th e h osp it a l ag ain, bu t M olly ste p p ed
in to h is p ath .
“W e’r e n ot � nis h ed h ere y et,” s he i nf orm ed h im .
Doc’s ey es narro w ed an grily . “A gent O’M alle y, do yo u hav e th e
au th oriz a tio n to p re v en t a d octo r fr o m p erfo rm ing em erg ency su rg ery o n a
hum an b ein g?”
“ N o, b ut . . . ”
“W ell, I’m a b ou t to p erfo rm e m erg ency su rg ery m yse lf . If y o u re a lly th ink
it ’s t h at u rg en t t o t a lk t o m e a t t h is v ery m om ent , fe el fr e e t o s te rili z e y o u rse lf
a n d co me w atch m e re se ct th is bo wel. If n ot, th en get o u t o f m y w ay. An
an im al’s l if e is at s ta k e.”
M olly s te p ped a sid e, stu n ned . It a p pea re d s h e w asn ’t u se d to p eo p le s a y ing
n o to h er. Sh e h elp le ssly w atch ed D oc ent er th e h osp it a l, th en re tu rne d h er
a tte n tio n to H oen ek ker. “D o yo u hav e any inf orm atio n on th e ca r th at
d u m ped D oc h ere ?”
“ N o,” H oen ek ker re p li e d . “A s fa r a s w e k no w, no o ne sa w it . D oc sa y s h e
w as ly in g th ere fo r a g o od � ve m inu te s b efo re a n yo ne no tice d h im . By th at
p oin t, th e ca r w as l on g g on e.”
“ D o y ou h av e s ecu rit y ca mera s in the p ark ing lot? ” M olly a sk ed .
“L ots o f th em . I h av e m y p eo p le co mbing th ro u gh fo ota g e as w e sp ea k .
 ou gh th is w as o ut o n th e p erip h ery , s o I ca n’t g uara n te e m uch .”
M olly s aid , “ If y ou � nd a nyth in g, I w ant to s ee i t.”
“ O f co urse ,” H oen ek ker a gre ed .

“H ow ’d t h e g u ests h an dle � n din g a k id na pping v ict im in ou r p ark ing lo t? ”
J .J . a sk ed . “ Were th ey u pse t? D o I ne ed t o g et P ete  wack er o n t his ?”
“  e g u ests w ere q u it e ca lm a n d h elp fu l,” H oene kker r e p li e d . “I d on’t k no w
th at t h ey ’v e co nnecte d t h is t o F unJ ung le a t a ll, since it w as o n th e o u ts k ir ts o f
th e lo t. But b rin gin g P ete o n b oard to � ne sse th e sit u atio n is p ro ba bly still a
g o od id ea . I hav e th eir n am es a nd nu mbe rs.”
“ I’d li k e t o t a lk t o t h em m yse lf ,” M olly s a id .  en sh e p lu ck ed t h e e v id ence
b ag w it h th e le tt e r o u t o f H oene kker’s h an d. “I assu m e yo u h and le d th is
ca re fu lly ?”
“ N o,” H oen ek ker r e p li e d s a rca stic a lly . “I m ad e s u re I g o t m y � ng erp rint s a ll
o ver it.  en I spit o n it f or g ood m ea su re .”
“  ere ’s n o n eed f or th at to ne,” M olly t old h im .
“W e’r e n ot a m ate u rs h ere ,” H oen ek ker s h ot b ack . “I co uld h av e o p ene d t h at
m yse lf , bu t I ch ose t o e xte nd y o u p ro fe ssio na l co urte sy . I’d a p pre ci ate it if y o u
w ou ld d o th e s am e.”
M olly b ack ed d ow n. “ Poin t ta ken . I apolo giz e .”
“ W hat d o y ou th in k th at is ?” J .J. a sk ed . “ Anoth er r an so m no te ?”
“ I a ssu m e so ,” M olly sa id . “B ut I w ant to m ak e su re it ’s p ro p erly a na ly ze d
fo r e vid en ce � rst. O nce t h at’s d on e, I’l l co ntact y o u w it h m y � nd ing s. D on’t g o
to o fa r in th e m ea n tim e.” S h e h ea d ed to w ard w here th e F B I’s m ob ile crim e
un it w as p ark ed .
J.J . lo oked p eev ed a t t h e w ay s h e’d s p oken to h im . H e t u rne d t o M arg e a nd
sn ap ped , “ Get th at g olf ca rt o ut o f m y s hru bbe rie s.”
“ Y es s ir , M r. M cCra ck en .” M arg e s alu te d r esp ect fu lly .
J.J .’s p h on e r a n g. I ca ugh t a g li m pse o f t h e ca lle r I D : Lyn da f r o m h is o ffi ce .
J.J . a nsw ere d , s ay in g, “ Tell m e th is i s g ood ne ws.”
F ro m h is re a ctio n, it o b vio usly w asn ’t .  e co lo r d ra ine d fr o m h is ta nne d
fa ce so q u ick ly , it lo oked a s th ou gh h e’d be en blea ch ed .  en he sa id a fe w
w ord s th at w ou ld h av e g otte n m e d ete nt io n a t s ch ool.
“ W hat is it? ” S um mer a sk ed .
“ e p re m ie r o f C hin a w an ts t o t a lk ,” J .J . re p li e d s o u rly . “A nd h e’s m ad a s a
s tir re d -u p h orn et’s n est.” H e re tu rne d h is a tte nt io n to h is p h one a nd h urrie d
b ack in to th e ad m in is tr a tio n b u ild ing . “I’m co ming b ack to th e o ffi ce rig h t
n ow ,” h e to ld L yn da.

Hoen ek ker d ro p ped in b eh in d J.J ., fo llo w ing h im to w ard A dm ini str a tio n.
Su m mer a nd I d id th e s am e th in g.
O nly , befo re I co uld g o t w o s te p s, M arg e ca ugh t m y a rm . “N ot s o f a st,” s h e
to ld m e. “ Yo u a nd I h av e w ork to do.”

TH E S N EA K A TTA CK
M arg e’s p la n w as s im ple . “I w an t to k n ow w hat m y sis te r’s fo u nd
ou t so fa r,” sh e to ld m e. “S o w hile I d is tr a ct h er, yo u sn ea k int o th at m obi le
u n it a nd g et h er e vid en ce .”
I l ooked to Sum mer, w ho w as s till h an ging aro u nd . She s ti� ed a g ig gle .
“ Is n ’t sn ea k in g in to th e F B I’s tr u ck a n d ste a li n g th eir e vid en ce a g ains t th e
la w ?” I a sk ed .
“I d id n’t sa y st e a l it ,” M arg e q u ali � ed . “I sa id ‘g et it .’ L ik e ta k e p ict ure s o f
w hat th ey h av e o r s om eth in g l ik e t h at.”
“ It’s s till il le g al to ente r th eir tr uck ,” I told h er.
M arg e fr o w ned at m e. “Y o u k no w w hat els e is ille g al? S h op li f t ing .” S h e
tilt e d h er h ea d to ward S um mer, in case I d id n’t u nd ersta n d w hat s he m ea nt .
I g ot it, b ut S um mer d id n’t . “ W hat a re y ou t alk ing abou t? ” s he a sk ed .
“N oth in g,” M arg e s a id q u ick ly . “Ju st a li t tle co de T ed dy a nd I w ork ed o u t.
S o , T ed dy, a re y ou g oin g to help m e o r no t? ”
I l ooked to Sum mer a gain , h op ing she w ou ld e xp la in t o M arg e t hat t his w as
a te rrib le id ea . I nste a d , s he g rin ned e xci te d ly a nd s aid , “ I’l l h elp t oo!”
A ft e r t h at, I d id n’t r e a lly h av e m uch ch oice in th e m att e r. M arg e w ou ld u se
e vid en ce a g ain st S u m mer t o b la ck mail m e if I d id n’t p artici pate in her s ch em e
— an d Su m mer w an te d to partici pate in it an yh ow . M arg e bl ack maili ng
S u m mer w ou ld b e aw fu l— bu t g etting S u m mer an no yed at m e w ou ld n’t be
g re a t e it h er.  e b est I co uld d o w as tr y to e x p la in what w as w ro ng w it h th e

pla n in th e � rst p la ce . “I’m w illi ng to h elp , bu t th ere ’s a bi g p ro bl em w it h
b re a k in g in to th e m ob ile u nit , M arg e: Y ou r s is te r i s i ns id e i t r ig h t no w.”
“ S o w e’l l g et h er o ut o f th ere ,” M arg e s aid co n�dent ly .
“ W hat a b ou t a ll th e o th er F B I g u ys?” I p oin te d o u t. “A nd e v en if y o u ca n
lu re th em all o ut, d on’t y ou th in k t hey ’l l l ock the u ni t? ”
“ D on’t g et y o u r p an tie s in a w ad ,” M arg e ta u n te d . “I’v e g o t th is a ll � gu re d
o u t.” S h e sta rte d to sli n k d ow n th e a lle y to w ard th e m obi le u n it , co mple te ly
f o rg ettin g th at J .J. h ad o rd ere d h er t o g et h er g olf ca rt o ut o f t he s hru bs .
M arg e’s a tte m pt to b e ste a lt h y w as rid icu lo u s. Sh e w asn ’t e x act ly li g h t o n
h er fe et. It w as k in d o f li k e w atch ing a n e le p h ant tr y to tip to e. A t o ne p oint ,
sh e a ctu ally � atte n ed h erse lf u p a g ains t th e w all be hind a d ra inp ip e, as if sh e
co uld p ossib ly h id e h erse lf b eh in d s om eth ing tw o i nch es w id e.
S u m mer a nd I g am ely s lu n k a lo n g be hind her, d oing our be st no t t o l au gh .
E ven tu ally , we m ad e it to th e co rne r o f th e ad m ini str a tio n bu ild ing and
p eek ed a ro u n d it.
I h ad a m uch b ette r lo ok a t th e m obi le u n it n ow th an I ’d h ad fr o m se v en
sto rie s a b ove.  e w ord s “ F B I M ob ile C rim e U nit ” w ere p ain te d o n ea ch s id e,
a lo n g w it h se v era l im ag es o f th e F B I se a l, so m e A m erica n � ag s, an d o ne b ald
e a g le . A set o f d oors w as b uilt in to t he r ea r w it h s te p s co ming dow n.
M arg e p oin te d to u s, th en to th e tr u ck , th en mad e a se rie s o f co mpli ca te d
h an d g estu re s I d id n’t u ndersta n d. I t l ooked lik e s he w as h av ing an e pile p tic � t.
“ W hat a re y ou d oin g?” S um mer a sk ed .
“D on’t y ou tw o k now y ou r co mmand o h an d s ig na ls ?” M arg e w his p ere d .
“I d on’t th in k m ost p eo p le k n ow th ose ,” I sa id , w ond ering if M arg e e v en
k n ew th em herse lf .
M arg e s ig h ed , ap pare n tly a n noyed b y o u r la ck o f m ili t a ry t r a ini ng . “I w ant
y o u to g o o ver to th e m ob ile u ni t and wait u n dern ea th it ,” sh e exp la ine d.
“ en , w hen I lu re m y s is te r a n d t h e o th ers o u t, yo u s n ea k ins id e a nd s e e w hat
th ey ’v e f ou n d s o f ar.”
I s cr utin iz e d t h e m ob ile u n it w arily .  e bo dy o f it w as a f o ot a n d a h alf o ff
th e g ro u n d, which w ou ld g iv e S u m mer an d m e a d ece nt am ou nt o f ro om
b en ea th it , bu t t h at s till d id n’t m ea n I w ant ed t o g o t h ere . “W hat if t h ey d riv e
aw ay ? W e co uld g et � atte n ed u nder t here .”

“O h, re la x, ” M arg e ch id ed , as th ou gh m y co nce rn fo r m y o w n sa fe ty w as
so m eh ow u n re a so n ab le . “Y o u w on’t b e th ere lo ng . I’m g o nna lu re th em o u t
fa st.”
“ W hat if you ca n’t ? ” I p re sse d .
“O h, I’l l g et th em o u t,” M arg e sa id co n� dent ly . “I k no w m y sis te r. Sh e’l l
n ev er p ass u p th e ch an ce to be a h ero .”
I sta rte d to a sk h er w hat th is m ea n t, bu t S u m mer g ra b be d m y h and a nd
y an ked m e to w ard th e m ob ile u ni t. “C ’m on, ” sh e w his p ere d . “L et’s d o th is .”
E it h er sh e w asn ’t a s co nce rn ed fo r h er sa fe ty a s I w as, or sh e a ct ually tr u ste d
M arg e o n th is .
W e r e a ch ed t h e m ob ile u n it b u t p au se d b efo re g o ing u n derne ath it , hav ing
t h e sa m e id ea a t o n ce . W e p re sse d o u r e a rs a g ains t th e re a r d oors to se e if w e
co uld h ea r a nyth in g im porta n t h ap peni ng ins id e.
W e co uld n’t .  eir v oice s w ere m uffl ed t hro u gh t he t hick w alls .
B ack b y t h e a d m in is tr a tio n b u ild ing , M arg e m ad e s o m e m ore h an d s ig n als
f o r u s. I w as p re tty s u re s h e w an te d u s t o s to p s cr ew ing a ro u nd a n d g et u nd er
th e m ob ile u n it , alt h ou gh it lo oked li k e sh e w as d oing so m e v ery ba d d is co
d an cin g.
S u m mer a n d I sli d u n der th e m ob ile u n it . It w as a w fu l. H ea t ra d ia te d o ff
th e e n gin e, an d it r e ek ed o f g aso li ne . I g av e M arg e t h e t h um bs -u p t o g et g o ing
w it h h er d iv ersio n q uick ly .
M arg e p ulle d a g un o ut o f h er h ols te r.
“ O h n o,” I g asp ed . “ W hat’s s he d oing ?”
“ M ak in g s u re h er s is te r h ea rs h er.” S u m mer cl ap ped h er h and s o ver h er e a rs.
I d id th e s am e.
 an kfu lly , M arg e th ou gh t to aim aw ay fr o m any bu ild ing s or p eo p le
b efo re � rin g h er g u n . U nfo rtu n ate ly , sh e w as a te rribl e sh ot. H er � rst bu lle t
b le w th e re a rvie w m ir ro r o ff th e m obi le u n it .  e se co nd rico ch ete d o ff th e
pan da tr uck .  e th ir d a nnih ila te d a str e etla m p.
E ach b an g e ch oed lo u dly i n t h e s p ace b etw een th e b u ild ing s. In h er h aste t o
d is tr a ct her sis te r, M arg e h ad n’t co nsid ere d w hat an yo ne els e ’s re a ct io n to
h ea rin g a g u n d is ch arg e n ea r a th em e p ark m ig h t b e. O r w hat th e a ni m als ’
r e a ctio ns w ou ld b e eit h er. In th e d is ta n ce , I h ea rd th e sta rtle d tr u m pet o f
ele p h an ts a nd r oar o f b ig ca ts , a lo ng wit h m an y s ta rtle d h um an s cr ea m s.

But it ce rta in ly g o t t h e a tte n tio n o f t h e F B I a s w ell.  e a g en ts a ll b u rst o u t
of th e tr u ck a b ove u s w it h M olly in th e le a d .  ere w ere � ve o f th em n ow :
th re e w ho h ad a rriv ed o n th e h eli co pte r, and tw o w ho m ust h av e co me in th e
m ob ile u n it . I co u ld o n ly se e th eir fe et fr o m m y p osit io n, bu t fr o m th eir
s ta n ce s, I co uld te ll th ey a ll h ad th eir g uns out a s w ell.
“ W hat’s th e s it u atio n ?” M olly y ell e d t o h er s is te r.
“ S o m eo n e s u sp icio us w as p okin g a ro u nd t h e p an da t r u ck !” M arg e i nf orm ed
h er.
“ A nd y ou s hot a t th em ?” M olly s nap ped .
“ ey p u lle d a g u n o n m e � rst!” M arg e e x cl aim ed . “ ey w ent th at w ay !”
S h e p oin te d a lo n g th e s id e o f th e a dm ini str a tio n bu ild ing .
“F an o u t!” M olly o rd ere d h er a g ent s. “A vila , fo llo w m e. Jo h ns on, Ross, and
M cD on ou gh , cir cle th e a dm in b uild ing and t ry t o h ea d t he p erp o ff.”
 e a gen ts s pra n g in to a ctio n, ra cing off a ft e r t he i m ag ina ry cr im ina l.
M arg e � ash ed a satis � ed s m ir k a t S um mer a nd m e.
“ M arg e!” M olly y elle d . “G et y o u r re a r in gea r! I n eed y o u to id ent if y th e
su sp ect! ”
Marg e ra ced o ff a ft e r h er s is te r.
S u m mer a n d I scra mble d o u t fr o m u n der th e m obi le u n it .  e re a r d oors
w ere s w in gin g s h ut, bu t S u m mer q u ick ly lu n ged u p t h e s te p s a nd ca ugh t t h em
b efo re th ey l ock ed .
I h ea rd m ore vo ice s n ow . It so u nd ed li k e p eo p le w ere co ming o u r w ay,
co nce rn ed a bou t th e g un sh ots .
S u m mer a nd I sli p ped in sid e th e m obi le u ni t a nd s hut t he d oors b eh ind us.
 an kfu lly , it w as air -co ndit io n ed .  e int erio r w as sp otle ss an d ste rile .
 ere w ere se v era l w ork sta tio n s w it h p orta b le co mpu te rs, m icr osco pes, and
p le n ty o f te chnica l e qu ip m en t I d id n’t r eco gni ze .
“ D on’t to uch anyth in g,” S um mer w arne d m e.
“ N o d uh ,” I rep li e d .
O ne co mpu te r w as li v e-s tr e a m in g a lo ca l n ew sca st.  e so u nd h ad be en
tu rn ed off , bu t it w as ob vio usly abo ut L i P ing . A lo ca l T V re p orte r w as
p osit io n ed o u ts id e t h e f r o n t g ate s o f F unJ ung le .  e n ew s cr aw l a t t h e bo tto m
o f t h e s cr een d ecl are d : LI P IN G S T IL L M IS SIN G. N O L E A D S I N C ASE Y E T. P R EM IE R O F
CH IN A R EPO RT ED T O B E F U RIO US.

“H ow d o y o u th in k th e n ew s ev en le a rne d th at L i P ing w as m is sing ?” I
w on dere d . “N ot th at m an y p eo p le at F unJ ung le k ne w, an d all o f u s w ere
s u ppose d to keep it a secr et.”
“ It w ou ld n’t h av e b een th at h ard f or s om eo ne here t o � gu re i t o ut,” S um mer
re p li e d . “ e F B I w asn ’t e xa ctl y su btle w hen th ey sh ow ed u p. O ne o f th ose
p eo p le p okin g a ro u n d t h e crim e s ce ne t h is m orni ng p ro ba bly p u t t w o a nd t w o
to geth er.”
“ A nd y ou th in k th ey w en t rig ht to the ne ws?”
“ D e� n it e ly . N ew s co mpan ie s p ay bi g m one y f or t ip s l ik e t hat.”
“ Is n ’t th at il le g al? ”
“ P ro b ab ly , bu t it h ap pen s a ll t h e t im e. Peo p le a re a lw ay s t r y ing t o s e ll v id eo
o f m e to new s s ervice s.”
I sig h ed , well aw are th is w as tr u e. A fe w w eek s befo re , Su m mer had
accid en ta lly d ro p p ed a n ice -cr ea m co ne a t F unJ ung le a nd a d ay la te r, vid eo o f
it w as on a ce le b rit y new s sit e w it h th e hea d li ne : BU M MER M CCRAC KEN !
SU M MER ’S M ASSIV E IC E C REA M F A IL . E ven th ou gh it w as th e le a st int ere sting
vid eo e ver, it s till g ot s ev era l m illi o n h it s .
W e tu rn ed o ur a tte n tio n to th e r est o f t he m obi le u ni t.
 e en velo p e th at h ad been pinne d to D oc’s ch est w as sit ting on th e
desk to p a t th e w ork sta tio n fa rth est fr o m th e d oor. It h ad b een re m oved fr o m
th e p la stic evid en ce b ag .  e e n velo p e h ad b een sli t o p en, an d th e le tte r th at
h ad b een in sid e w as n ow u n fo ld ed n ex t to it . It w as a sing le sh eet o f w hit e
p ap er a nd h ad b een p rin te d o ff a co mpu te r:
D ea r J .J. M cC ra ck en —
D eli v er th e te n m illi o n d olla rs to W hite H orse R oa d , ex a ctly 1 .3 mile s w est o f
H ig h w ay 2 81.  ere is a la rg e o a k t r e e o n t h e so u th si d e o f t h e r o a d w it h a ho llo w
in t he b ack .
P la ce t he m on ey i n a b urla p s ack . U nm ark ed t w en ty -d olla r b ills .
B rin g th e m on ey a t ex a ctly tw elv e n oon o n T uesd ay. W e k n ow y o u h ave it , so
t h at s hou ld gi ve y ou p le n ty o f t im e t o g et i t t ogethe r.
C om e alo n e. If yo u fa il to deli v er the m on ey —o r if yo u brin g an y la w
en fo rc e m en t w it h y ou — bad t hin gs w ill ha ppen t o y ou r p an da.

ere w as a sm all b ro w n o b je ct ly ing o n th e ta b le w it h th e le tte r. It w as
co nica lly s hap ed , w it h a cu rv e to i t . S um mer l ea n ed in cl ose . “ W hat i s t hat? ”
“ It’s a cl aw ,” I t o ld h er. “M ust b e o ne o f L i P ing ’s .” I p oint ed t o t h e s m ooth
cu t a t th e e nd o f it. “ Looks l ik e th ey cl ip ped it o ff h er.”
S u m mer’s e y es li t u p w it h u n dersta n ding . “S o w e k no w t h ey r e a lly h av e h er.
O f co urse ! I t’s l ik e w hen k id n ap pers s end a lock of h air f ro m their v ict im s.”
 e le tte r s a t n ex t t o a co mpu te r.  e im ag e o n th e s cr een was s p li t in half .
 e le ft s id e d is p la y ed a � n gerp rin t, enl arg ed t o a h un dre d t im es it s a ct ual s iz e ,
so b ig ev ery rid ge an d w horl w as ev id ent . O n th e rig h t sid e o f th e scr een,
h un dre d s of oth er en la rg ed �ng erp rint s w ere qu ick ly scr olli ng th ro u gh , a
doze n e ach seco nd. A t th e b otto m of t he r ig h t s id e w as t he l ab el “ F B IF D .”
“ W hat d o y ou th in k th at m ea n s?” I a sk ed .
“F B I F in gerp rin t D ata b ase ?” S u m mer s u ggeste d . “I’l l b et t h e o ne o n th e le ft
ca me o ff th e l ette r o r th e e nvelo p e, a nd o n t he r ig h t s id e, t hey ’r e s ea rch ing for a
m atch !”
“ H ow lon g d o y ou th in k th at w ill t ak e?”
“ P ro b ab ly a w hile . I ’l l b et th ere ’s m illi o ns of � ng erp rint s i n t he d ata ba se .”
I g la n ce d b ack to w ard th e m ob ile u ni t d oors, w ond ering h ow lo ng w e h ad
u n til th e F B I re a li z e d th ey w ere o n a w ild -g o ose ch ase . “W e sh ou ld p ro ba bly
g et o ut o f h ere .”
“ H ey !” S um mer e xcl aim ed . “  ere ’s X av ie r!”
S h e p oin te d to th e co mpu te r th at w as li v e-s tr e a m ing th e ne ws. X av ie r w as
n ow ta lk in g to th e r ep orte r. H e w as s till w ea ring his t uxed o a nd p and a e ars.
D esp it e t h e fa ct th at s h e’d ju st w arne d m e n ot t o t o u ch a ny th ing , Su m mer
tu rn ed th e s ou n d u p o n th e co mpu te r.
“ .  . . so o f co urse I ’m d is a p poin te d ,” X av ie r w as s a y ing . “I m ea n , I’v e be en
w ait in g m on th s t o s e e L i P in g. M y w hole li f e , I’v e w an te d t o s e e a p and a. A nd
now som e j erk s te a ls h er? I h op e t hat F unJ ung le a nd t he p oli ce �nd her q uick ly
a n d th at s he’s o kay.”
 e r e p ort cu t t o a g ro w n m an w ho w as w ea ring a p an da co stu m e a nd h ad
h is f a ce p ain te d b la ck a n d w hit e . H e w as b aw li ng . “L i P ing ne ver d id a ny th ing
t o a nyo n e!” h e s ob bed . “ W hoev er s to le h er o ugh t t o g o t o j ail f or l if e !”
I cl ick ed o ff th e s o u n d a n d ch eck ed m y w atch ne rv o u sly . “W e r e a lly o u gh t
to le a ve n ow .”

As I sa id th is , how ev er, th e � n gerp rint d is p la y on th e oth er co m pu te r
sto p ped ru n nin g. A sin gle en la rg ed p rint ap pea re d o n th e rig h t- h and sid e,
a lo n g w it h th e h ea d in g “9 9.9 9% M atch .” A nam e a ppea re d be neath it.
A s m uch a s I w an te d to g et o u t o f th ere , ev en I co uld n’t re sis t se eing w ho
th e � n gerp rin t b elo n ged to . Su m m er an d I bo th re tu rne d to th e co mpu te r,
s e ek in g th e id en tit y o f w hoev er h ad s ent the r an so m no te .
 e n am e o n th e s cr een w as C arlo s E dw ard G om ez.
“ E ver h ea rd o f h im ?” S um mer a sk ed .
“N o,” I said .
“M e e it h er.” S um mer s ta rte d to type s om eth ing on t he co mpu te r.
I ca ugh t h er a rm . “ Don’t s ta rt m essing wit h a nyth ing . W e d on’t h av e t im e.”
“ D on’t b e su ch a sp az.” S u m mer p u lle d aw ay fr o m m e. “ is w on’t ta k e
lo n g. W e’l l b e g on e w ay b efo re th e F B I g ets b ack .”
A h alf se co nd la te r, th e F B I ca me b ack .  e re a r d oors o f th e tr u ck � ew
o p en .  e su n li g h t fr o m o u ts id e w as b li nd ing , ca sting th e p erso n who sto od
th ere in silh ou ette , bu t I co uld ea sily re co gni ze th e sh ap e as th at o f M olly
O ’M alle y. “I th ou gh t I m ad e it cl ea r th at th e tw o o f y o u w ere to k eep y o u r
dis ta n ce fro m th is in vestig atio n ,” s h e s aid co ld ly .
S u m mer w as ca ugh t o ff -g u ard , bu t s h e r e co vere d incr ed ibl y f a st, sp inni ng a
li e w it h a m azin g s k ill. “W e w ere lo oking f o r y o u !” s h e e x cl aim ed . “T ed dy a n d I
h ad s o m e id ea s a b ou t t h is ca se a n d t h ou gh t y o u s h ou ld h ea r t h em . So w e ca me
dow n h ere , b ut n o o ne w as a ro u nd  . . . ”
“S p are m e t h e li e s. I’m n ot a n id io t.” M olly g ra b be d bo th S u m mer a nd m e
by t h e co lla rs a n d m arch ed u s o u t t h e d oor. “I k no w y o u t w o w ere in cahoots
w it h m y s is te r. S he to ld m e e very th ing .”
O uts id e, M arg e sto od betw een tw o of th e F B I ag en ts . H er arm s w ere
w re n ch ed b eh in d h er b ack , h an dcu ffed .
“S h e d id ?” S um mer a sk ed , l ookin g be tr a y ed .
“A ctu ally , sh e cl aim ed th is w as a ll y o u r id ea ,” M olly to ld m e. “B ut I � gu re
th at’s a lie a s w ell.”
“ It is .” I g la re d a t M arg e. “ Sh e’s th e o ne who m ad e u s d o t his .”
“ H ow ?” M olly d em an ded .
M arg e m et m y e y es.  ere w as a t h re a t in th em . If I r e v ea le d h er bl ack mail
m eth od s t o M olly , M arg e co uld s till r e le a se t h e f o ota g e s h e h ad o f S u m mer o u t

of s p it e . A nd f r a n kly , I w as n erv o u s a b ou t s a y ing S u m mer h ad s h op li f t e d r ig h t
aft e r M olly h ad ju st n ab bed u s fo r tr e sp assing ; I d id n’t w an t h er to th ink
S u m mer w as a se ria l tr o u ble m ak er. So , ins te a d , I re p li e d , “S h e ju st sa id sh e’d
g et u s in trou ble .”
M olly sta re d a t m e fo r a n oth er fe w se co nd s. Sh e se em ed to su sp ect th ere
w as m ore to my s to ry , b ut it w as i m possibl e t o t ell w it h h er e yes h id den be hind
h er su n gla sse s. Fin ally , sh e sa id , “It is a cr im e to ta m per w it h e v id ence in a
fe d era l in vestig atio n . Sin ce it a p pea rs y o u w ere co erce d int o th is , I’m g o ing to
le t y o u o ff w it h a � n al w arn in g, bu t if I ca tch yo u a n yw here n ea r th is crim e
sce ne a g ain , I w ill h av e b oth o f y o u a rre ste d .” S h e s h if t e d h er g aze t o S u m mer
a n d a dded , “ I d on’t ca re w ho y ou r d ad dy i s. I s t hat u nd ersto od ?”
A ll o f S um mer’s u su al b ra v ad o v an is h ed . “ Yes,” s he s aid m eek ly .
M olly l ooked b ack at m e.
“ I u ndersta n d,” I said . “ Is M arg e u nder a rre st? ”
M olly s a id , “M y s is te r n ot o n ly p artici pate d i n th is bo nehea d ed s ch em e, bu t
sh e a ls o d is ch arg ed a � re a rm in a p u bl ic are a . I d on’t ta k e be hav io r li k e th at
li g h tly .”
I co uld n’t h elp b u t sm ile . I’d b een hand cuffed b y M arg e m yse lf , so it w as
n ice t o s e e h er g ettin g a t a ste o f h er o w n m ed ici ne . N ow t h at s h e’d be en bu ste d
b y h er o w n s is te r, I � gu re d s h e’d b ack o ff fo rci ng m e t o inv estig ate t h is cr im e.
A nd m ay b e S u m mer w ou ld b ack off a s w ell. M ea n ing I co uld g o ba ck to m y
norm al l if e a nd s ta y o ut o f tr ou ble .
I co uld n’t h av e b een m ore w ro n g. M y t ro u bl es w ere j u st g etting sta rte d .

TH E R A LLY
M olly O ’M alle y fo u nd a n e xtr e m ely eff ectiv e w ay to gu ara n te e
th at S um mer a nd I co uld n’t d o a ny m ore i nv estig ating : S he ca lle d o ur p are nt s.
 ey w ere a ll v ery u pse t w it h u s. Even when we p ro te ste d th at M arg e h ad
co erce d u s.
“ S in ce w hen h av e y o u e v er d on e a n yth ing M arg e w ant ed y o u t o d o?” M om
ask ed m e. “ Yo u co uld h av e to ld u s w hat s he w as d oing , bu t y ou ch ose no t t o.”
“ It’s n ot t h at s im ple ,” I s a id , bu t s h e a n d D ad w ere t o o a n no yed t o li s te n to
a n y m ore .
J.J . had h is d riv er t a k e S u m mer h om e f o r t h e r e st o f t h e d ay. M om br ou gh t
m e to h er o ffi ce a t M on key M ou nt ain, th en to ok m y p h one a w ay so th at I
co uld n’t co mmun ica te w it h Su m mer— or do an yth in g els e onl ine —a nd
ord ere d m e to rea d a b ook in ste a d .
I t r ie d . H ow ev er, I co uld n’t f o cu s. A s m uch a s I w an te d t o s te er cl ea r o f t h e
pan da in vestig atio n , I co uld n’t sto p th ink ing ab ou t it . Too m an y q u estio ns
w ere t u m bli n g a ro u n d in m y m in d: W ho w as C arlo s E dw ard G om ez? H ad t h e
bad g u ys re a lly b een a b le to k id na p L i P ing a nd D oc fr o m a m oving tr u ck
w it h ou t a n yo n e o n b oard n oticin g? D esp it e G re g ’s ins is te nce th at it co uld be
d on e, it s till s e em ed li k e a n in sa n ely e la b ora te h eis t t o m e. W ho h ad t h e s k ills ,
k n ow -h ow , an d fu n din g to p u ll o ff s o m eth ing li k e th at? O r w as th ere a no th er
w ay it co uld h av e b een d on e? W here w as L i P ing ? D id D oc kn ow m ore th an
h e w as le ttin g o n ? W hat w ou ld h ap pen to th e p an da if J.J . did n’t d eli v er th e
ra n so m m on ey — or if he trie d b ut t hing s w ent w ro ng ?

I als o had qu estio n s ab ou t th e inci dent at D olp h in Advent ure : Had
so m eo n e r e a lly b een t e a ch in g t h e d olp h ins t o s te a l p eo p le ’s b ath ing s u it s —a nd
if s o , w hy? W hose b ath in g s u it h ad b een le ft be hind in th e d olp h in ta nk ? A nd
w hy w as th ere tu na � sh in th e p ock ets ?
It tu rn ed o ut, I w asn ’t th e o nly o ne t hink ing abou t t his . A ro u nd thre e i n t he
aft e rn oon , O li vi a P utn ey ca lle d m y m oth er. M om sp oke to h er fo r a fe w
m in ute s, g ro w in g m ore a nd m ore s urp ris e d .
O nce she’d h un g u p, I ask ed , “ W hat w as t hat a ll a bo ut? ”
“ O li via wan ts to know if you ca n h elp h er � gu re o ut w ho’s b een g etting int o
th e ta nk a t D olp h in A dven tu re .”
“ C an I ? E ven th ou gh it ’s in vestig ating som eth ing ?”
M om th ou gh t a b ou t th is fo r a b it , dru m ming h er � ng ers o n her d esk . “I
su ppose . It d oesn ’t so u n d a s d an gero u s a s d ea li ng w it h k id na ppers  .  . . and it
s e em s l ik e it ’s a b it o f a n e m erg ency .”
“ W hy?”
“ O li via sa id yo u h ad ”— sh e p au se d to ch oose h er w ord s ca re fu lly —“ an
in cid en t th is m orn in g w it h S nick ers.”
I co uld f e el t h e b lo od r u sh t o m y f a ce a s I t u rne d r e d . In a ll t h e e x ci te m ent
w it h L i P in g, I h ad fo rg o tte n to te ll M om ab ou t th e m is h ap at D olp h in
A dven tu re . “ Yes.”
“ W ell, th ey ju st h ad a s im ila r in ci dent w it h a no th er d olp h in. And a p ay ing
g u est.”
“ U h-o h . W hat h ap pen ed ?”
“ T w ix tr ie d t o p u ll h is b ath in g s u it o ff d u ring a s e ssio n. But s h e w asn ’t q u it e
a s g o od at it as S n ick ers. Sh e o n ly g o t th e b ath ing su it d ow n to th e m an ’s
k n ees.  e m an d id n’t li k e it , th ou gh , so h e p u nch ed T w ix . A nd t h en, Tw ix bi t
him . O n th e b otto m .”
I l au gh ed , d esp it e m yse lf .
“ It’s n ot f un ny,” M om said .
“A ctu ally , it k in d o f is .”
N ow M om b ro ke, la u gh in g t o o.  en sh e s tr u ggle d t o r e g ain co ntro l. “ e
tr a in ers h ad to c lo se D olp h in A dvent ure . And it ’s g o ing to sta y cl ose d u nt il
t h ey ca n � gu re o u t h ow th e d olph ins le a rne d to d o th is a n d th en te a ch th em

not to d o it . O n th e h eels o f th e w hole p an da cr is is , th ey h av e a lo t o f a n gry
g u ests . S o th ey w an t to get to th e bo tto m of t his q uick ly .”
“ B efo re th e d olp h in s g et to th e b otto m of a nyo ne els e ?” I a sk ed .
M om snorte d w it h lau gh te r. “ Exa ctly . A nyh ow , i f y ou’d lik e t o h elp  . . . ”
“D e� n it e ly !” I s p ra n g f r o m m y ch air , ex ci te d t o h av e a n e x cu se t o g et o u t o f
th e o ffi ce . “ Can I h av e m y p hon e ba ck?”
M om gav e m e a susp icio us l ook.
“Ju st in ca se y ou n eed to rea ch m e,” I e xp la ine d. “ Not t o t alk t o S um mer.”
M om to ok m y p hon e f ro m her d esk a nd h an ded it t o m e. “ I w ant you t o g o
rig h t to th e d olp h in ta n k a n d th at’s it ,” sh e sa id . “I h ate to sa y th is , bu t I’m
g o in g t o h av e t o ch eck in w it h O li v ia . If I � nd o u t y o u’v e g o ne a n yw here ne ar
th e F B I in vestig atio n  . . . ”
“I d on’t w an t a n yth in g to d o w it h th at,” I to ld h er. “I s w ea r.” I s h oved th e
ph on e in to m y pock et, gav e her a hug, and w ent str a ig h t to D olp h in
A dven tu re .
W it h o nly o ne tin y d eto u r.
P an da Pala ce w asn ’t fa r ou t of th e w ay. I’d m ea n t to av o id it , bu t a
co mmotio n th ere g ra b bed m y a tt e nt io n. A la rg e cr ow d o f P and aM ani acs h ad
g ath ere d i n f r o n t o f t h e e xh ib it , m ak ing a s ce ne . So I s w ung p ast t o g et a be tte r
lo ok.
 e g u y in th e p an da co stu m e a nd fa ce p aint fr o m th e ne ws w as sta nd ing
a to p a p icn ic ben ch , m ak in g a sp eech to th e cr ow d. M ost of th em w ere
w ea rin g b la ck an d w hit e , an d lo ts o f th em w ere re co rd ing h im w it h th eir
p h on es. “W e ca n’t ju st sit b ack a nd le t th is h ap pen! ” th e m an to ld th em . “I
k n ow it se em s li k e th ere ’s n oth ing w e ca n d o, bu t th at’s n ot tr u e! W e ca n
ap pea l t o t h e co mmon d ece ncy o f t h ese v illa ins w ho s to le L i P ing a nd im plo re
th em to brin g h er b ack !”
A ch eer w en t u p f r o m t h e cr ow d.  e m an in th e p an da co stu m e s ta rte d t o
ch an t, “B rin g L i P in g b ack ! B ring L i P ing ba ck!”  e o th er P and aM ani acs
jo in ed in .
I sp otte d E m ily S u n a n d th e o th er p eo p le fr o m th e C hine se C ons ula te in
t h e d is ta n ce .  e fo u r o ld p eo p le in tr a d it io na l C hine se cl oth ing a p pea re d to
b e q u ie tly co ndu ctin g so m e so rt o f ce re m ony . M ay be th ey h ad d eci ded to g o
ah ea d w it h sa n ct if y in g th e e xh ibi t, or m ay be th ey w ere p ra y ing fo r L i P ing ’s

sa fe re tu rn .  e m en h eld co pper b ow ls w it h w ate r in th em , which th ey
sp rin kle d on th e exh ib it w it h th eir �ng ers, li k e th ey w ere ano int ing it .
M ea n w hile , th e w om en w ere s pre a d ing �ow er bl osso m s a cr oss t he p av em ent .
Em ily S u n w asn ’t p ay in g a n y a tte nt io n to th e ce re m ony . Sh e w as w atch in g
th e ra lly in ste a d .  e w hole s ce ne a ppea re d t o m ak e h er a ngry .
A k ee p er w as s ta n din g n ea rb y, keep ing a w ary e y e o n th e p ro ce ed ing s. H er
n am e w as C hlo é D olk art, an d sh e’d o rig ina lly w ork ed a t M onk ey M ou nt ain
b u t h ad r e ce ntly t r a n sfe rre d t o t a k e ca re o f t h e p and a. C hlo é w as a n ex tr e m ely
i n te lli g en t a n d e n th usia stic keep er, th ou gh t o d ay s h e w as o b vio u sly ne rv o u s. It
s h ou ld h av e b een a n e xtr em ely b u sy d ay f o r h er, bu t no w, since t h e p and a w as
m is sin g, sh e d id n’t se em to h av e a ny th ing to d o. Sh e n otice d m e a nd ca me
over. “ Hey, T ed dy.”
“ H i, C hlo é. W hen d id a ll th is s ta rt? ”
“A bou t � ft e en m in ute s ag o . I th ink th ey all fe lt li k e th ey ne ed ed to d o
so m eth in g.  ey w ere a ll v ery u pse t w hen Li P ing d id n’t co me o n ex h ibi t. A nd
th en w ord o f th e p an da-n ap pin g g ot o ut.”
“ P an da-n ap pin g?”
“  at’s w hat th ey ’r e ca lli n g it . Ins te a d o f yo u r sta n dard k id na pp ing . So
� n ally , C ra zy P an da G uy th ere g ot u p o n t he t ab le a nd s ta rte d s hou ting .”
W hile th e cr ow d co ntin ued to c h an t “ B ring L i P ing b ack !” C ra zy P and a
Guy sta rte d im plo rin g th em li k e a S u nd ay p re a ch er. “L if t u p y o u r v o ice s, m y
fr ie n ds! L et th e w orld h ea r u s! L et th ose h orribl e p eo p le k n ow w e w ill no t sit
q u ie tly w hile o ur p an da h as b een t ak en f ro m us!”
 e ra lly w as gro w in g b ig ger. Peo p le be gan to w and er o ver fr o m o th er
e xh ib it s .  e a cto rs d re sse d a s E le a n or E le p h ant , K azo o t h e K oala , and L i P ing
b eg an to cl ap alo n g— alt h ou gh th eir jo b descr ip tio ns p re v ent ed th em fr o m
m ak in g a ny v oca li z a tio n s.
I w on dere d if th e p erso n in th e o ffi cial L i P ing co stu m e sh ou ld ev en be
th ere , sin ce t h e a ctu al L i P in g w as m is sing . It s e em ed li k e a b ad i d ea t o m e, bu t
may b e w hoev er w as in ch arg e o f t h e a ct ors h ad n’t f e lt t h e s a m e w ay.  ey w ere
s till le ttin g s o m eo n e d re ss u p a s K azo o th e K oala , ev en th ou gh th e r e a l Ka zo o
h ad r e tu rn ed t o A ustr a li a m on th s be fo re ; ap pare nt ly , th e g u ests e nj oyed s e eing
s o m eo n e d re sse d lik e a k oala , e ven if t here w asn ’t a rea l k oala a ro u nd .
“H av e y ou h ea rd a nyth in g a bou t L i P ing ?” C hlo é a sk ed h op efu lly .

“N ot re a lly ,” I sa id . I � gu re d a n yth ing I ’d le a rne d fr o m p oking a ro u nd th e
F B I in vestig atio n o ugh t to be k ep t a secr et.
“ O h,” C hlo é s a id . “I w as h op in g t h at s ince , yo u k n ow , yo u’v e be en inv olv ed
in s o m an y o th er ca se s h ere  . . . ”
“N ot th is tim e.  e F B I is han dli n g it. ”
“W ell, I h op e t h ey k n ow w hat t h ey ’r e d oing . Pan das a re n ’t e a sy t o t a k e ca re
o f.”
“ I’m sure w e’l l g et h er b ack ,” I said , e ven t hou gh I w asn ’t r ea lly s ure a t a ll.
“ W e b ette r,” C hlo é s a id . “I m ea n, if th e p an da-na ppers th ink a ll th ey h av e
to d o is g iv e L i P in g a b u n ch o f ba mboo an d sh e’l l b e � ne , th ey ’r e so re ly
m is ta k en . P an das d on’t e a t ju st a n y b am boo—a nd L i P ing i s p ick ie r t h an m ost.
 ere ’s o n ly o n e k in d sh e li k es. If th e p an da-na ppers d on’t h av e it , sh e m ig h t
n ot e at. O r s he m ig h t g et r ea lly s tr e sse d o ut. N eit h er o ne wou ld be good .”
“ I g uess n ot,” I a gre ed .
“P lu s, pan das ea t m ore th an m ost peo p le re a li z e . At le a st tw ent y-� ve
p ou n ds a d ay. B ut s o m etim es u p t o f o rty . D o y o u t h ink t h e p an da-na ppers w ill
h av e th at m uch aro u n d?”
“ I d ou bt it .” I w as s u rp ris e d t o le a rn how m uch p and as a te .  ey h ad ne ver
se em ed b ig e nou gh to put th at m uch food a w ay.
“ W e w ill n ot r e st u n til L i P in g is r e tu rne d!” C ra zy P and a G uy p ro cl aim ed .
“W e w ill n ot g iv e u p o ur vig il u ntil s he i s s afe a nd s ou nd once again! ”
By P an da P ala ce , th e C hin ese w om en beg an t h eir o w n dance w hile t h e m en
p lu ck ed o ld -fa sh io n ed s tr in g in str u m ent s.  e d an ce w as v ery m eth od ica l a nd
d eli b era te .  e w om en m oved a s t hou gh t hey w ere i n s lo w m otio n.
E m ily S un s to od cl ose b y, o bse rvi ng every th ing wit h a b ig f ro w n.
“H av e y ou to ld th e F B I a bou t th is ?” I a sk ed C hlo é.
“ I h av en ’t h ad a ch an ce . I k eep t h ink ing s o m eo ne w ill co me a lo n g t o t a lk t o
m e, bu t n o o n e h as. A nd I d on’t e v en kn ow h ow t o g et a h old o f t h em m yse lf .”
C hlo é b ru sh ed th e h air fr o m h er e y es a n d lo oked to m e e x p ect an tly . “C ou ld
y o u te ll s om eo n e to talk to me?”
“ I d on’t th in k s o.  e F B I d oesn ’t r ea lly w an t a nyth in g to do w it h m e.”
“ H ow abou t J .J.? H e l is te n s to you , r ig h t? ”
“ S o m etim es. I guess I co uld ta lk to Sum mer.”
“ A nyth in g y ou co uld d o w ou ld h elp .”

I q u ick ly w ro te a t e xt to S u m mer, u rg ing h er f a th er t o a sk t h e F B I to talk to
C hlo é, w on derin g if it w ou ld e ver h ap pen.
“ In a d dit io n ,” C ra zy P an da G uy w as sa y ing , “w e w ill no t le t F unJ ung le li e
t o u s a b ou t th e sta te o f L i P in g a n ym ore ! If th ey k n ow a ny th ing a bo ut o u r
pan da— go od o r b ad — th en w e d ese rv e t o k now it t oo!”
 e cr ow d ch eere d ab ou t th is as w ell, alt h ou gh th e act ors p la y ing th e
Fun Ju n gle ch ara cte rs s eem ed to gro w w orrie d a nd s ta rte d t o s id le a w ay.
A s I se n t th e te xt, an e ld erly w om an a p pro ach ed . If th ere h ad n’t be en so
m uch els e go in g on , I p ro b ab ly w ou ld h av e n otice d h er so one r: Sh e w as
d re sse d v ery d iff ere n tly fr o m th e u su al F unJ ung le to u ris t. M ost v is it o rs to th e
park w ore T -s h ir ts an d sh orts , while th is w om an w as w ea ring a ni ce w hit e
p an ts u it a n d lo n g la ce g lo ves m ore su it e d to a co ckta il p arty . Sh e a ls o h ad a n
en orm ou s s u n h at, w it h a n e n tir e b ou qu et o f � ow ers i n th e b an d a nd a br im s o
w id e it w as h ard t o s e e h er fa ce . “E xcu se m e,” s h e s a id in a h one yed S o u th ern
d ra w l. “ I co uld n’t h elp o verh ea r y ou t alk ing abou t L i P ing .”
C hlo é a n d I b oth t u rn ed t o h er, w orrie d . W e p ro ba bly w ere n ’t s u ppose d t o
b e ta lk in g a bou t th e F B I in vestig atio n in fro n t o f g uests .
“A re yo u in vo lv ed w it h th e ca re o f th e p and as h ere at F unJ ung le ?” th e
w om an a sk ed C hlo é, th en le a n ed in to e x am ine t h e na me t a g o n her u ni fo rm .
“C hlo é, is it? ”
“U h, y es,” C hlo é s aid .
“It’s a p le a su re to m eet y o u ,” th e w om an sa id . “M y n am e is F lo ra . Flo ra
H an co ck.”
“ Y o u’r e th e a n im al la d y!” I e x cl aim ed be fo re I co uld th ink b ette r o f it . H er
n am e h ad co me u p d u rin g th e K azo o inv estig atio n. Sh e su ppose d ly o w ne d a
g re a t n um ber o f w ild a n im als , in cl uding th ing s li k e p ant hers a nd tig ers, on a
la rg e ra nch som ew here n orth o f F unJ ung le .
F lo ra ap pea re d p le a sa n tly su rp ris e d , pu tt ing a g lo ved h an d to h er ch est.
“ A nd y ou a re  . . . ?”
“ T ed dy. T ed dy F it z ro y.”
“ B oth h is p are n ts w ork h ere ,” C hlo é e xp la ine d.
“A nd h ow is it th at y ou k now o f m e?” F lo ra d ra w le d .
“I’v e ju st h ea rd y o u r n am e a co uple tim es,” I sa id . “P eo p le sa y y o u h av e
y o u r o wn p riv ate z oo.”

“I w ou ld n’t s a y th at .” F lo ra o p en ed a la ce fa n a n d � ap ped it in fr o nt o f h er
fa ce . “I m ere ly o w n a fe w e x o tics . I tr u ly lo ve a n im als , yo u se e. A nd I w as so
e x cite d a b ou t L i P in g. I h ad A rth ur d riv e m e a ll t h e w ay d ow n h ere t o s e e h er
to d ay.” S he p oin te d h er f an to ward a m an I had n’t no tice d be fo re .
 e m an s to od a r e sp ectf ul d is ta n ce b eh ind h er. H e w as a bo ut t h e s a m e a g e
as F lo ra , dre sse d in a n ice s u it t h at lo oked e x tr e m ely u n co mfo rta b le , giv en th e
hea t. H e n od ded g ra cio usly to us.
“ Is th at y ou r h usb an d?” C hlo é a sk ed .
F lo ra l au gh ed . “ Good n ess, n o! A rth ur i s m y m an se rv ant !”
C hlo é tu rn ed b eet r ed in em barra ssm ent . “ Oh. I ’m sorr y  . . . u h . . . ”
Flo ra w av ed th is o ff , in dica tin g it d id n’t b oth er h er. “A nyh ow , we w ere
a b so lu te ly d ev a st a te d to h ea r th at L i P in g h ad b een sto le n. Do y o u h av e a ny
id ea w ho d id it? ”
“N o,” I said .
“B ut w e’l l � nd th em ,” C hlo é a dded q uick ly . “ And w e’l l g et h er ba ck.”
“ I ce rta in ly h op e so .” F lo ra cl ucke d h er to ng ue sa d ly . “I ca n’t be li e v e th ose
s co un dre ls w ou ld a ctu ally s te a l a p and a. A nd y o u s a y t h ey p ro ba bly d on’t e v en
h av e th e rig ht b am boo f or h er?”
“  at’s rig h t.” C hlo é w as sp ea k ing ne rv o u sly , as if still e m barra sse d a b ou t
m is ta k in g F lo ra ’s se rv an t fo r h er h usb an d. “ ere a re o ver fo u rte en hund re d
d iff ere n t t y p es o f b am boo i n t h e w orld , bu t w ild p an das o nl y e a t a bo ut f o rty o f
th ose . A nd L i P in g o nly e ats o n e .”
“ O nly o ne?” F lo ra r ep ea te d , s urp ris e d . “ W hat k ind ?”
“ It’s ca lle d W olo n g b am boo. I d on’t k n ow w hy sh e li k es th at a n d no t a ny
o th er, bu t th at’s th e ca se . M ay b e s h e g o t s p oile d , gro w ing u p in captiv it y . B ut
it ’s n ot a co mmon b am boo. I f w hoev er t ook h er d oesn ’t h av e i t . . . ”
“O h d ea r,” F lo ra g asp ed , fa n nin g h erse lf a s th ou gh sh e m ig h t fa int . “O h
dea r, th at w ou ld n’t b e g ood a t a ll.”
N ext to Pan da P ala ce , th e cr ow d w as s till g ro w ing aro u nd Cra zy P and a G uy.
“ If F un Ju n gle ca n’t get L i P in g ba ck, th en we d ese rv e ano th er p and a!” h e
ex cl aim ed . “ And f re e a nnual p asse s!”
 e cr ow d ch eere d lou der a t th is t h an a nyth ing he’d s aid s o f ar.
S ev era l F un Ju n gle s e cu rit y g u ard s h ad g ath ere d a ro u nd t h e p erim ete r o f t h e
cr ow d.  ey lo oked to o n e a n oth er u n ea sily , ap pare nt ly th ink ing th is p ro te st

sh ou ld b e b ro ken u p, b ut in no h urr y t o u pse t t he cr ow d.
T o t h e s id e o f it a ll, th e C hin ese m en and w om en ap pea re d t o h av e � ni sh ed
th eir ce re m on y.  ey w ere n o lo n ger d an ci ng o r p la y ing ins tr u m ent s. Ins te a d ,
th ey w ere a ll d rin kin g s od as o ut o f s ou veni r F unJ ung le cu ps.
I re a li z e d E m ily S u n w as sta rin g a t m e. Sh e w as lo oking str a ig h t th ro u gh
th e cr ow d, her m ou th a th in , ang ry li ne . Sh e d id n’t se em h ap py to se e m e
th ere .
I r e a li z e d I h ad d alli e d w ay t o o lo ng . If M om w as r e a lly g o ing t o ch eck u p
on m e, th en I n eed ed to get to Dolp h in A dvent ure q uick ly .
C hlo é a n d F lo ra w ere re a lly h it ting it o ff , bond ing o ver int rig u ing p and a
fa cts . “D id y o u k n ow th at p an das a re p ig eo n- to ed ?” C hlo é w as sa y ing . “ ey
w alk w it h th eir f ro n t p aw s a ngle d inw ard .”
“ M y g ood n ess,” F lo ra s aid . “ I h ad n o i d ea .”
“ I h av e to go,” I to ld th em . “ It w as n ice to m eet y ou , M is s H anco ck.”
“ A p le a su re ,” F lo ra d ra w le d .
“If y ou h ea r a nyth in g a bou t L i P ing , let m e k now ,” C hlo é s aid .
“W ill d o.” I h urrie d to w ard D olp h in Advent ure . A s I ra n a lo ng , I re a li z e d
th at n ow th at I h ad m y p h on e ba ck, I co uld � nd o u t o ne m ore im porta nt
th in g ab ou t th e pan da in vestig atio n: th e ba ckgro u nd of th e m an whose
� n gerp rin t h ad b een o n th e ra n so m n ote . Using th e vo ice sy ste m o n my
ph on e, I ask ed , “ W ho is C arlo s E dw ard G om ez?”
 e p h on e d id n’t a n sw er rig h t a w ay.  ere w ere m any sp ots a t F unJ ung le
w here ce ll co vera g e w asn ’t g re a t— we w ere p re tty fa r fr o m civil iz a tio n , aft e r a ll
— an d I w as in o n e o f t h em . B y t h e t im e I r e a ch ed D olp h in Advent ure , I s till
d id n’t h av e a rep ly .
 e e n tr a n ce w as co rd on ed o ff w it h ro p es a nd sig ns inf orm ing g u ests th at
th e exh ib it w as cl ose d du e to “m aint ena nce is su es.” K ris ti Su lli v an, who
w ork ed in P ubli c Rela tio n s, w as s ta n ding n ea rb y, stu ck w it h th e th ank le ss jo b
o f h an dli n g th e a n gry g u ests w hose d olp h in enco unt ers h ad be en cance lle d .
“W e h ere a t F un Ju n gle s in ce re ly r e g re t a n y inco nveni ence t h is h as ca use d ,” s h e
w as t e lli n g a cl uste r o f a n noyed I ta li a n s. “ e m one y y o u p aid h as a lr e a d y be en
re fu n ded t o y o u r cr ed it ca rd , an d w e’d li k e y o u t o a cce pt t h is v o u ch er f o r a f r e e
so u ven ir s od a a t a ny F un Ju n gle v end or a s o ur a polo gy.”
“ W e d on’t w an t s ou ven ir s od a!” a t o u ris t e xcl aim ed . “ We w ant dolp h ins !”

Kris ti ca ugh t s ig h t o f m e a n d s ig n ale d t h at s h e w as t o o bu sy t o e v en sa y h i.
S o I s li p ped u n der t h e r o p es a n d e nt ere d t h e d olp h in are a . It w as e erily s ile nt ,
co mpare d to th e ch ao s a ro u n d th e p an da e x h ibi t. N orm ally , th e ta nk s w ou ld
h av e been fu ll of ex cite d gu ests . Now th ere w as n o no is e ex cep t fo r th e
occa sio n al s pla sh o f a sw im min g d olp h in.
I w as h ea d in g to th e ch eck -in are a , lo oking fo r O li v ia , when my p h one
� n ally an nou n ce d, “O kay, I fo u nd th is o n th e W eb abo ut C arlo s E dw ard
G om ez.”
I g la n ce d a t th e s cr een , a nd w hat I s aw m ad e m e s to p in m y t ra ck s.
C arlo s E dw ard G om ez w as th e p re sid ent of t he N atu re F re ed om Force .

TH E T A N K
The to p h it fo r C arlo s Edw ard G om ez w as his W ik ip ed ia pag e.
A cco rd in g to it , G om ez w as o n e o f th e fo u nd ers o f th e N FF , alt h ou gh h e’d
b een in vo lv ed w it h se v era l o th er ani m al rig h ts g ro u ps b efo re , incl uding th e
A nim al L ib era tio n F ro n t.  e � rst p h oto o f h im w as a p oli ce m ug sh ot. H e
was y o u n g, w it h lo n g h air a n d a m usta ch e, and h e w as s m ili ng d esp it e h av ing
b een a rre ste d , as th ou gh h e w as p le a se d it h ad h ap pene d.  e a rticl e cl aim ed
h e’d actu ally been arre ste d se v era l tim es— fo r so m eth ing ca lle d m onk ey -
w re n ch in g. I h ad n o id ea w hat m onk ey -w re nch ing w as, bu t b efo re I co uld
lo ok it u p, O li via ran o ver.
“ T ed dy!  an ks fo r co min g!” Sh e w as back in her usu al ba th ing su it ,
a lt h ou gh h er h air w as d ry a n d f r iz z y a g ain, ind ica ting it h ad b een a w hile s ince
s h e’d b een in th e w ate r. “ I r ea lly a ppre cia te th is . W e’r e in kind of a p ick le h ere .”
I sli p ped m y p h on e b ack in to m y p ock et, �gu ring th e p an da ca se co uld
w ait . A ft e r a ll, I w as s u ppose d to b e k eep ing m y d is ta n ce fr o m it . “I’m h ap py
to h elp , b ut . . . h av e y ou ca lle d p ark s ecu rit y a bou t t his ?”
“ O f co urse . B ut th ey ’r e r ea lly b usy w it h t his w hole s to le n- pan da t hing .”
“ I th ou gh t th e F B I w as h an dli n g th at.”
“  ey s till n eed h elp f ro m secu rit y g ath ering inf orm atio n, I guess.”
“ O h,” I s a id . I � gu re d th ey w ere s till lo oking fo r th e ca r th at h ad d u m ped
D oc in the p ark in g l ot.
“ S o it lo oks li k e it ’s ju st y o u a n d m e. C ’m on, I’l l s h ow y o u w here w e f o u nd
th e s e co nd b ath in g s u it .” O li via le d m e p ast th e ch eck -in are a fo r th e d olp h in

sw im s.  is w as a sm all b u ild in g w it h a re g is tr a tio n count er a nd , th is be ing
F un Ju n gle , a tin y gif t sh op where peo p le co uld bu y dolp h in- th em ed
m erch an dis e . It w as e m pty e x ce pt f o r t h e w if e o f t h e g u y w ho’d be en bitte n on
th e b otto m , an d a n u n lu ck y D olp h in Advent ure e m plo yee n am ed N ick w ho
w as s tu ck dea li n g w it h h er.
“ N o o n e h ere e v er in fo rm ed u s th at th ere w as a d ang er o f b eing bi tte n by
on e o f y ou r s tu pid d olp h in s!” th e w om an w as s cr ea m ing .
“A ctu ally ,” N ick s a id , “y o u s ig n ed a w aiv er t h at d id inf orm y o u o f p ote nt ia l
ris k s . . . ”
“P ote n tia l ris k s? M y h usb an d is no w m is sing a p ie ce o f h is re a r e nd !  e
docto r sa y s it p ro b ab ly w on’t g ro w b ack ! H e’l l h av e to g o th ro u gh th e re st o f
h is l if e w it h a d iv o t in his b utto cks ! B eca use y ou r d olp h in a tt a ck ed h im !”
“ In s elf - d efe n se . Y ou r h usb an d p unch ed h er.”
“ It w as tr y in g to s te a l h is b ath in g s u it !  at d olp h in was a p erv ert! I d id n’t
s e e a n yth in g a b ou t p erv erte d d olp h ins o n my w aiv er! I o u gh t to s u e th is p ark
fo r a m illi o n d olla rs.”
O li via h urrie d m e p ast b efo re th e w om an sp otte d u s. “S h e’s b een in th ere
fo r h alf a n h ou r,” s h e e xp la in ed , “ins te a d o f w it h h er ‘p oor’ h usb an d. W ho is n ’t
i n th at b ad sh ap e a t a ll. I sa w th e a ft e rm ath . H e’s n ot m is sing a c h unk o f h is
b u tt. I t’s o nly a lit tle s cra pe. T wix ba re ly ni pped h im .”
“  en w hy’s s he � ip pin g o ut? ” I a sk ed .
“S h e’s p ro b ab ly tr y in g to sh ak e u s d ow n. To se e if J.J . M cC ra ck en will
co ugh u p so m e ca sh ra th er th an go to co urt.  e sa d th ing is , it ’l l p ro ba bly
work .”
“ R ea lly ?”
“ O h y ea h . It w on’t b e a m illi o n d olla rs, bu t it co uld d e� ni te ly be a co uple
t h ou sa n d. J.J . doesn ’t w an t th e p u bli c to h ea r th at o ne o f h is d olp h ins bi t
so m eo n e’s b u tt. It’l l h urt b u sin ess . So it ’s ch ea p er t o p ay o ff s o m eo ne li k e t h is .
A nd t h at w om an k n ow s it . Sh e’s p ro ba bly t h rille d t h at h er h usb an d g o t bi tte n.
G iv es h er a ch an ce to get h er w hole v aca tio n h ere p aid f or—a nd t hen s om e.”
W e re a ch ed th e ed ge o f th e ta nk a n d b eg an to ci rcl e a ro u nd it , hea d ing
t o w ard th e e m plo yees-o n ly a re a a t t he f ar e nd .
Sev era l d olp h in s im med ia te ly ra ce d o ver to u s. O li v ia ’s p re se nce u su ally
m ea n t p la y tim e a nd f re sh � sh .

“S o rr y , gu ys,” O li via to ld th em . “N o � sh rig h t no w. W e’r e ju st p assing
t h ro u gh .”
 e dolp h in s co ntin ued to vie fo r ou r att e nt io n an yh ow , click ing and
w his tli n g a t u s. A � ve-y ea r-o ld n am ed P op R ock s e v en le a p ed int o t h e a ir a nd
d id a � ip .
I p au se d , co nsid erin g th e la y o u t o f D olp h in Advent ure . M ost e x h ibi ts a t
F un Ju n gle h ad b ig fe n ce s o r la rg e m oats t o p re v ent p eo p le fr o m g o ing in wit h
th e a n im als , or th ey w ere lo ca te d ins id e b u ild ing s w here th e d oors co uld be
lo ck ed . D olp h in A dven tu re w asn ’t li k e th at.  e o nl y b arr ie rs to th e e x h ibi t
were a s h ort fe n ce a ro u n d t h e b ea ch , an d a fo u r-fo ot w all t h at s u rro u nd ed t h e
re st o f th e ta n k. A sm all ch ild co u ld h av e ea sily cl im be d o ver eit h er o ne o f
th em .
“If s o m eo n e w as in t h e p ark a ft e r h ou rs,” I o bs erv ed , “th ey co uld e a sily g et
in to th is ta nk.”
“ Y es,” O li via ad m it te d , “b u t F un Ju ng le is lo ck ed u p at ni gh t. N o o ne ’s
s u ppose d to be in here u nle ss th ey w ork h ere .”
“ S o w hoev er g o t in w it h t h e d olp h ins m ust w ork a t F unJ ung le ,” I s a id , th en
th ou gh t to add, “ Or th ey s nuck in s om eh ow .”
“ P eo p le h av e s nuck in to th e p ark be fo re ,” O li v ia r em ind ed m e.
“ Y es, bu t s in ce t h en , J.J . has r e a lly b eefe d u p s e cu rit y a ro u nd t h e p erim ete r.
P lu s, th e o n ly p la ce a n yo n e e v er g o t in was t h e f e nce a ro u nd S afa riL and .  at’s
a n a w fu l lo n g w ay fr o m h ere , and y o u’d h av e to co me th ro u gh a h uge e x h ibi t
fu ll o f w ild an im als . It se em s li k e a h uge am ou nt o f w ork to g et int o th e
dolp h in ta n k. Plu s, it ’s d an gero u s.” I k ne w th is fr o m ex p erie nce . I’d fa ce d
dow n w ild a n im als a t n ig h t in th e A sia P la ins .  ere w ere so m e v ery bi g a nd
sca ry a n im als o u t t h ere , li k e C ap e b u ff alo , and e v en th e m ed iu m -s iz e a nt elo p e
co uld s till tra mple y ou o r g ore y ou w it h t heir h orns .
“S o ?” O li via co un te re d . “I’m s u re t h ere a re p eo p le o u t t h ere w ho re a lly w an t
to sw im w it h d olp h in s. O r m ay be so m eo ne fo u nd a p la ce be sid es S afa riL and
to s nea k in to th e p ark .”
“ It’d s till b e m uch e a sie r t o a lr e a d y b e ins id e F unJ ung le ,” I ins is te d . “A nd a
lo t o f p eo p le w ork h ere at n ig h t: ja ni to ria l sta ff and n ig h ttim e k eep ers and
se cu rit y g uard s a nd s tu ff .”

“Y o u th in k a se c u rit y g u ard a ctu ally b ro ke th e ru le s a n d w ent sw im ming
w it h th e d olp h in s?”
“ M ay b e.” I lo oked in to t h e t a n k. I w as b ro ili ng in th e h ea t. It w as e x tr e m ely
t e m ptin g t o le a p o ver t h e w all in to t h e co ol w ate r. A nd t h ere w ere d olp h ins a s
a b on us. H ow ev er, th e d olp h in sw im co st h und re d s o f d olla rs. Lots o f p eo p le
co uld n’t a ff ord it — or it w as a o n ce -in- a-li f e tim e e x p erie nce . “W hat if o n e o f
th e o th er e m plo yees g o t je a lo u s o f y o u g u ys o ver h ere ?  ey ’r e o u t t h ere in th e
su n , doin g th eir jo b s all d ay, an d yo u’r e h ere in a g ia n t p ool p la y ing w it h
d olp h in s.”
“  at’s n ot e xa ctly a ll w e d o.” O li v ia s o u nd ed a b it ins ult e d . “T ak ing ca re o f
all th ese d olp h in s is a lot o f w ork .”
“ Y ea h ,” I a d m it te d , “b u t it p ro b abl y s till lo oks li k e p ara d is e co mpare d to a
lo t o f o th er jo b s a t F un Ju n gle . So m e e m plo yees h av e to u n cl og to ile ts a ll d ay.
O r s h ovel e le p h an t p oop . O r w alk a ro u nd in a b ig , hot a ni m al co stu m e w hen
it ’s a h un dre d a nd te n d eg re es.”
O li via co nsid ere d t h at, th en n od ded a cce pta n ce . “I s u ppose t h at’s p ossibl e.”
S h e s ta rte d w alk in g a ro u n d th e ta nk a gain.  e d olp h ins follo w ed h er.
I fo llo w ed h er to o, re a li z in g I h ad to br ing u p o ne o th er id ea . I’d be en
h esit a n t to m en tio n it , th ou gh . “M ay be o ne o f th e o th er tr a ine rs ta u gh t th e
dolp h in s to ste a l p eo p le ’s s uit s .”
“ N o w ay.” O li via se em ed o ff en ded b y th e id ea , w hich w as ex act ly w hy I
h ad n’t b ro u gh t it u p b efo re .
“ W hy not? ” I pre sse d . “I kn ow yo u sa id th e dolp h ins co uld pick up
beh avio rs fr o m p eo p le b y accid ent , bu t yan king o ff so m eo ne ’s ba th ing su it
k in d o f s e em s li k e s o m eth in g th at w ou ld b e ta u gh t. A nd o nl y a tr a ine r w ou ld
k n ow h ow to do th at.”
O li via f r o w ned . I g o t t h e s e n se t h at t h is h ad o ccu rre d t o h er a lr e a d y, bu t s h e
had n’t w an te d to m en tio n it e it h er. Fina lly , sh e sa id , “A ll th e tr a ine rs h ere a re
v ery co mmit te d to th ese a n im als . W e a ll k n ow w e h av e p lu m jo bs h ere , and
w e’v e w ork ed r e a lly h ard t o g et t h em . I ca n’t im ag ine a ny one w ou ld je o p ard iz e
th at b y te ach in g th e d olp h in s a n a ggre ssiv e be hav io r f or no good r ea so n. ”
“W ell, m ay b e th ey h ad a rea so n .”
“ L ik e w hat? ”

Now t h at I t h ou gh t a b ou t it , I r e a lly co uld n’t co me u p w it h a g o od a ns wer.
 e b est I co uld m an ag e w as, “ May be they t hou gh t i t’d be funny ?”
“ F un ny e n ou gh to g et th e w hole e x h ibi t sh ut d ow n a n d lo se a bu nch o f
b u sin ess? I t d oesn ’t m ak e s e n se . A nd I ca n’t co me u p w it h a ny o th er r e a so n th at
d oes.”
W e re a ch ed th e fa rth est e n d o f th e ta n k fr o m th e b ea ch .  is w as w here
m ost o f th e m ain te n an ce e q u ip m ent w as. It to ok a g re a t d ea l o f m ach ine ry to
k eep a fa k e oce an go in g w it h ou t le tting th e w ate r get sta g na nt and sta rt
b re ed in g fu n gu s. M ost o f it w as h id den beh ind a b lu e w all w it h a h uge p h oto
m ura l o f a C arib bea n b ea ch o n it , th ou gh th ere w as a ls o so m e e q u ip m ent a t
th e b otto m of th e ta nk.
O li via p oin te d d ow n to a p ip e th at ra n ju st a bo ve th e � oor o f th e ta nk .
“ at’s w here w e f ou n d th e b ath ing suit , t uck ed u nd er t here .”
 e p ip e w as p ain te d b lu e t o m ak e it bl end in wit h t h e � oor, an d it w as s o
fa r d ow n, I co uld n’t s ee it v ery w ell.
“ O li via !” A v o ice ca rrie d a cr oss th e w ate r. It w as N ick , th e p oor g u y w e’d
l e ft w it h t h e a n gry w if e o f t h e d olp h in- bit e v ict im . “C an yo u co me h ere ?  is
w om an r ea lly w an ts to talk to som eo ne hig h er u p t han I a m !”
O li via sig h ed , ob vio usly n ot th rille d b y th e p ro sp ect . “G uess sh e w ant s to
y ell a t s om eo n e e ls e f or a w hile . W ill y ou be all r ig h t o ut h ere b y y ou rse lf ? ”
“ S u re ,” I said . “ Can I w alk a ro u n d t he t an k?”
“ Y ea h . Ju st s ta y cl ea r o f t h e m ach ine ry , okay ? I ’l l b e ba ck a s s o on as I ca n.”
O li via ra n a ro u n d th e ta n k to w ard th e o ffi ce s.  e d olp h ins a ll fo llo w ed h er,
a b an don in g m e. A ft e r a ll, s he w as t he o ne who u su ally br ou gh t t hem the � sh .
It su dden ly o ccu rre d to m e w hy so m eo ne w ou ld h av e tu na � sh in th e
pock ets o f th eir b ath in g su it . O li v ia a n d th e o th er d olp h in sta ff u se d � sh to
tr a in th e d olp h in s. If th e d olp h in s d id so m eth ing g o od , th ey w ere re w ard ed
w it h fo o d . B ut th e � sh w as d eli v ere d e a rly e v ery m orni ng . By th e e nd o f th e
day, it w as p ro b ab ly g on e. O r if anyth ing was l eft , i t w as m ost l ik ely l ock ed u p.
So if so m eo n e w as lo okin g to tr a in th e d olp h ins th em se lv es, th ey w ou ld
p ro b ab ly h av e to b rin g th eir o w n �sh . I h ad n o id ea if d olp h ins w ou ld ea t
ca nned tu n a or n ot, bu t it w ou ld pro ba bly be ea sie r to sm uggle a tu na
sa n dw ich in to th e p ark th an a n e nt ir e d ea d m ack ere l.

e d olp h in s � n ally re a li z e d O li v ia w asn ’t go ing to fe ed th em , so th ey
a b an don ed h er a n d sta rte d ra cin g a ro u nd th e b otto m o f th e ta n k. I tr ie d to
w atch th em , bu t it w as h ard to se e.  e su n w as re � ect ing o ff th e w ate r so
b rig h tly it w as b li n din g. H ow ev er, th ere w as a n un derw ate r v ie w ing a re a fo r
gu ests o n t h e f a r s id e o f t h e t a n k f r o m t h e ch eck -in are a . I � gu re d I co uld g et a
b ette r vie w o f th e d olp h in s— and th e ta n k it s e lf —f ro m th ere , so I ci rcl ed
a ro u n d th at w ay.
 e u n derw ate r vie win g a re a w as re a lly w ell d esig ne d.  e g ro u nd a ro u nd
th e ta n k h ad b een e x ca vate d so th at th e w alk w ay slo p ed be lo w th e su rfa ce o f
th e w ate r, le a d in g to a tw en ty -fo ot- lo ng , eig h t- fo ot- h ig h w all o f th ick g la ss.
S in ce t h e w ate r w en t r ig h t t o t h e t o p o f t h e g la ss, sig ns w arne d g u ests t h at t h ey
w ere in a n o ffi cia l “ S p la sh Z on e” a n d co uld p ossibl y g et w et. A s I ’d s u sp ect ed ,
m y vie w o f th e p ark ’s eig h t d olp h ins w as m uch b ette r fr o m h ere . Fou r h ad
fo rm ed a s m all p od a n d w ere r a ci ng e a ch o th er, w hile t h re e o th ers w ere d oing
la zy la p s.  e la st o n e w as d ow n n ea r th e p ip e O li v ia h ad p oint ed o u t be fo re ,
ly in g m otio n le ss o n th e � oor.
I � gu re d it w as sle ep in g. Sin ce d olp h ins br ea th e air , th ey ca n’t sle ep th e
sa m e w ay h um an s d o, beca use t h en th ey ’d s ink a nd d ro w n. (A ls o , be ing a sle ep
o u t in th e oce an w ou ld le a v e th em vu lne ra b le to sh ark att a ck s.) So th ey
a ctu ally sh ut d ow n h alf o f th eir br ains a t a tim e, le tting o ne sid e sle ep w hile
t h e o th er m on it o rs th eir su rro u nd ing s an d co ntro ls th eir b re a th ing . In th e
w ild , dolp h in s w ou ld s le ep m otio nl ess a t t h e s u rfa ce o f t h e w ate r o r s w im v ery
slo w ly , bu t in ca ptivity , th ey w ere k n ow n t o o cca sio na lly s no oze a t t h e b otto m
o f th eir ta n ks a s w ell. (P ossib ly b eca use th ey k n ew th ere w ere no p re d ato rs in
ca ptivity .) A t tim es li k e th is , th e d olp h ins w ou ld u se th eir o xy g en very s lo w ly ,
su rfa cin g e very o nce in a w hile f or a b re a th be fo re d rif t ing ba ck dow n a gain.
 e t a n k w as s o b ig , I co uld b are ly s e e t h e fa r s id e o f it .  e d olp h ins o ver
th ere l ooked a s s m all a s m in now s.
B ut I h ad a g re a t vie w o f T wix, w ho ca me r ig h t u p t o t he g la ss t o g re et m e. I
re co gn iz e d h er f r o m a s m all s ca r o n her n ose , as w ell a s h er ch eerfu l a ttit u de. I
w on dere d if s h e m ig h t r e co gn iz e m e, since I ’d s p ent s o m uch t im e in th e t a nk s
wit h h er l ate ly .
N orm ally , th e vie win g a re a s w ere e x ce ptio na lly cr ow ded , bu t to d ay I h ad
T w ix all t o m yse lf . O li via , N ick , an d t h e a n gry w om an w ere a ll t h e w ay o n th e

fa r s id e o f th e ta nk, in the ch eck -in a re a .
I m ad e a cir cle in t h e a ir w it h m y � ng er, giv ing T w ix a s ig na l I ’d s e en Oli v ia
d o a h un dre d tim es.
T w ix tw ir le d in th e w ate r l ik e a b alle rina doing a p ir o u ette .
“A w eso m e!” I e xcl aim ed . “ Now tr y t his .” I � ap ped m y h an d.
T w ix � ap ped h er p ecto ra l � ns in resp ons e.
I’d n ev er h ad a d olp h in r e sp on d to m y co mman ds be fo re . It w as a lm ost a s
a m azin g a s g ettin g to be in th e w ate r w it h t hem .
I g av e T w ix an oth er co mman d. A nd a n oth er. A nd an oth er. Sh e p erfo rm ed
th em all, ap pare n tly havin g ju st as m uch fu n as I w as. I fo rg o t abo ut
ev ery th in g els e fo r a w hile .  e sto le n pand a.  e int ru der w ho’d le ft th eir
b ath in g s uit b eh in d. M arg e, M olly , a nd t he e nt ir e F B I .
I w as s o fo cu se d o n t h e d olp h in , I d id n’t no tice I w as n o lo ng er a lo ne u nt il
it w as to o l ate .
A r e � ectio n in th e g la ss s u dden ly ca ugh t m y e y e. So m eth ing b ig a nd bl ack
an d w hit e w as d ir e ctl y b eh in d m e.
A p an da b ea r.
I w hir le d a ro u n d, fe a rin g th at m ay be L i P ing h ad n’t be en sto le n at a ll bu t
had sim ply esca ped an d w as n ow lo ose in th e zo o. Lots o f p eo p le th ink o f
p an das a s b ein g d ocil e, li k e th ey ’r e g ia n t te d dy b ea rs. B ut th ey ca n act ually be
d an gero u s, s eein g a s th ey ’r e b ig a nd s tr o ng and h av e s harp t eeth a nd cl aw s.
N ow th at I w as lo okin g d ir e ctl y a t th e p and a, ra th er th an a re � ect io n, I
re a li z e d it w asn ’t L i P in g a t a ll. It w as o nl y s o m eo ne w ea ring th e z o o’s L i P ing
m asco t co stu m e.
I h ea v ed a h uge s ig h o f r e li e f. “Y o u s h ou ld n’t s n ea k u p o n peo p le li k e t h at,”
I g asp ed . “ Yo u s ca re d th e d ay li g h ts o ut o f m e.”
“ Y o u ou gh t to be sca re d , yo u li t tle bra t,” th e perso n in th e co stu m e
gro w le d .  e v oice w as d eep a nd o m ino us.
It w as o n ly th en th at I n otice d th e co stu m e w asn ’t co mple te . Ins te a d o f
w ea rin g th e o versiz e p aw s o n h is h an ds, t he m an w as w ea ring bl ack glo ves.
A nd o ne o f th ose h an ds w as p oin ting a g un a t m e.

AN GRY P A N DA
I r a is e d m y h ands a nd b ack ed u p a g ain st t h e g la ss o f t h e d olp h in ta n k.
 ere w as n o p la ce f o r m e t o r u n; I w as r ig h t o u t in th e o p en. I w as t e rri� ed —
an d y et, at t h e s a m e t im e, I w as s till h av ing t r o u bl e b eli e v ing t h at I w as be ing
t h re a te n ed b y a m an in a p an da co stu m e. A lo t o f s tr a n ge t h ing s h ad h ap pene d
to m e a t F un Ju n gle , b ut th is w as d e� ni te ly ne ar t he t op o f t he l is t.
“ W hat w ere y ou d oin g s noop in g a ro u nd the e xh ibi t? ” h e d em an ded .
“I w as ju st lo okin g at th e d olph ins ,” I re p li e d , tr y ing to re m ain calm .
“ at’s a ll!”
“ N ot th is e xh ib it !” t h e m an s n ap ped , li k e I w as a n id io t. “ e L i P ing o ne !
Pan da P ag o d a.”
“ P an da P ala ce ?”
“ W ho ca re s w hat it ’s ca lle d ? W hat w ere y ou looking for o ver t here ?”
“ I w asn ’t l ookin g f or a nyth in g!”
“ D on’t l ie to me! I saw y ou !”
I � ash ed b ack t o m y t im e a t t h e r a lly , re ca lli ng t h e p an da I ’d s e en clap ping
a lo n g w it h th e cr ow d o ver th ere . It m ust h av e be en th e sa m e p erso n who’d
s p otte d m e a nd th en f ollo w ed m e t o t he d olp h in t an k.
If so m eo n e w an te d to k eep ta bs o n what w as h ap peni ng at F unJ ung le ,
w ea rin g a m asco t co stu m e w as a gre a t w ay to d o it . Yo u co uld go alm ost
a n yw here in th e p ark w it h ou t any one q u estio ni ng w hy y o u w ere th ere —o r
who y o u a ctu ally w ere in sid e th e co stu m e. I h ad e v en worn a co stu m e m yse lf
b efo re , while in vestig atin g K azo o th e K oala ’s d is a p pea ra n ce . It w as am azing

how q u ick ly p eo p le sto p ped th in king o f y o u a s a fe llo w h um an a nd sta rte d
re g ard in g y ou a s a p ie ce of s ce nery .
B ut th ere w ere d is a d van ta g es to th e co stu m es a s w ell.  ey w ere h ot a nd
b u lk y a n d h ard to m ove in . Plu s, th e h ea d s m ad e th em to p -h ea v y a nd w ere
d iffi cu lt t o s e e o u t o f. In m ost, th e o nl y w ay t o s e e w as t h ro u gh t h e ch ara ct er’s
m ou th , w hich w as o ft e n an gle d d ow nw ard .  is m ad e it v ery h ard to lo ok
p eo p le in th e e y e. Even ch ild re n .  is s e em ed to b e th e ca se w it h th e L i P ing
co stu m e a s w ell. A t th e m om en t, m y a tt a ck er h ad h is h ea d tilt e d ba ck a t a n
aw kw ard a ngle s o h e co uld look a t m e.
I � gu re d if I w as g o in g to g et o u t o f th is , I h ad to u se th e co stu m e to m y
ad van ta g e.
O ut o f th e co rn er o f m y e y e, I co uld s e e T w ix w as s till a t th e g la ss be hind
m e. Sh e se em ed fa scin ate d b y th e g ia n t p an da.  ere w as a n ex tr e m ely g o od
ch an ce s h e’d n ev er s e en a p an da be fo re —o r a h um an dre sse d a s o ne . I h ad no
id ea if she k new w hat th e g un w as.
“ I w asn ’t sn oop in g,” I re p ea te d . “I sw ea r. I w as co ming o ver h ere and I
sto p ped to see w hat w as g oin g o n w it h t he r ally .”
“ Y o u w ere ta lk in g to a k eep er.”
“ O nly a b ou t t h e r a lly !  at’s a ll! A nd s h e ca me o ver t o m e . I w asn ’t lo okin g
fo r h er.”
“ D o n ot li e to m e, kid . I k n ow a ll a bo ut y o u —a nd y o u r h ab it o f g etting
in vo lv ed in th in gs th at s hou ld n’t c once rn y ou .”
“ I’m te lli n g y ou th e tr uth !” I p le a d ed .
“ at’s it .”  e p an da w ad dle d to w ard m e m ena cing ly . “N ow I’m g o nna
h av e to get m ea n .”
I cl en ch ed m y u pra is e d h an ds in to � sts , giv ing T w ix th e sig na l O li v ia h ad
ta u gh t m e th at m orn in g. In re sp ons e, Tw ix r o ck ete d to th e su rfa ce a nd sp it a
m ou th fu l o f w ate r o ver t h e t o p o f t h e w all. H er a im w as p erfe ct . Sh e na ile d t h e
ap pro ach in g p an da rig ht in his f ace .
If m y a tta ck er h ad n’t b een w ea ring a g ia n t p and a h ea d , he m ig h t h av e be en
te m pora rily bli n ded by th e su dden blast o f sa lt w ate r an d dolp h in sp it ,
a llo w in g m e to e sca pe. B ut th e h ea d n ow w ork ed to m y a d van ta g e a d iff ere nt
w ay. M y atta ck er d id n’t se e th e w ate r co ming at all. All h e k n ew w as th at
so m eth in g h ad s tr u ck h im . H e cra ned h is h ea d u pw ard , sta rtle d , tr y ing to s e e

what it w as, an d in d oin g s o , te m pora rily lo st h is b ala nce . H e t ilt e d ba ckward ,
w heeli n g h is a rm s to s te a d y h im se lf , w hich m ea n t th at, fo r a fe w s e co nd s, th e
gu n w as n o l on ger p oin te d a t m e.
I ch arg ed , d rivin g m y s hou ld er in to h is ch est.
 e s to m ach w as w ell p ad ded t o g iv e “ L i P ing ” a n ad ora b le p ot be lly , bu t I
s till h it it h ard e n ou gh to m ak e m y a tt a ck er g ru nt in pain. He to p p le d o ver
b ack ward , l an din g s pre a d -e a g le d o n t he ce ment .
He d id n’t le t g o o f t h e g u n , th ou gh . I w as h op ing h e w ou ld , so I co uld g ra b
it a n d to ss it in to th e d olp h in ta n k, bu t h e h eld o n tig h t. I d id n’t w ant to g et
in to a � gh t o ver it w it h h im still h old ing th e tr ig ger e nd , so I r a n fo r m y li f e
in ste a d , p ra y in g h e w ou ld n’t b e a ble t o g et ba ck up a ny tim e s oon i n t hat s uit .
A s I to ok o ff, I gav e T wix th e s ig n al f or o ne m ore s pit t ak e.
S h e h ap pily co mpli e d , b la stin g th e p and a o nce again.
 is tim e, so m e sa lt w ate r g o t in to th e g ap ing m ou th o f th e su it . I h ea rd
m y a tta ck er s p lu tte r a n grily . H e w as w rit h ing a ro u nd o n his b ack li k e a tu rtle
� ip ped o n it s s h ell, tr y in g to � gu re o u t h ow to g et o n h is fe et a g ain wit h th e
gia n t p an da h ea d w eig h in g h im dow n.
I ra ced a ro u n d th e ta n k a s fa st a s I co uld . B eca use it w as ci rcu la r, I d id n’t
h av e to go to o fa r b efo re th e u pend ed p an da h ad d is a p pea re d fr o m sig h t
aro u n d t h e cu rv e o f t h e g la ss w all.  at m ea n t I w as o u t o f bu lle t r a ng e, in ca se
h e w an te d t o t a k e a s h ot a t m e, bu t I d id n’t r e la x f o r a s e co nd . I k ep t r u nni ng,
scr ea m in g f or h elp a t th e to p o f m y l u ng s.
T w ix zip ped a lo n g t h e o p posit e s id e o f t h e g la ss, keep ing p ace w it h m e, li k e
th is w as a ll a g am e.
 e w alk w ay ro se b ack to th e sa m e le v el a s th e su rfa ce o f th e w ate r, and I
ca me to th e fa k e b ea ch w here th e g u ests e nt ere d th e ta n ks. I cl am be re d o ver
th e p ick et fe n ce an d ch arg ed acr oss th e sa n d to w ard th e o ffi ce s. I’d ne ver
th ou gh t th e b ea ch w as th at b ig , bu t no w th at m y li f e w as a t sta k e, it se em ed
e n dle ss.  e sa n d w as m uch h ard er to ru n on th an th e p av em ent h ad be en,
g ivin g m e t h e n ig h tm aris h f e eli n g o f s p inni ng m y le g s b u t no t g o ing a ny where
a t a ll.
O li via b u rst o u t o f th e ch eck -in b u ild ing , ale rte d b y m y y elli ng . N ick a nd
th e a ngry w om an f ollo w ed h er.

“W hat’s hap pen in g?” O li via ca ll e d ou t. “Is so m eth ing w ro ng w it h th e
dolp h in s?”
“ S o m eo n e’s tr yin g to shoot m e!” I told h er.
N ick , in an am azin g dis p la y of co ward ice , ra n rig h t back ins id e and
sla m med th e d oor.
 e an gry w om an d id n’t b u dge. S h e se em ed to th ink I w as a g ibbe ring
id io t.
O li via b ra v ely r a n t o w ard m e, co ming t o m y a id . Sh e le a p ed o ver t h e fe nce
fr o m t h e o th er s id e, d ash ed a cr oss t h e s a n d, gra b be d m y h and , and d ra g ged m e
to w ard th e s afe ty o f th e ch eck -in b uild ing .
Tw ix sk im med t h ro u gh t h e s h allo w s b y t h e be ach , ch atte ring h ap pily . A f e w
m ore d olp h in s ra ced o ver, n ot w ant ing to m is s o ut o n t he f un.
I ch an ce d a lo ok b ack b eh in d m e, bu t d id n’t se e an y sig n of th e gia nt
p an da.
“ W here ’d th is h ap pen ?” O li via ask ed a s w e r an .
“In th e u nderw ate r vie win g a re a ,” I g asp ed .
“W hat’d h e l ook l ik e?”
I p au se d b efo re a n sw erin g, kn ow ing w hat I w as a bo ut to sa y w as g o ing to
g et m e a str a n ge l ook. “ He w as d re sse d a s L i P ing .”
S u re en ou gh , Oli via gav e m e th e lo ok. Sh e alm ost sto p ped ru nni ng,
th in kin g th is w as a joke.
“ I’m n ot k id din g!” I t o ld h er, so s h e’d p ick u p t h e p ace a g ain. “H e’s w ea ring
t h e p ark ’s p an da m asco t co stu m e!”
W e re a ch ed th e fe n ce a t th e o th er e nd o f th e b ea ch , vau lt e d o ver it , and
d ash ed p ast t h e a n gry w om an i n to t h e ch eck -in bu ild ing .  an kfu lly , N ick h ad
fa ile d to lo ck th e d oor b eh in d h im . W e scr am ble d be hind th e sa fe ty o f th e
ch eck -in co un te r, o nly to �nd N ic k h uddle d t here .
H e s hrie k ed in fea r. “ Get a w ay f ro m m e! S om eo ne ’s t ry ing to k ill y ou !”
“ G et a g rip , yo u w een ie ,” O li via sna pped . Sh e th en pu lle d o u t h er p h one
an d d ia le d p ark s ecu rit y .
 ey p ro m ptly p ut h er o n h old .
 e a n gry w om an sto rm ed b ack ins id e, ev en more a nno yed n ow . “If y o u
th in k y o u ca n w ea se l o u t o f y o u r o bl ig atio ns b y p re te nd ing th ere ’s a cr is is ,
y o u’r e a ll d um ber th an I th ou gh t,” s he i nf orm ed u s.

“ is is n ’t pre te n d,” I to ld her. “ ere ’s re a lly so m eo ne dan gero u s ou t
th ere !”
“ In a g ia n t p an da co stu m e,” th e w om an re p ea te d d is d ainf ully . “S u re th ere
is .”
“ If I w as r e a lly g o in g to m ak e s o m eth ing u p,” I to ld h er, “d o y o u th ink I ’d
m ak e u p s om eth in g s o rid icu lo u s?”
“ If th is p an da’s so d an gero u s, how ’d y o u g et a w ay fr o m h im ?” th e w om an
a sk ed .
“I g ot a d olp h in to spit in his f ace ,” I said .
 is d id n ot h elp m ak e m y s to ry a n y m ore be li e v abl e.  e w om an g la re d a t
m e s te rn ly . “ Are y ou o n d ru gs, y ou ng m an ?”
M ea n w hile , N ick w as scra mbli n g a ro u nd th e sm all g if t sh op o n his h and s
an d k n ees. “W e’r e sit tin g d u ck s in here !” h e w aile d . “W e n eed so m eth ing to
d efe n d o u rse lv es.  .  . . A ha!” H e g ra b be d a la rg e p la stic to y d olp h in and t r ie d t o
w ie ld it li k e a b ase b all b at, bu t w hen he co cked it ba ck o ver h is sh ou ld er, it
s li p ped o ut o f h is s w ea ty h an ds a nd s aile d t hro u gh a w ind ow .
Park s e cu rit y m ust h av e p ick ed u p, beca use O li v ia s ta rte d s p ea k ing int o h er
p h on e. “ is is O li via P utn ey a t D olp h in Advent ure .  ere ’s a m an w it h a g u n
over h ere d re sse d a s a p an da. W e n eed a ll a v aila b le s e cu rit y h ere r ig h t a w ay.  . . .
Yes, th at’s r ig h t. D re sse d a s a p an da .  . . Yes, I’m s u re i t ’s no t a r e a l p and a w it h a
g u n . H ow w ou ld a p an da g et a g u n ? .  . . C an y o u ju st s e nd e v ery o ne y o u ca n?
Our l iv es a re in dan ger!”
N ick n ow ap pro ach ed a sm all aq u ariu m fu ll o f se a an em one s. “W ait a
m in ute !” h e e x cl aim ed . “ ese a re p ois o no us! If th e p an da co mes in here , w e
co uld th ro w th ese a t h im !”
 e a n gry w om an g la re d o u t t h e w ind ow , still r e fu sing t o b eli e v e t h ere w as
a n y r ea l d an ger. “ I d on’t s ee a ny p an da o ut t here .”
“ G et d ow n!” I w arn ed h er. “ I’m serio u s a bo ut a ll t his !”
“ If th ere w as re a lly a cra zy p erso n dre sse d as a p and a sta lk ing y o u , th en
th ere o u gh t t o b e a cra zy p erso n d re sse d a s a p and a o u t t h ere ,” t h e w om an sa id .
“B ut th ere ’s n ot. I know w hat a p and a l ooks l ik e. T ru st m e, t here i sn ’t o ne .”
O li via , N ick , an d I cra wle d o ver to th e w all, go t o n ou r k ne es, an d p eek ed
o u t th e w in dow .  e w om an s ta re d a t u s l ik e w e w ere m oro ns the e nt ir e t im e.
S h e w as rig ht, th ou gh .  ere w as no sig n o f t he a ngry p and a.

We sta y ed in th e ch eck -in b u ild ing , ju st to b e sa fe . W e w ait e d th ere u nt il
p ark se cu rit y sh ow ed u p.  e w om an be ra te d u s fo r v ario u s th ing s th e e nt ir e
tim e: W e w ere f o ols f o r h id in g f r o m a n im ag ina ry p and a a ssa ssin, we o u gh t t o
g et o u r d olp h in s ch eck ed fo r r a b ie s, J.J . M cC ra ck en ou gh t to co ugh u p a fe w
m illi o n d olla rs fo r h er h usb an d’s p ain and su ff ering , and a ll th e sna cks in th e
park w ere o verp rice d.
C hie f H oen ek ker le d th e se cu rit y br ig ad e. Eit h er th e F B I d id n’t n eed h is
s e rvice s a n ym ore , or t h is w as a b ig e no ugh e m erg ency t o r e q u ir e h is a tte nt io n.
 an kfu lly , he to ok m e s e rio u sly w hen I e x p la ine d w hat h ad h ap pene d.  en
h e t o ld u s t o r e m ain in t h e s a fe ty o f t h e o ffi ce w hile h e a n d h is t e a m s e a rch ed
D olp h in A dven tu re . W hen th ey ca me u p e m pty th ere , th ey sw ep t th e e nt ir e
p ark f or th e m an d re sse d a s a p and a.
 ey d id n’t � nd h im , th ou gh . O r t he co stu m e.
A ny s ig n o f m y a tta ck er h ad co mple te ly v ani sh ed .

QUEST IO NIN G
I h ad c o m e f a ce -to -fa ce w ith a lo t o f d an gero u s a n im als in m y li f e ,
b oth a t F un Ju n gle a n d in A fr ica , bu t I’d n ev er b een as sh ak en as I w as a ft e r
co nfr o n tin g th e m an in th e p an da s u it . B eca use th e a ni m als w ere ne ver be ing
m ali cio us; th ey w ere s im ply a n im als .  eir be hav io r, no m att e r h ow m ena cing ,
was pu re ly in stin ct. So m etim es, if th ey w ere ca rni vo re s, th ey m ig h t hav e
vie wed m e as a p ote n tia l m ea l, bu t m any tim es, th e ani m als w ere p ro ba bly
fe eli n g j u st a s th re a te n ed b y m e a s I w as b y t hem .
H ow ev er, th e m an in th e L i P in g co stu m e h ad n’t b een act ing o n ins tinct .
He h ad n’t co me a ft e r m e b eca use I w as f o od . H e h ad d one it be cause h e w as a
b ad p erso n , p ure a nd s im ple .
A ft e r m y r u n -in w it h h im , I ju st w ant ed to g o h om e. I w ant ed to be w it h
m y p are n ts , w here I ’d f eel s afe .
U nfo rtu n ate ly , M olly O ’M alle y w ou ld n’t le t m e. Sh e w ant ed to int erro gate
m e � rst. N ow t h at I ’d b een t a rg ete d , I w as p art o f h er inv estig atio n and h ad t o
b e q uestio n ed w hile th e e ven ts w ere s till f re sh in m y m ind .
So , at M olly ’s b eh est, C hie f H oene kker br ou gh t m e ba ck t o t h e t o p � oor o f
th e a d m in is tr a tio n b u ild in g.  is t im e, I g o t t o s it in th e co nfere nce r o om a nd
b e gril le d m yse lf . B eca use I w as a m ino r a nd o b vio u sly r a tt le d , M olly a llo w ed
m y p are n ts to jo in m e. W e sa t o n one sid e o f th e b ig co nfere nce ta bl e w hile
M olly a n d A gen t C hen s a t o n t h e o th er. A gent C hen to ok no te s o n a le g al p ad
a n d re co rd ed e v ery th in g w it h h is p h one a s w ell. I still h ad n’t h ea rd h im sa y a
sin gle w ord . I w as b eg in nin g to wond er i f h e w as m ute .

Hoen ek ker a nd a ll th e o th er F un Ju ng le s ecu rit y p eo p le w ere d is m is se d .
Ju an a n d G re g , th e d riv ers o f th e p and a tr u ck , w ere no lo ng er a ro u nd . I
�gu re d t h ey ’d � n ally b een a llo w ed t o le a v e, th ou gh w hen I a sk ed M olly a bo ut
it , s he to ld m e th at w asn ’t a ny o f m y bu sine ss.
 en s h e s a id , “M y t e a m h as r e vie wed t h e f o ota g e f r o m D olp h in Advent ure
a n d d ete rm in ed t h at y o u w ere t e lli ng t h e t r u th a b ou t be ing a tt a ck ed b y a m an
in a p an da s uit .”
“ O f co urse h e w as te lli n g th e tr u th !” M om e x cl aim ed . “T ed dy w ou ld n’t li e
a b ou t s om eth in g l ik e th at.”
“ M rs. Fit z ro y, I’m q u estio n in g y o u r so n, not y o u ,” M olly sa id ste rn ly . “If
y o u ca n’t a llo w m e to d o th at w it h ou t int err u ptio ns , th en I’l l h av e to a sk y o u
to l ea v e. D o y ou u ndersta n d?”
“ Y es,” M om agre ed s ulle n ly .
“ Y o u m ust a dm it th at T ed dy’s s to ry s ou nd ed bi za rre ?” M olly a sk ed h er.
“ T ed dy is n’t a lia r, A gen t O ’M alle y,” M om rep li e d .
M olly r e tu rn ed h er a tte n tio n t o m e. “A ft e r y o u k no cked o ver t h e p and a a nd
ra n a w ay, he d id n’t fo llo w y o u . In ste a d , he � ed v ia a se p ara te ex it fr o m th e
dolp h in a re a . W e’r e s till tr y in g to tr a ck h is m ovem ent s th ro u gh th e p ark a ft e r
th at, a lt h ou gh it ’s n ot e asy .”
“ W hy n ot? ” I a sk ed .
“It in vo lv es s if t in g t h ro u gh t h e f e ed s o f t h ou sa nd s o f s e p ara te ca mera s. A nd
w hile it n orm ally o u gh t to b e e a sy to tr a ck so m eo ne in a p an da su it , on th is
p articu la r d ay, th ere are a sta g gering nu mbe r of oth er p eo p le d re sse d li k e
p an das a t th e p ark .”
“ B ut th e L i P in g co stu m e is still d iff ere nt fr o m w hat th ose p eo p le are
w ea rin g,” I p oin te d o ut.
“ T ru e,” M olly co nce ded , “a n d y et, th ere a re e no ugh p eo p le w ea ring bl ack
a n d w hit e a n d fa ce p ain t a n d th ose rid icu lo u s p and a e a rs to m ak e th e jo b of
tr a ck in g y o u r a ssa ila n t q u it e d iffi cu lt .  ere fo re , any inf orm atio n yo u ca n giv e
u s w ou ld b e g re a tly a p pre cia te d . Fir st o f a ll, w hat ca n yo u te ll m e a bo ut y o u r
atta ck er?”
“ N ot m uch ,” I a n sw ere d . “I co uld n’t se e h im a t a ll in th e co stu m e. I o nl y
hea rd h im .”
“ W hat w as h is v oice lik e?” M olly p re sse d .

“V ery d eep .”
“ W as t h ere a n yth in g e ls e n ota b le a bo ut it ? W as it r a sp y o r g ra v elly ? D id h e
hav e a lis p o r s om e o th er s peech im ped im ent ?”
“ N o s peech im ped im en ts . B ut it w as k ind of g ra v elly , I guess.”
“ A nd y ou’r e o ne h un dre d p erce nt s u re i t w as a m an ?”
“ Y es.”
“ W as h e ta ll o r s hort? ”
 ere w ere q u it e a fe w F un Ju n gle ch ara ct ers th at w ere so sh ort, onl y li t tle
p eo p le co uld p la y th em : Larr y th e L iz a rd a nd Ka zo o th e K oala , fo r e x am ple .
B ut th e p erso n d re sse d a s L i P in g h ad loom ed o ver m e. “ Tall.”
“ H ow ta ll? ”
“ S ix f eet, m ay b e?”
“A nd w hy d id th is p erso n th re a te n y ou ?”
“ I d on’t k now .”
M olly l ea n ed f orw ard a cr oss th e t ab le a nd s aid , “ Yo u d on’t ?  ink abo ut i t.”
I d id . I tr ie d to re p la y th e ev en ts a t th e d olp h in ta n k o ver in my m ind ,
th ou gh to m y su rp ris e , th ey w ere a lr e a d y fa d ing . It a ll h ad h ap pene d q u ick ly ,
a n d I ’d b een v ery f rig h te n ed .
M om p u t h er h an d o n m in e. E ven th ou gh it w as a s m all g estu re , it ca lm ed
m e d ow n a n d h elp ed m e th in k.  e e v ent s ca me int o fo cu s. “H e th ou gh t I ’d
b een s noop in g a ro u n d th e p an da e x h ibi t.”
M olly a rch ed a n e yeb ro w . “ Yo u w ere n ’t ? ”
“ N o.”
“ T ell m e th e tr uth , T ed dy.”
“ I a m .”
“  is is a fe d era l in vestig atio n ,” M olly w arne d. “If y o u d on’t sto p p la y ing
g am es, I ’l l s hip y ou o ff to ju ven ile h all.”
N ow it w as m y f a th er w ho co uld n’t k eep h is s ile nce a n ym ore . “H e t o ld y o u
h e w asn ’t s noop in g! W hat p oin t is there i n ba dgering him abou t i t? ”
M olly tu rn ed on him an grily . “ e point , M r. Fit z ro y, is th at desp it e
r e p ea te d w arn in gs t o s te er cl ea r o f t h is inv estig atio n, yo u r s o n has co ntinu ed t o
m ed dle in it . A nd, fr o m w hat I u nd ersta n d, h e h as m ed dle d in se v era l p re v io u s
m yste rie s a t th is z oo a s w ell.”
“ T ed dy d id n’t m ed dle in th ose m yste rie s,” D ad co rre ct ed . “ He so lv ed th em .”

“W ell, it ’s m y jo b t o s o lv e t h is o n e, not h is ,” M olly s a id cu rtly . “E very t im e
Ted dy in te rfe re s, it m ak es m y j ob h ard er. N ow h e’s b een t hre a te ne d b y a h ostile
e le m en t fo r sn oop in g a ro u n d, and I’m su ppose d to be li e v e th at p erso n onl y
th ou gh t h e w as s noop in g?”
“  at’s th e tr u th ,” I p ro te ste d . “I h av en ’t be en inv estig ating a t a ll. I w as in
M om ’s o ffi ce rig h t u p u n til I w as a sk ed to g o to th e d olp h in ta n ks. A ll I d id
w as w alk b y P an da P ala ce o n th e w ay th ere , and th ere w as a ra lly a bo ut L i
Pin g, so I s to p ped t o w atch it .  en Chlo é D olk art, one o f t h e p and a k eep ers,
ca me o ver, a nd I ta lk ed to her a bou t t he r ally .  at’s w hen t he g uy i n t he p and a
costu m e s aw m e.”
“ Y o u’r e s ure a bou t th at? ” M olly a sk ed , s till s ou nd ing skep tica l.
“ P re tty su re ,” I re p li e d , th en re m em be re d so m eth ing . “I a ls o sa w so m eo ne
d re sse d a s L i P in g n ea r th e p an da tr u ck th is m orni ng ! R ig h t b efo re y o u g o t
h ere . M ay b e it w as th e s a m e p erso n! I ’l l be t n o o ne w as r e a lly s u pp ose d to be
d re sse d a s L i P in g to day, s in ce L i P ing wasn ’t e ven h ere . . . . ”
“ at m ak es se n se ,” M om p u t in . “ e p ark w ou ld n’t w ant m asco ts o u t
re p re se n tin g a n a nim al th at h ad b een s to le n. ”
“ e g u y m ust h av e s e en m e t h is m orni ng ,” I s a id . “ en he r e co gni ze d m e
at P an da P ala ce and f ollo w ed m e t o D olp h in A dvent ure .”
“ S o y o u r id ea is w hat, exa ctl y?” M olly inq uir e d . “ at t h is g u y w as h ang ing
o u t in a sto le n L i P in g co stu m e, j ust i n ca se s om eo ne ca me s noop ing aro u nd ?”
“ Y es. If y o u w an t t o k eep a n e y e o n th ing s h ere , a m asco t co stu m e is a g re a t
w ay t o d o it . Peo p le f o rg et t h ere ’s a h um an in sid e a n d s a y t h in gs r ig h t in fr o n t
of y ou . I know b eca use I w ore o ne o nce .”
M olly l ooked to my p are n ts , a ppare nt ly u ns ure i f s he s hou ld be li e v e t his .
“ It’s tr ue,” M om said .
M olly ta p ped h er � n gers o n th e ta b le th ou gh tfu lly , th en to ld A gent C hen,
“ T ext H oen ek ker. S ee if all th e L i P ing co stu m es a re a cco unt ed f or.”
A gen t C hen n od ded a nd d utif u lly s ent the t ex t.
“ B y th e w ay,” I sa id , “w hen I w as a t P an da P ala ce , C hlo é D olk art sa id no
o n e f ro m th e F B I h ad co me to talk to her y et.”
“ W hy w ou ld w e ta lk to a p an da k eep er?” M olly a sk ed .
“B eca use s h e k n ow s a w hole lo t a bo ut p an das. M ay be s h e k no ws s o m eth ing
t h at m ig h t b e h elp fu l to th e ca se .”

Molly t h ou gh t s o li t tle o f t h is s u gg estio n, sh e d id n’t e v en both er t o r e sp ond
to it . In ste a d , sh e o p en ed h er la p to p co mpu te r a nd b ro u gh t u p a v id eo � le .
“ T ed dy, I w an t y ou to lis te n to th is a nd then t ell m e i f i t’s t he v oice you h ea rd .”
“ A gen t O ’M alle y,” M om s a id , “I a p olo giz e f o r int err u pting , bu t T ed dy h as a
p oin t. Chlo é m ig h t kn ow so m e inf orm atio n th at co uld be im porta nt to
r e co verin g L i P in g.”
M olly m ad e n o atte m pt to h id e h er an no yan ce . “ I w ill d ecid e w hat is
im porta n t i n t h is ca se , n ot y o u . A nd w hat i s i m porta n t r ig h t n ow i s i d ent if y ing
T ed dy’s a tta ck er. If w e ca n do t h at, it m ig h t g iv e u s a le a d t o w ho is be hind L i
Pin g’s k id n ap pin g. S o T ed dy, l is te n. ”
Sh e p la y ed th e � le . A d eep v o ice s p oke. It s o u nd ed li k e s o m eo ne m ak ing a
s p eech to a g ro u p o f p eo p le . “ e N atu re F re ed om F orce is co mmit te d to th e
ab oli t io n o f a ll z oos, e very w here , no exce ptio ns .”
“  at’s n ot th e v oice I h ea rd ,” I said .
“Y o u’r e s ure ?” M olly a sk ed . “ Lis te n t o s om e m ore .”
S h e p la y ed a n oth er cl ip : “W e m ust b e w illi ng to d o w hate v er it ta k es to
a cco mpli s h th is g oal!”
 e ch eers o f th e p eo p le l is te n in g f ollo w ed .
I s h ook m y h ea d . “ at d e� n it e ly w asn ’t th e s a m e p erso n. Was th at C arlo s
G om ez?”
M olly lo oked u p a t m e in s u rp ris e .  en her g aze h ard ene d. “Y o u s a w th at
in th e m ob ile u nit , d id n’t y ou ?”
I s hra n k u nder h er g la re , w hich gav e m e a w ay.
M olly g re w even m ore a nnoyed .
“W ait ,” D ad s aid . “ Was th e N FF b eh in d L i P in g’s k id n ap pin g?”
“  at’s cl assi� ed ,” M olly r ep li e d s harp ly .
“ I d on’t th in k th ey d id it, ” I said .
M olly ’s g aze g re w even h ard er. “ I’m no t a sk ing for y ou r o pini on. ”
“It ju st d oesn ’t m ak e s e n se ,” I co ntinu ed . I k ne w s h e d id n’t w an t m e t o s a y
it , b ut I n eed ed to . I’d h ad th e id ea all d ay, an d I p ro b ab ly w ou ld n’t g et a no th er
ch an ce to s h are it . “ e w hole r e a so n th e N FF w an ts to s h ut d ow n z o os is to
k eep a n im als f r o m b ein g in ca ptiv it y . So w hy w ou ld t h ey s te a l o ne a nd h old it
h osta g e?”
“ F or m on ey,” M olly s aid , l ik e it w as o bvio u s.

“A nd th en th ey ’l l g iv e th e p an da rig h t ba ck to th e z o o?” I a sk ed . “G om ez
ju st s aid th ey w an te d z oos a boli s h ed .”
“ I ca n’t e xp la in w hat th ey ’r e th in king ,” M olly to ld m e. “B ut I d o k no w a ll
m y e vid en ce poin ts to th e N FF .”
“ A ll y ou h av e is a � ngerp rin t f ro m the r an so m no te ,” I p oint ed o ut.
“ W e h av e tw o d oz en � n gerp rin ts fr o m th e ra n so m n ote ,” M olly sa id , an d
th en se em ed a n noyed th at I ’d g o tte n her to e v en ad m it th at m uch . “A nd a s I
sa id , th is is n’t o pen f or d is cu ssio n. ”
“Y o u h av e tw o d oze n � n gerp rin ts o n one p ie ce o f p ap er?” I a sk ed . “ at’s
w eir d , is n’t it? ”
Molly ig n ore d m e a n d r e tu rn ed h er a tte nt io n to h er la p to p . “I w an t t o p la y
an oth er s ou n d � le f or y ou  . . . ”
I d id n’t b ack d ow n, th ou gh . “G om ez d id n’t le a v e o ne � ng erp rint in th e
en tir e p an da tr u ck , an d th en h e le a v es tw o d oze n on th e ra n so m no te ?  at
se em s id io tic. ”
“Ju st b ec a u se so m eo n e is a te rro ris t d oesn ’t m ea n th ey ’r e a g eni us,” M olly
s n ap ped . “ And e ven g en iu se s m ak e m is ta k es.”
“ It ju st so u n ds li k e so m eo n e’s tr y ing to fr a m e th e N FF ,” I to ld h er. “L ik e
m ay b e th ey sto le a p ie ce o f p ape r fr o m C arlo s G om ez and u se d it fo r th e
ra n so m note to th ro w y ou o ff.”
“ T ed dy h as a p oin t,” M om p ip ed u p, una ble to h old h er to ng ue a ny more .
“ It w ou ld n’t b e th e � rst tim e a cr im ina l h as tr ie d to fr a m e a n a ni m al rig h ts
g ro u p f or s om eth in g h ere .”
M olly d id n’t b rin g u p th e n ext so u nd � le . In ste a d , sh e sta re d a t a ll o f u s.
H er � n ger s lo w ly t a p ped o n t h e co nfere nce t a b le li k e a m etr o no me, �lli ng t h e
un co mfo rta b le sile n ce in th e ro om . It se em ed a s th ou gh M olly h ad re a li z e d I
m ig h t b e rig ht, b ut d id n’t w an t to adm it i t.
E ven tu ally s h e a sk ed m e, “A nd w ho, pra y t e ll, do y o u t h ink co nco cted t h is
e la b ora te se tu p?”  ere w as a m ock ing to ne to h er v o ice , li k e sh e w as to ying
w it h m e.
“ W ell,” I sa id ca re fu lly , “y o u su ggeste d so m e o th er o f p ossibi li t ie s y o u rse lf .
A nim al tra ffick ers. O r s om eo n e w it h a g ru dge a gains t t he C hine se —”
“ I k n ow w hat I s a id ,” M olly i n te rr u pte d . “I’m a sk ing y o u w ho yo u t h in k d id
it , s mart g uy.”

I sw allo w ed h ard , un se ttle d u n der M olly ’s h arsh g aze . But th en bo th m y
pare n ts lo oked a t m e s u pportiv ely , bols te ring m y co n� dence . “W alt e r O gilv y,”
I s aid .
“ e b illi o n air e ?” M olly l au gh ed d eris iv ely . “ W hy w ou ld h e s te a l a p and a?”
“ T o h urt J .J . M cC ra ck en ,” I t o ld h er. “ ey h ate e a ch o th er. O gilv y cl aim s
J.J . sto le t h e id ea f o r F un Ju n gle f r o m him , ev en t h ou gh J .J . did n’t . O gilv y e v en
tr ie d to sab ota g e F un Ju n gle o nce a lr e a d y.”
“  at s till h asn ’t b een p ro ven ,” M olly co unt ere d .
“O nly b eca use O gilvy h as th e cl ou t to s lo w d ow n th e ju stice s y ste m ,” D ad
sa id , no lo n ger a b le t o h old h is t o ng ue e it h er. “A m an w ho w ork ed fo r o ne o f
h is sh ell co rp ora tio n s tr ie d to d estr o y S h ark E nco unt er—a nd T ed dy alm ost
d ie d a s a resu lt !”
“ S te a li n g L i P in g is ev en w orse fo r F unJ ung le th an sa b ota g ing th e sh ark
ta n k,” I exp la in ed . “F ir st, it m ak es th e p ark lo ok te rribl e.  en milli o ns o f
d olla rs th at J.J . sp en t to b rin g L i P ing h ere an d bu ild a p an da ex h ibi t and
ad vertis e it g o t o w aste . A nd it ’l l co st F unJ ung le m illi o ns m ore w hen ev ery o ne
w ho w as co min g t o s e e t h e p an da h ere ca nce ls t h eir t r ip s. P lu s, J.J . h as a t o n of
b u sin ess in te re sts in Chin a th at co uld a ll b e j eo p ard iz e d be cause o f t his .”
M om rea cte d to th is l ast o ne in surp ris e . “ How d o y ou k now that? ”
“ S o m e w om an fr o m th e C hin ese C ons ula te w as h ere e a rli e r to d ay,” I sa id .
“S h e to ld J .J. h e’d b e in a lot o f tr ou bl e i f h e d id n’t g et L i P ing ba ck.”
“  at’s exa ctl y w here yo u r arg u m ent fa lls ap art,” M olly to ld m e. “ e
pan da is b ein g h eld fo r r a n so m . W hich m ea n s w hoev er t o ok it e x p ect s t o g iv e
it b ack . W hich won’t d am ag e J .J.’s b usine ss d ea li ng s a t a ll.”
“ U nle ss th ey d on’t re a lly in te n d to g iv e it b ack ,” I a rg u ed . “If th e w hole
r a n so m th in g is ju st a sca m to m ak e it lo ok li k e th e N FF is r e sp on sib le , th en
O gilvy w ou ld n’t r ea lly ca re a bou t r e tu rni ng Li P ing to u s.”
“ W hich w ou ld b e ev en w orse fo r J.J . M cC ra ck en and F unJ ung le ,” D ad
co ncl uded .
M olly s ta re d a t u s a ll o n ce m ore , h er � ng er t a p ping o n th e co nfere nce t a bl e.
“ It w ou ld ,” s h e s a id � n ally . “A lt h ou gh t h ere ’s o ne m ore � aw i n yo u r a ccu sa tio n.
So fa r, th ere h asn ’t b een o n e sh re d o f e v id ence a g ains t W alt e r O gilv y —w hile
t h ere is ple n ty a gain st C arlo s E dw ard G om ez a nd t he N FF .”
“ Y o u m ea n th e � ngerp rin ts ?” I a sk ed .

“ ose — an d th e ca r th at d u m ped D oc in th e p ark ing lo t,” M olly re p li e d .
“W e f o u n d f o ota g e o f i t a n d g o t t h e li ce ns e p la te . It w as r e g is te re d t o G om ez a s
w ell.”
 is w as n ew s to m e, bu t I r a lli e d o n. “Y o u r e a lly th ink G om ez w ou ld u se
h is o wn ca r to do s om eth in g l ik e t hat? M ay be som eo ne sto le i t. . . . ”
“O r m ay b e all th e evid en ce is co rre ct , and th ere ’s no t so m e cr azy
co nsp ir a cy ,” M olly sa id d is m is siv ely . “Y o u r sta n dard cr im ina l is n ’t th at sm art.
 ey m ak e d u m b m is ta k es all th e tim e. And it ap pea rs G om ez h as m ad e
ple n ty .”
I notice d th at ev en m y pare n ts se em ed dau nt ed by th is la st pie ce of
evid en ce . O r a t le a st, th ey w ere n ’t a rg u ing m y sid e a ny more . I m ad e o ne la st
a tte m pt t o p ro te st, bu t M olly cu t m e o ff . “Y o u’v e h ad y o u r s a y, T ed dy. N ow it ’s
t im e to get b ack to busin ess. L is te n t o t his cl ip .”
S h e p la y ed it . It, to o, so u n ded li k e s o m eo ne w as m ak ing a s p eech a t a r a lly :
“S o w hat if t h e g o vern m en t h as a p ro bl em w it h o u r m eth od s? W e n eed t o � gh t
fo r th e a nim als !”
I t w as a d eep a n d g ra v elly v o ice .  e e x act s a m e a s th e m an dre sse d a s th e
pan da.
M olly co uld t e ll I r e co gn iz e d it ju st b y w atch ing m y fa ce . “ at’s h im , is n ’t
i t ? ”
“ I’m pre tty s ure ,” I a dm it te d . “ W ho i s i t? ”
“ H is n am e is J a m es V an A m bu rg . A nd h e’s a ls o o ne o f th e fo u nd ers o f th e
N FF .”
M olly t u rn ed h er co mpu te r a ro u n d s o I co uld s e e t h e s cr een.  e cl ip s h e’d
p la y ed w as a vid eo . It w as n ow p au se d o n th e fa ce o f J a m es V an A m bu rg . H e
was a ta ll, m uscu la r g u y w it h a b ald h ea d a n d sh ou ld ers a s w id e a s a C ap e
bu ff alo ’s h orn s. H e d id n’t lo ok t h at m ea n in th e p ict ure , bu t k n ow ing t h at h e’d
t h re a te n ed m y l if e e arli e r th at d ay m ad e h im seem very s ca ry .
“ Y et an oth er pie ce of co ncr ete ev id ence ag ains t th e N FF ,” M olly sa id
p ro u dly . “A nd n ot a p ie ce o f p ap er o r a ca r t h at co uld h av e be en sto le n, but a n
a ctu al h um an b ein g f ro m th at o rg an iz a tio n. ”
 ere w as a k nock at th e co nfe re n ce room door.
“ W e’r e in th e m id dle o f s om eth in g i m porta n t,” M olly s aid .

“It’s C hie f H oen ek ker,” ca me th e re p ly . “I h av e so m e inf orm atio n abo ut
th at p an da co stu m e.”
“ C om e in ,” M olly sa id , an d H oene kker d id . H e no dded br usq u ely to m y
pare n ts an d m e. It se em ed li k e h e w as em ba rr a sse d to be se en re p orting to
M olly in fro n t o f u s.
“  at w as f ast,” M olly to ld h im .
“I w as a lr e a d y lo o kin g in to it w hen I g o t y o u r te x t,” H oene kker e x p la ine d.
“I � gu re d it m ig h t b e a le a d . Acco rd ing to P ete  wack er, no o ne h as be en
a u th oriz e d t o p ose a s L i P in g in t h e p ark y et. J.J . fe lt it w ou ld be in poor t a ste
to h av e a n yo n e a ctin g li k e L i P ing b efo re L i P ing w as a ct ually h ere . So th e L i
Pin g co stu m es a re s u ppose d t o s till b e in sto ra g e. Fiv e w ere o rd ere d . W e li k e t o
h av e m ult ip le s in ca se a ny o f th em are co mpro m is e d .”
“ C om pro m is e d ?” M olly r ep ea te d .
“ ey g et d am ag ed a lo t,” H oen ek ker e x p la ine d. “ e a ct ors fa ll d ow n and
d en t t h e h ea d s. O r a g u est s p ills f o od o n one a nd s ta ins i t . A nd , ap pare nt ly , th e
acto rs h av e b een k now n to vom it i ns id e t hem .”
M olly a nd A gen t C hen b oth m ad e f ace s o f d is g u st.
“ It g ets v ery h ot in sid e th em ,” M om sa id . “ e h ea t ca n m ak e th e a ct ors
sick .”
M olly r e tu rn ed h er a tte n tio n t o H oene kker. “L et m e g u ess: A ll � ve s u it s a re
n o l on ger a cco un te d f or.”
H oen ek ker tu rn ed p in k a ro u n d th e e a rs in em ba rr a ss m en t. “ at’s co rre ct.
A t s o m e p oin t a ft e r t h e co stu m es w ere d eli v ere d , an e m plo yee a t t h e s to re ro om
d is co vere d o ne w as m is sin g.”
“ A nd y ou d id n’t k now abou t th is ?” M olly a sk ed a ccu sing ly .
“  is is a v ery b ig p ark , an d in ci dent s o ccu r h ere e v ery d ay,” H oene kk er
sa id d efe n siv ely . “I ca n’t b e in fo rm ed o f ev ery sing le th ing th at g o es w ro ng .
 ere w asn ’t e v en a n y p ro of th at th e co stu m e w as sto le n; mere ly th at it w as
m is sin g. It m ig h t h av e b een m is p la ce d. So , it w as r e p orte d to s e cu rit y , and a n
o ffi ce r w as d is p atch ed t o d ea l w it h it  .  . . bu t t h e inv estig atio n fa ile d t o t u rn up
an yth in g.”
“ W ho w as th e o ffi ce r?” M olly a ske d.
H oen ek ker fr o w ned , as th ou gh h e k ne w th e ans wer w asn ’t go ing to be
ap pre cia te d b y a nyo n e. “ Marjo rie O ’M alle y,” h e s aid .

SA BO TA G E
“W hat i s m on key-w re n ch in g?” I ask ed .
M y p are n ts b oth looked a t m e, in tr ig u ed .
“W here ’d y ou h ea r a bou t th at? ” D ad a sk ed .
“C arlo s G om ez w en t to jail f or it, ” I e xp la ine d.
W e w ere w alk in g back hom e th ro u gh FunJ ung le . Since th e day s w ere
g ettin g lo n ger, th e p ark w as s ta y in g o p en much la te r t h an in th e w int er. It w as
� ve o ’cl ock an d th e p ark w as still p ack ed w it h to u ris ts ; in fa ct , m ore w ere
s h ow in g u p, m ostly lo ca ls co ming b y fo r th e e v eni ng . For m e, th ou gh , it h ad
b een a v ery l on g d ay, a nd m y p are nt s a nd I w ere a ll b ea t.
T w o F un Ju n gle se cu rit y g u ard s fo llo w ed u s.  eir na mes w ere M arcu s a nd
Je th ro .  ey w ere b ig , im posin g g u ys, an d J .J . h ad o rd ere d t h em t o k eep a n ey e
o n m e. “S o m eo n e’s g o t it in fo r y o u ,” h e’d to ld m e. “M ay be th ey w ere ju st
tr y in g to sca re y o u o ff , bu t I’d ra th er n ot ta k e a n y ch an ce s.” H e h ad o rd ere d
th e g u ard s t o s ta y p oste d a ro u n d o u r h ou se a ll n ig h t, on th e a le rt fo r a ny s ig n
o f tr ou ble .
N orm ally , I w ou ld h av e e xp ecte d M om to p ro te st so m eth ing li k e th is ; sh e
did n’t li k e acce ptin g fa v o rs fr o m J.J . But to d ay sh e h ad n’t .  at m ea nt sh e
th ou gh t th e e xtra pro te ctio n w as a g ood id ea , w hich m ad e m e ne rv o u s.
“ M on key -w re n ch in g is s a b ota g e f o r e nv ir o nm ent al r e a so ns ,” M om t o ld m e.
“ S o m etim es, when g ro u ps h av e se en no o th er o p tio n to p ro te ct w ild li f e o r
en dan gere d h ab it a ts , th ey h av e r eso rte d t o i t.”
“ L ik e w hat? ” I a sk ed .

“It c o u ld b e a n yth in g,” M om s a id . “L ik e p u tt ing ir o n sp ik es in tr e es s o t h at
lu m berja ck s ca n’t sa w th em dow n. Or pou ring su gar in th e gas ta nk s of
b u lld oze rs. B ut it g o t it s n am e f r o m t h e a ct o f t h ro w ing m onk ey w re nch es int o
hea vy m ach in ery . If y o u d estr o y s o m eo ne ’s co nstr u ct io n eq u ip m ent , th en th ey
ca n’t te ar d ow n a fore st.”
“ O r y o u a t le a st d ela y t h em f r o m t e a ring d ow n t h e f o re st f o r a w hile ,” D ad
p u t in .
“D o y ou k now w hat C arlo s G om ez g ot bu ste d f or?” I a sk ed .
“H e a tta ck ed a z o o in W yo m in g,” D ad a n sw ere d . “ ey w ere h old ing s o m e
wolv es t h ere a n d h e s e t t h em f r e e. In h is d efe ns e, it w as a s m all, poorly r u n zo o
an d th ey a ppare n tly w ere n ’t ta kin g v ery g ood ca re o f t he a nim als .”
“  ere is n ev er a n y d efe n se fo r s a bo ta g e,” M om s a id co olly , th en tu rne d t o
m e. “ It’s a gain st th e l aw .”
“  ose w olv es w ou ld h av e d ie d if it w asn ’t f or C arlo s,” D ad t old h er.
“ W e d on’t k n ow t h at f o r s u re ,” M om a rg u ed . “A nd w hat C arlo s d id w as s till
a c rim e. Su ch b eh avio r m ig h t h av e sh ort- te rm g ains , bu t it u lt im ate ly m ak es
th e w hole an im al rig h ts m ovem ent lo ok li k e a bu nch of ra d ica ls and
tr o u ble m ak ers. W hich doesn ’t d o a ny of u s a ny good .”
“ It d oes th e a nim als s om e g ood , th ou gh ,” D ad s aid p oint ed ly .
 ere w as so m eth in g in th eir co nv ersa tio n th at str u ck m e a s o d d. “D ad ,
h av e yo u e ver d on e a ny m on key -w re n ch ing ?”
“ O f co urse n ot,” h e s a id , bu t h e h ad a g u ilt y s m ile . “L ik e y o u r m oth er s a id ,
it ’s a gain st th e l aw .”
“ L ooks li k e th e ra lly ’s o ver,” M om sa id , ob vio u sly tr y ing to ch ang e th e
su bje ct.
W e w ere p assin g P an da P ala ce . It w as m uch q u ie te r t h an it h ad b een ea rli e r
in th e d ay.  e cr ow ds h ad d is p erse d .  e P an daM an ia cs h ad eit h er go ne
h om e, or g ro w n tir e d o f m op in g aro u nd th e em pty ex h ibi t an d le ft to d o
so m eth in g m ore in te re stin g.
“H oen ek ker se n t so m e o f h is g u ys o ver h ere to b re a k th e ra lly u p,” D ad
exp la in ed . “S aid th ey w ere d is tu rbi ng th e p ea ce .” H e lo oked to m e. “Is th is
w here y ou s aw Jam es V an A mbu rg ?”
“ Y es.” I p oin te d to th e e n tr a n ce o f P an da P ala ce . “ e r a lly w as o ver th ere ,
a n d J am es w as b y th ose tr ees w it h s om e o th er m asco ts .”

“B oy,” M om sa id , “M arg e is re a lly in hot w ate r fo r not �nd ing th at
co stu m e.”
“ G ood ,” I said , a lit tle m ore h arsh ly t han I int end ed . “ Sh e d ese rv es i t.”
“ H old o n n ow ,” M om ca utio n ed . “I k no w w e’v e all h ad o u r is su es w it h
M arg e b efo re , b ut l oca tin g th at co stu m e w ou ld n’t h av e be en e asy .”
“ A lt h ou gh  . . . , ” D ad b eg an , b ut t hen s eem ed t o r eco nsid er a nd s to p p ed .
“A lt h ou gh w hat? ” M om ask ed .
D ad gla n ce d b ack to w ard M arcu s an d Je th ro to se e if th ey w ere cl ose
e n ou gh to o verh ea r u s.  ey w ere g iv ing u s o u r sp ace , th ou gh , so h e sa id ,
“ ere ’s a lw ay s th e p ossib ili t y th at M arg e d id n’t e ven tr y to �nd th e co stu m e.”
“ Y o u m ea n , s he j u st d id n’t b oth er?” I a sk ed .
“E r  .  . . no,” D ad sa id . “I m ea n , may be sh e w as inv olv ed w it h it s
d is a p pea ra n ce in th e � rst p la ce .”
M om g ap ed a t h im . “Ja ck ! Y o u’r e a ct ually s u ggesting M arg e w as c o nne cted
to th e p an da-n ap pin g?”
“ I a m .”
“  ere ’s n o w ay,” M om sa id . “M arg e is w ay to o co mmit te d to h er jo b to
b re a k th e l aw .”
“  at’s r ig h t,” I a g re ed . A ft e r a ll, w hy w ou ld M arg e a sk m e t o h elp h er � nd
th e p an da th ie f if she w as th e th ie f h erse lf ?
“  in k a b ou t it ,” D ad s a id . “M arg e h old s a g ru dge lo ng er t h an a n yo ne I ’v e
ev er m et— an d I’l l b et sh e h as a b ig o ne a g ains t J.J . A nd m ay be H oene kker,
t o o. A ft e r a ll, J.J . dem ote d h er fr o m h er jo b ru nni ng s e cu rit y —a nd th en gav e
it to Hoen ek ker.”
“ S o y o u th in k sh e d ecid ed to h elp ste a l th e p and a to m ak e th em a ll lo ok
b ad ?” M om ask ed d ou btfu lly .
“ O r m ay b e s h e d id it fo r a cu t o f t h e r a n so m m one y,” D ad s u ggeste d . “S h e
w as su ppose d to � n d th e p an da co stu m e, bu t sh e n ev er d id . And sh e w as
su ppose d t o g u ard t h e a ctu al p an da, bu t s o m eh ow , it w as s to le n on her w atch .
 at’s a w fu lly s usp icio us.”
“ Y es,” M om o w ned , “b u t y o u’r e fo rg etting so m eth ing im porta n t: M arg e is
co mple te ly in co mpete n t. If s h e w as r e a lly g o ing t o be inv olv ed w it h s te a li ng L i
Pin g, it n ev er w ou ld h av e w ork ed o ut t his w ell.”

“I’m n ot sa y in g sh e w as th e b ra in s o f th e o p era tio n, ” D ad ins is te d . “O nly
th at s h e m ig h t h av e b een in vo lv ed . Su ppose s o m eo ne f r o m t h e N FF a sk ed h er
to h elp k id n ap t h e p an da. H er p art is n ’t v ery d iffi cu lt : D on’t � nd w hoev er s to le
t h e p an da co stu m e. A nd p re te n d n ot t o n otice w hen th e k id na ppers a tta ck t h e
tr u ck d u rin g th e d riv e. B asica lly , a ll sh e h ad to d o w as p erfo rm p oorly a t h er
jo b, w hich is w hat s he d oes h ere o n a reg u la r ba sis .”
I c o n sid ere d a rg u in g th at m y fa th er w as w ro ng , bu t I d id n’t . For s ta rte rs, I
co uld n’t r e v ea l t h at M arg e w as b la ck maili ng m e int o inv estig ating ; m y p are nt s
wou ld im med ia te ly te ll J .J ., an d M arg e w ou ld re le a se th e fo ota g e o f S u m mer.
B ut s o m eth in g e ls e h eld m e b ack : M y f a th er h ad a g o od p oint .  e w hole t im e
I’d k n ow n M arg e, sh e’d b een a w fu lly v ind ict iv e t o w ard m e, an d a ll I ’d d one t o
d ese rv e it w as p la y a fe w p ra n ks o n her. M ea n w hile , J.J . an d H oene kk er h ad
co st h er a jo b a n d g re a tly e m barra sse d h er. It no w o ccu rre d to m e th at th ere
w as a n oth er r e a so n M arg e m ig h t h av e w an te d m e t o s no op a ro u nd t h e ca se : to
� n d o u t if h er s is te r w as o n to h er. A ft e r a ll, her o nl y p la n s o fa r h ad be en fo r
m e to in�lt r a te th e F B I m ob ile u nit a nd s ee w hat in fo rm atio n t hey ’d lea rne d.
M arg e h ad n’t co me to m e u n til a ft e r h er sis te r h ad a rriv ed a t F un Ju n gle .
P erh ap s sh e h ad th ou gh t sh e w as g o ing to g et a w ay w it h th e p an da-na pping ,
th en fr e a k ed o u t w hen M olly sh ow ed u p, kno wing M olly w ou ld d o a ny th ing
t o tra ck dow n th e crim in al— ev en i f i t w as h er o wn s is te r.
M om h ad fa lle n s ile n t h erse lf , givi ng D ad ’s th eo ry s o m e co nsid era tio n. We
were n ea rin g th e e m plo yee e xit at th e re a r o f F un Ju n gle . U ntil re ce ntly , ou r
h om e h ad b een cl ose b y, bu t n ow th e p la ce w here o u r tr a ile r—a nd th e r e st o f
em plo yee h ou sin g— had b een w as t h e fu tu re s it e o f t h e W ild s. J.J . w asn ’t e v en
tr y in g to h id e th e co nstr u ctio n: H e w an te d g u ests to s e e th at r id es w ere b eing
b u ilt , so t h ey ’d g et a ll e x cite d a n d r e tu rn when th e n ew a re a o p ene d. A w ood en
w all r a n a cr oss t h e p ath t h at w ou ld s e rv e a s t h e f u tu re e nt ra n ce t o t h e W ild s; it
w as gaily p ain te d w it h re p re se n ta tio ns o f th e rid es-to -b e, alo ng w it h h ole s
w here y ou co uld p eek th ro u gh a nd w atch the co nstr u ct io n u nderw ay.
M om g la re d a t th e co nstr u ctio n s it e , th e w ay s h e d id e v ery tim e w e p asse d
it .
I s a id , “If M arg e i s r e a lly i n vo lv ed , d o y o u t h ink M olly w ou ld a ct ually a rre st
h er?”

“M olly alr e a d y d id arre st h er,” M om poin te d ou t. “T od ay aft e r M arg e
fo rce d y ou to snea k in to th e m obi le u ni t f or h er.”
“  at w asn ’t a r e a l a rre st,” D ad t o ld u s. “I t h ink M olly o nl y cu ffed M arg e t o
s h ow s h e m ea n t b u sin ess. H oen ek ker w ork ed o u t s o m e d ea l to g et M arg e o ff .
Sh e h as to k eep cl ea r o f th e in vestig atio n—a nd sh e’s ba rre d fr o m ca rr y ing a
w ea p on a nym ore . N ot e ven a T ase r.”
“ H oen ek ker s hou ld h av e d on e th at m ont hs a go ,” M om put i n.
“H ow ev er, if M arg e tr u ly tu rn ed o u t to be inv olv ed in a se rio u s crim e li k e
th is ,” D ad w en t o n , “I’m su re M olly w ou ld m ak e su re sh e w as p ro se cu te d fo r
it .  ere d oesn ’t se em to b e m uch aff ect io n betw een th ose tw o. And M olly
s e em s v ery co mmit te d to her j ob.”
“ B ut li k e y o u sa id , M arg e w ou ld n’t b e th e b ra ins be hind th e o p era tio n, ” I
sa id .
“M arg e is n’t th e b ra in s o f a nyth ing ,” D ad r ep li e d .
“S o w ho is ?” I ask ed . “D o yo u th in k th e N FF is beh in d th e pan da-
n ap pin g?”
M om a n d D ad s h are d a lo ok, as t h ou gh t h ey w ere t r y ing t o � gu re o u t h ow
m uch t o s a y t o m e.  en D ad s a id , “I s h are t h e s a m e co nce rns a b ou t t h e N FF
th at yo u d o.  is d oesn ’t se em li k e th eir sty le . And th ey ’r e a sm all, ca sh -
str a p ped o p era tio n . I d on’t t h in k t h ey h av e t h e f u n ds o r t h e s k ill t o h it a t r u ck
w hile it ’s m ovin g d ow n th e h ig h w ay.”
“ B ut J am es V an A mbu rg th re a te n ed T ed dy t od ay,” M om said .
“T ed dy d id n’t a ctu ally se e Ja m es,” D ad co un te re d . “H e o n ly s a y s th e v o ice s
so u n ded th e s am e.  ere a re p le n ty o f o th er p eo p le w it h d eep v oice s l ik e t hat.”
“ I d on’t k now ,” I said . “ It w as a w fu lly g ra v elly . . . . ”
“ en m ay b e so m eo n e im it a te d Ja m es, wan ting yo u to th in k he w as
atta ck in g y o u ,” D ad sa id . “M ay b e th is w hole th ing w as ju st a n oth er p art o f a
fr a m e j ob f or th e N FF .”
M om still se em ed sk ep tica l. “Y o u th ink so m eo ne a ct ually p re te nd ed to be
Ja m es V an A m bu rg a n d t h re a te n ed T ed dy w it h a g u n so le ly t o p oint t h e � ng er
a t th e N FF ?”
“ W hy not? ” D ad ask ed . “It se em s to hav e w ork ed . Notice th at th ey
th re a te n ed T ed dy, not a n F B I a g en t o r a n y a d u lt . H e’s o n ly a b oy—a nd m ore
s u sce ptib le to co ercio n lik e th at.” H e g la n ce d a t m e. “ No o ffens e.”

“N on e ta ken ,” I said .
D ad co ntin ued o n . “B y h is o w n a d m is sio n, Ted dy w asn ’t s n oop ing a ro u nd .
So w hy co me a ft e r h im ? U nle ss it w as p art o f a setu p.”
M om g re w th ou gh tfu l o n ce m ore . So d id I. M y fa th er’s arg u m ent m ad e
se n se , an d it m ad e m e a n gry . I h ad be en sca re d t o d ea th b y t h e p and a w it h t h e
gu n . T o th in k th at it w as a ll s im ply d one to m ak e m e a p aw n w as i nf uria ting .
We p ass e d o u t o f th e p ark th ro u gh th e re a r em plo yee ex it . M arcu s and
Je th ro d u tif u lly fo llo w ed u s.  e em plo yee p ark ing lo t sa t to o u r le ft , hea t
sh im merin g o ff th e a sp h alt , tu rni ng a ll th e ca rs p ark ed th ere int o m ir a g es. A
path le d th ro u gh th e w ood s— or a t le a st, w hat w ood s re m aine d n ow th at th e
W ild s w as b ein g b uilt — to w ard e m plo yee h ou sing . A s w e h ea d ed int o t he t re es,
th e n ois e o f F un Ju n gle w as r e p la ced b y t h e cl am or o f t h e co nstr u ct io n sit e : th e
ru m bli n g o f b u lld oze rs, th e cl an g o f h am mers, th e be ep ing o f tr u ck s ba cking
u p.
“S o , if it’s n ot th e N FF , w ho did s te a l th e p an da?” I a sk ed .
“I t h in k y o u m ad e a p re tty g o od a rg u m ent f o r W alt e r O gilv y,” D ad r e p li e d .
“A nd I w ou ld n’t r u le o u t e x o tic ani m al tr a ffi ck ers, eit h er. I ca n gu ara nt ee y o u
th ere a re p le n ty o f p eo p le w illi n g t o p ay bi g bu cks f or a g ia n t p and a.”
“ A nd y o u th in k th ese tr a ffi ck ers m ig h t h av e fa k ed th e r a n so m , to o?” M om
ask ed .
“W hy n ot? ” D ad r ep li e d . “ It’s d e� ni te ly t hro w n t he F B I o ff th e tra ck.”
“  ere ’s a ls o th e cra zy id ea th at th e F B I is a ctu ally r ig h t,” M om s u ggeste d .
“A nd th at th is a ll r ea lly is a k id n ap pin g b y th e N FF .”
“ B ut if it ’s n ot,” I p re sse d , “th en th e F B I is g ettin g d is tr a cte d fr o m th e re a l
crim in als . A nd e very m in ute th ey ’r e d is tr a ct ed , L i P ing is i n m ore d ang er!”
M om h eld u p a n o p en h an d, sig na li ng m e to ca lm d ow n. “I th ink w e ca n
tr u st th e F B I to han dle th is , T ed dy.  ey d on’t ne ed y ou g etting inv olv ed .”
“ B ut— ” I b eg an .
M om cu t m e o ff . “W e’v e ta lk ed eno ugh ab ou t L i P ing to d ay, don’t y o u
th in k, Ja ck ?” S h e g av e D ad a m ea ni ng fu l lo ok. I’d s e en it b efo re . It m ea nt t h at
if D ad d id n’t w an t t o e n d u p in t h e d ogh ou se , he h ad b ette r no t d is a g re e w it h
h er.
“ Y o u r m oth er’s r ig h t,” D ad t o ld m e. It d id n’t s e em li k e h e w as o nl y s a y ing it
t o h um or h er. I t s eem ed lik e h e r ea lly be li e v ed it.

A cl ou d o f m osq u it o es s u dden ly s w arm ed u s, w hich m ea n t w e w ere a lm ost
h om e.
O ur n ew e m plo yee h ou sin g w as ca lle d L ak esid e E sta te s, bu t t h e “ la k e” w as
re a lly o n ly a m uddy s in kh ole . A ft e r t h e s p ring r a ins , it h ad � lle d w it h w ate r t o
a d ep th o f s ix fe et a n d b een fu n to s w im in fo r tw o d ay s.  en th e w ate r h ad
g ro w n s ta g n an t a nd s ta rte d b re ed ing m osq u it o es b y t he t on.
M osq u it o es w ere a fa ct of li f e in m uch o f T ex as, th ou gh fo r so m e re a so n,
th ey av o id ed Fun Ju n gle . My pare nt s pre su m ed th at J.J . was co vertly
f u m ig atin g th e pla ce w it h pow erfu l pestici des— to u ris ts did n’t w ant to be
m au le d by m osq u it o es at a th em e park — bu t J.J . ne ver co pped to it .
S o m etim es it s e em ed a s t h ou gh e v ery m osq u it o in th e a re a w as be ing d iv erte d
to L ak esid e E sta te s. E ach n ig h t, th ey h overe d o u ts id e a n inv is ibl e ba rrie r ne ar
o u r h om e, w ait in g to atta ck us a nd s ip h on u s d ry .
W e d ash ed th ro u gh th em , s wattin g l eft a nd r ig h t, r aci ng for o ur t ra ile r.
E xce pt f o r t h e s in kh ole , L ak esid e E sta te s w as p re ttie r t h an t h e o ld e m plo yee
h ou sin g a re a , bu t t h at w as m ostly be cause it w as h ard t o im ag ine a p la ce be ing
u gli e r th an th e o ld em plo yee h ou sin g are a . Back th ere , a b u nch o f ch ea p
m ob ile h om es h ad b een s ca tte re d r a n dom ly in th e w ood s w it h ou t a ny t h ou gh t
to a ppea ra n ce or co mmun it y .
N ow J .J . had sp ru n g fo r n ice r tr a ile rs fo r e v ery o ne (th an ks to a li t tle a rm -
tw is tin g b y m y p are n ts ), an d t h ey h ad be en arr a n ged in tw o co nce ntric circl es
a ro u n d a ce ntr a l p atch o f d ir t. J.J . had p ro m is e d t h at, at s o m e p oint , he w ou ld
r e p la ce t h e d ir t w it h a s w im min g p ool, bu t f o r t h e t im e be ing , he’d s p ru ng f o r
a sp in dly vo lle y b all n et an d a g am e o f h orse sh oes. M om , D ad , and I w ere
p re tty m uch th e o n ly p eo p le w ho e v er u se d a n y o f th em —m ost o f th e o th er
re sid en ts w ere w ork ah oli cs w it h no k id s— bu t w e h ad m ana ged to o rg ani ze a
v o lle y b all t o u rn am en t t w ice . ( e m am malo gis ts h ad be ate n th e h erp eto lo gis ts
a n d o rn it h olo gis ts b oth tim es.)  ere w as a ls o a b it o f la nd sca ping th at w as
co min g in to s p rin g b lo om . It m ig h t h av e a ll b een a d ece nt p la ce t o h ang o u t if
it w ere n ’t f or th e m osq u it o es.
W e s li p ped th ro u gh th e d oor o f o ur h ou se , s qu ash ing any l ast bl ood su ck ers.
M arcu s a n d Je th ro p oste d th em se lv es o u ts id e, in th e sh ad e o f a c ed ar tr e e,
w here th ey co uld k eep a n e ye o n o ur h ou se .

I fe lt k in d o f b ad fo r th em . W it h th e h ea t a nd th e m osq u it o es, sta nd ing
g u ard o ver u s w asn ’t g o in g to b e m uch fu n. But I w as still re li e v ed th ey w ere
th ere .
O f c o u rse , it w asn ’t t h at n ice in si d e o u r h ou se e it h er. M y p are n ts d id n’t li k e
w astin g e le ctricity , so t h ey a lw ay s t u rne d th e a ir -co ndit io n in g o ff w hen w e le ft .
 e tra ile r w as a s h ot a nd h um id a s a sau n a.
M om � ip ped o n th e a/c. “I’m m ak ing ch ick en fo r d inne r to ni gh t,” sh e
in fo rm ed u s, th en to ld m e, “ Hit th e s how ers, k id .”
“ R ig h t n ow ?” I a sk ed .
D ad sn iff ed th e a ir a ro u n d m e a n d te a sing ly w rink le d h is no se . “Y es, no w.
B efo re th at s tin k m ak es th e p ain t p eel o ff the w alls .”
“ Y o u sh ou ld ta lk ,” M om to ld h im . “Y o u’r e n ex t. Both y o u g u ys re ek , and
th at’s co min g f ro m som eo n e w ho w ork s w it h g orilla s.”
D ad h eld u p h is h an ds in m ock su rre nd er. “A ll r ig h t. W e g et th e p ict ure .”
H e g ra b bed a b ee r f r o m t h e f r id ge a n d h ustle d m e d ow n t h e s h ort h all t o w ard
m y r oom .
W hile M om w en t to w ork in th e k it ch en, I lo w ere d m y v o ice and sa id ,
“D ad , b e h on est. D id y ou e ver d o a ny m onk ey -w re nch ing ?”
A b rie f � ash o f g u ilt � ick ere d a cr oss h is f a ce be fo re h e t h ou gh t t o co rre ct it .
“ W hy d o y ou a sk ?”
I r ea li z e d h e h ad n’t s aid n o. “ I j u st g ot a feeli ng .”
D ad u sh ere d m e in to m y r o om a n d lo w ere d h is v o ice , no t w ant ing M om t o
h ea r h im th ro u gh o u r p ap er-th in walls . “O n occa sio n, when I’v e be en on
assig n m en t in o th er co un tr ie s, I’v e f o u nd t h at t h e g o vernm ent w asn ’t e nf orci ng
th eir w ild li f e la w s a s w ell a s th ey s h ou ld h av e. So I to ok m att e rs int o m y o w n
han ds.”
I p ro b ab ly s hou ld n’t h av e f ou n d th is i m pre ssiv e, bu t I d id . “ Lik e w hat? ”
“A fe w y ea rs a g o , I w as in a n atio na l p ark in In dia w here a co rp ora tio n was
b u ild in g a h ote l w it h ou t a p erm it . It w as rig h t in th e m id dle o f cr it ica l tig er
h ab it a t. S o . . . I mig h t h av e s et s om e o f t heir co nstr u ct io n e qu ip m ent on � re .”
I g rin ned . “ And th at s to p ped th em fro m bu ild ing the h ote l? ”
“ N o,” D ad r e p li e d s a d ly . “ e d ev elo p er’s ins ura n ce bo ugh t h im br and -ne w
eq u ip m en t. M y actio ns d id n’t m ak e a d iff ere nce fo r th e tig ers— and I ca me

aw fu lly c lo se to g ettin g th ro w n in a r u ra l I nd ia n ja il, w hich w ou ld h av e r e a lly
s cr ew ed u p m y l if e .”
“ W as th at th e o nly tim e y ou e ver d id a nyth ing lik e t hat? ” I a sk ed .
“ e p oin t I ’m t r y in g t o m ak e is , m onk ey -w re nch ing p ro ba bly ca use s m ore
p ro b le m s fo r th e p eo p le w ho d o it th an th e p eo p le th ey ’r e tr y ing to sto p .
E sp ecia lly i n t h is co un tr y , w e ca n u su ally t r u st t h e la w t o d o t h e r ig h t t h ing . So
d on’t e ven th in k a bou t it. A nd g et cl ea n ed u p.” D ad d uck ed o ut o f t he r oom .
I re a li z e d th at, on ce a g ain , he h ad n’t a ns were d m y q u estio n. And h e’d sa id
w e co uld usu ally tr ust th e l aw .
I p ee le d o ff m y cl oth es a n d h ea d ed fo r th e sh ow er, w ond ering if w e co uld
t r u st th e l aw th is tim e.
B eca use if th e F B I w as w ro n g a b ou t th e N FF , th en L i P in g w as in se rio u s
tr o u ble .

TR A FFIC KER S A N D G O AT S U CKER S
“I k n ow w ho t o ok L i P in g!” E th an S oko l a nnou n ce d.
H e s e t h is lu n ch t r a y o n o u r t a b le in th e s ch ool ca fe te ria a nd s li d int o a s e a t
acr oss f r o m m e. X avie r a n d S u m m er w ere a lr e a d y t h ere , alo ng w it h o u r f r ie nd s
Vio le t G ra ce a n d D ash ie ll A le xa nder. Eth an , D ash , Su m mer, an d V io le t w ere
a ll e ig h th g ra d ers, a y ea r o ld er t h an me.  e b oys w ere t w o o f t h e be st a th le te s
a t s ch ool, w hile V io le t w as th e h ea d ch eerle a d er.
V io le t ex cite dly re sp on ded to E th an b efo re I co uld . “R ea lly ? W ho to ok
h er?”
“  e ch upaca bra !” E th an r ep li e d .
E very o n e g ro an ed .
“ e M exica n g o at su ck er?” X av ie r a sk ed d is d ainf ully , ta k ing a b it e o f h is
s a n dw ich . N ow t h at w e w ere in s ch ool, h e’d t r a d ed h is t u xed o fo r h is s ta n dard
o u t� t: j ea n s a nd a F un Ju n gle T -s h ir t. “  at’s a n u rba n m yth .”
“ It is n ot,” E th an a rg u ed , dea d se rio u s. H e w as a sm art k id , bu t h e h ad a
w ea k n ess fo r scie nce � ctio n. Tw o w eek s ea rli e r, he’d cl aim ed h e’d h ea rd a
w ere w olf bay in g nea r his hou se one ni gh t; it had tu rne d ou t to be th e
n eig h bor’s ca t in hea t. “ My g ra n dfa th er s aw o ne out o n h is r an ch .”
“ N o k id d in g?” S u m mer a sk ed . “W hen? ” S h e s a id it li k e s h e w as int ere ste d ,
bu t I k new she w as o nly l ea d in g E th an o n.
“A co uple y ea rs a g o .” E th an d u g int o h is e nch ila d as, th en sp oke w it h h is
m ou th f u ll. “It w as s u ck in g a ll h is g o ats d ry . D ra ini ng a ll t h e b lo od r ig h t o u t o f

th em . E very co uple d ay s, he’d co me o u ts id e a n d � nd o ne o f t h em a ll s h riv ele d
u p, l ik e a g oat ra is in .”
I s n ick ere d a t th is . I co uld n’t h elp it . N o o ne e ls e a t th e ta b le co uld k eep a
s tr a ig h t f ace eit h er, e xce pt S um mer.
“ A g oat ra is in ?” D ash e ch oed .
“Y ea h ,” E th an w en t o n . “Y o u k n ow , li k e a ll t h e b lo od w as g o ne f r o m i t , so i t
w as n oth in g b u t s k in a n d b on es. M y g ra n dfa th er s ta rte d s ta y ing u p, sit ting o n
th e p orch w it h a s h otg u n . A co uple n ig h ts la te r, he h ea rs th is h orribl e s cr ea m
fr o m th e g o at p en , an d th is in sa ne sh rie k , so h e a im s h is � ash li g h t th at w ay,
a n d th ere ’s a ch upaca bra , atta ck ing h is g o ats . It to ok o ff th e m om ent it sa w
h im , b ut h e � re d a few shots a t it an d s ca re d it o ff. I t ne ver ca me ba ck again. ”
“W hat d id it l ook l ik e?” S um mer a sk ed .
“H e sa id it w as li k e p art co yo te , part li z a rd . Bla ck a s n ig h t, ex ce pt fo r it s
e y es, w hich were b lo od r ed .”
I w as tr y in g s o h ard to k eep fr o m la u gh ing , I co uld n’t e a t m y lu n ch . “A nd
yo u th in k o ne a tta ck ed th e tr uck w it h L i P ing ?”
“A bso lu te ly .” E th an ja m med h alf a n e nch ila d a int o h is m ou th . “ e tr u ck
w as a tta ck ed o u t in W est T exa s, rig h t?  at’s w here ch upaca br as li v e. A nd y o u
sa id th e p an da d is a p pea re d w it h ou t a tr a ce ? W ell, ch upaca br as d on’t le a v e
an yth in g b eh in d.”
“ I th ou gh t th ey l eft g oat ra is in s,” D ash t ea se d .
“ is is n’t f un ny!” E th an s nap ped .
It w as, th ou gh . V io le t w as g ig gli ng so m uch th at h er so d a ca me o u t h er
n ose .
A nd y et, Eth an ’s su ggestio n w asn ’t e v en th e m ost rid icu lo u s o ne I’d h ea rd
th at d ay. S in ce th e m om en t I’d a rriv ed a t m id dle sch ool, m y fe llo w stu dent s
had b een a p pro ach in g m e w it h id ea s a bo ut w ho h ad s to le n Li P ing . E rin Eane s
had a ccu se d h er u n cl e, w ho s h e s a id h ad s e rio u s p ost- tr a u m atic str e ss d is o rd er
a ft e r le a vin g th e a rm y a n d h ad a lw ay s w an te d a p an da. D ina Z yw ica cl aim ed
th at s p ace a li e n s h ad ca ptu re d L i P ing fo r a n ex tr a te rre str ia l z o o. L ane H ag ino
s u ggeste d ou r P E te a ch er, Coach R ed m on d, most li k ely beca use C oach
R ed m on d h ad m ad e L an e ru n la p s a ft e r sch ool o n Frid ay an d L an e w as still
a n noyed a b ou t it . A nd a d oze n ki ds h ad a ccu se d th e B ark sd ale tw ins , be cause
th e B ark sd ale s w ere j erk s a nd n ob od y l ik ed t hem .

“C hupaca bra s don’t exis t,” X avi er sa id . “T ru st m e. I’m an ex p ert on
cr yp to zo olo gy.”
“ W hat’s th at? ” V io le t a sk ed .
“ e stu dy o f m yth olo gica l an im als ,” X av ie r sa id p ro u dly . “L ik e d ra g o ns
an d y etis an d sa sq u atch es.  e ch upaca br a is a m od ern- day inv ent io n. e
en tir e m yth ca n b e t r a ce d b ack t o a co med y r o u tine b y t h is g u y in Puerto R ico
b ack in th e 1 990s. . . . ”
“ at’s n ot tr ue,” E th an p ro te ste d .
“ en why is th ere no m ent io n of ch upaca bra s a n yw here — in an y
new sp ap er o r m ag azin e o r n ew s r e p ort—u ntil a ft e r 1995? ” X av ie r cr am med a
h an dfu l o f D orit o s in to h is m ou th . “H ow h ad n o o ne e v er s e en a h alf co yo te ,
h alf l iz a rd r un nin g a ro u n d T exa s be fo re t hat? ”
“ B eca use th ey d id n’t e xis t b efo re th at,” E th an d ecl are d . “ ey w ere cr ea te d
in a g o vern m en t la b . But so m eth ing w ent w ro ng and th ey esca ped and th e
go vern m en t h as b een tr yin g to co ver i t u p e ver s ince .”
E very o n e la u gh ed a t t h is , to o. X av ie r t h re w u p h is a rm s in ex asp era tio n. “I
ca n’t r ea so n w it h th is g uy.”
“ F in e,” E th an sn eere d . “L au gh now . But yo u w on’t be la u gh ing w hen
ch upaca bra s bre ed en ou gh an d w e ru n ou t o f go ats .  en w e’l l be n ext.
E very o n e’s s o w orrie d a bou t z om bie s— ”
“A ctu ally , I don’t th in k a nyo n e’s w orrie d a bou t z om bies,” D ash int err u pte d .
“W ell, w ait t ill t h e ch upaca bra s co me f o r u s,” E th an � ni sh ed . “I’l l be r e a d y,
b u t y ou w on’t . A nd it ’l l b e y ou r f un era l.”
“ S ad ly , E th an , I ca n p ro ve th at a ch upaca bra d id n’t ta k e L i P ing ,” S u m mer
sa id , poli s h in g o ff th e la st o f h er lu n ch . H er fa m ily ’s p erso na l ch ef h ad m ad e
h er yello w ta il sa sh im i w it h sid es of sn ap be an sa la d and M ed it e rra ne an
co usco us.
I , on t h e o th er h an d, had a t u rk ey s a n dw ich a nd ce le ry s tick s. “S u m mer,” I
w arn ed . “ We’r e n ot s uppose d to rev ea l a ny th ing abou t t he ca se .”
S u m mer co mple te ly ig n ore d m e a n d bl urte d o u t, “ ere w as a r a n so m no te
le ft b eh in d.”
V io le t an d D ash ie ll w ere th rille d to be le t in on th is . “N o w ay !” V io le t
g asp ed . “  e p an da w as k id n ap ped ?”
“P an da -n ap ped ,” S um mer co rre cte d.

Xavie r w heele d o n m e, an noyed . “I t e x te d y o u la st ni gh t t o a sk if t h ere w as
a ra nso m note a nd y ou s aid n o.”
I t w as o n e o f a b ou t tw o h un dre d te x ts h e’d se nt m e, all a sk ing q u estio ns
ab ou t th e ca se th at I w asn ’t a llo w ed to a ns wer. I’d h ad to fe ig n ig no ra nce in
r e sp on se to each one.
“ B eca use th at’s not su ppose d to be pu bli c kn ow le d ge,” I sa id , �xing
S u m mer w it h a h ard s ta re .
S u m mer w av ed th is o ff , un im pre sse d . “ e F B I o n ly to ld u s th at b eca use
th ey ’r e b ein g a ll te rrit o ria l.”
“  e F B I is in vestig atin g?” V io le t a sk ed , e ven m ore i nt rig u ed .
“A ha!” E th an cried . “ at p ro v es th e ch upaca bra w as in vo lv ed !”
“ C alm d ow n, psy ch o,” D ash te a se d . “H ow d id so m e k ind o f g o at- s u ck ing
co yo te l iz a rd lea v e a ra nso m note ?”
“ It’s a ll p art o f th e g o vern m en t c o ver-u p to h id e th e fa ct th at ch upaca br as
exis t,” E th an s a id � atly . “F ir st, th ey p la n t t h e n ote t o m ak e it s e em li k e h um ans
sto le t h e p an da.  en t h ey s e n d t h e F B I in t o t a k e o ver t h e w hole in vestig atio n
so th at n o o ne l ea rn s th e tr uth .”
X avie r co lla p se d o n th e lu n ch ta bl e, pre te nd ing to be e x h au ste d fr o m th is
d is cu ssio n . “ Talk in g to you ,” h e s aid , “ is l ik e t ry ing to r ea so n w it h a br ick .”
“ H a h a,” E th an sn iff ed . “If y o u’r e su ch a g eni us, th en yo u e xp la in h ow th e
pan da d is a p pea re d .”
“ M ay b e th e L och N ess M on ste r a te i t!” D ash s uggeste d .
E very o n e l au gh ed e xce pt E th an , w ho s lu gged D ash in t he s hou ld er.  en h e
lo oked to Xavie r a gain . “ C’m on , E ins te in. I ’m w ait ing .”
“ H ow s h ou ld I k n ow ?” X avie r s a id . “A sk T ed dy. H e’s t h e o ne w ho’s w ork ing
w it h th e F B I .”
“ N o I’m not,” I to ld th em . “ e fe d s don’t w an t m e in vo lv ed . I’m
co mple te ly in th e d ark o n th is o ne .”
“ I’l l b et,” X avie r s a id s a rca stica lly . “ S u m mer’s d ad w ou ld n’t le t t h em d o t h at
to y ou .”
“ H e ca n’t te ll th e F B I w hat to do,” I p oin te d o ut.
X avie r t u rn ed t o S u m mer, kn ow ing t h at s h e w as m ore li k ely t o t e ll h im t h e
tr u th a bou t th e in vestig atio n .

“It’s t r u e,” s h e s a id . “S o rr y , bu t T ed dy’s o ff t h e ca se . H e a nd I t r ie d t o p oke
aro u n d yeste rd ay an d go t ru n off . All he’s inv estig ating no w is w hy th e
dolp h in s h av e s ta rte d p an ts in g p eo p le .”
V io le t s norte d s od a o ut h er n ose a gain.
D ash b u rst in to la u gh te r. Eth an did to o, hav ing alr e a d y fo rg o tte n abo ut
bein g a nnoyed a t th e r est o f u s.
“ P an ts in g p eo p le ?” X avie r r ep ea te d .
“ at’s rig h t,” S u m mer re p li e d . “ ey ’v e b een yan king d ow n th e ba th ing
s u it s o f p eo p le in th e ta nk w it h th em .”
“ M en o r w om en ?” E th an a sk ed .
“A ll m en s o f ar,” S um mer s aid .
D ash s eem ed d is a p poin te d b y th is . “ How m any tim es h as i t h ap pene d?”
“A co uple ,” S u m mer t o ld h im . “ ank fu lly , it ’s o nl y h ap pene d t o o ne g u est,
th ou gh .”
“ S o w ho e ls e g ot p an ts e d ?” a sk ed E th an . “ One o f t he t ra ine rs?”
S u m mer d id n’t an sw er, bu t h er ey es � ick ed to m e, w hich w as en ou gh
an sw er f or e very o n e e ls e .  ey a ll t urne d m y w ay.
“A d olp h in y an ked d ow n y ou r b ath ing suit ? ” D ash a sk ed m e.
B y t h is p oin t, m y f a ce h ad � ush ed s o r e d , I co uld n’t p ossibl y d eny it . “Y es,”
I a dm it te d .
D ash a n d E th an h ow le d w it h la u gh te r. Su m mer jo ine d in as w ell. V io le t
tr ie d to co nta in h erse lf , li k e it w as b ad m anne rs to la u gh at m e, bu t sh e
co uld n’t r ein it in .
Only X avie r s to od u p f or m e. “ It’s no t t hat f unny ,” h e s aid .
“A ctu ally , it w as,” S um mer co rre c te d .
“W hat h ap pen ed ?” D ash a sk ed S u m mer. “G iv e u s a ll t h e g o ry d eta ils . H ow
m an y o th er p eo p le w ere a ro u n d?”
I w in ce d, hop in g S u m mer w ou ld n’t te ll th e w hole e m ba rr a ssing sto ry . To
m y re li e f, sh e n otice d m y d is co mfo rt a nd a lt e re d th e fa ct s. “N o o ne e ls e w as
th ere ,” sh e sa id . “O nly m e, an d I d id n’t re a lly se e it . It w as b efo re th e p ark
o p en ed .  e d olp h in p u lle d d ow n T ed dy’s s u it , and T ed dy p u lle d it r ig h t ba ck
up a gain b efo re I e ven k new w hat w as g oing on.”
Eit h er t h e o th ers d id n’t b eli e v e t h is , or t h ey d id n’t w an t t o b eli e v e it . “ at’s
i t ? ” E th an a sk ed . “  at’s th e w hole s to ry ?”

“ at’s th e w hole s to ry ,” I r e p ea te d . “A nd th en ano th er d olp h in did it to a
g u est y este rd ay.”
“ N ow , th at w as fu n ny,” S u m m er sa id , tr y in g to g et th e sto ry o ff m e. “A
d olp h in p u lle d th e g u y’s su it d ow n and h e fr e a k ed . H e h it th e d olp h in, and
th en th e d olp h in b it h im on th e bu tt.”
 e g u ys all la u gh ed at th is , th ou gh V io le t lo oked co nce rne d. “W as th e
dolp h in h urt? ”
“ I d on’t th in k so ,” I sa id . “A nd th e g u y w asn ’t e it h er. But h is fa m ily w as
re a lly u pse t. So o n e o f t h e t r a in ers a sk ed m e t o h elp � gu re o u t w ho t a u gh t t h e
dolp h in s to yan k d ow n p eo p le ’s s uit s i n t he � rst p la ce .”
“  ey d on’t t h in k t h e d olp h in s co uld h av e ju st � gu re d o u t h ow t o d o it o n
th eir o wn?” V io le t a sk ed .
“ ey ’r e p re tty s u re s o m eo n e g o t int o t h e t a n k a n d t a u gh t t h em h ow t o d o
it ,” I said .
“A nd th ey ask ed y o u to lo ok in to it ? ” X av ie r sa id . “Ins te a d o f L i P ing ’s
d is a p pea ra n ce ? ’C au se it se em s li k e L i P ing is a lo t m ore im porta nt th an
d olp h in s s te a li n g a few b ath in g s uit s .”
“ S h e is ,” I a gre ed . “ But th e F B I d oesn ’t w an t m y h elp .”
“ S o w ho d o th ey s usp ect? ” X avie r a sk ed .
“I d on’t k n ow ,” I li e d , th en g av e S u m mer a g la n ce . I h op ed s h e’d f o llo w m y
le a d a n d n ot s p ill t h e b ea n s a b ou t w hat w e’d le a rne d f r o m t h e F B I . I w as q u it e
s u re th e F B I w ou ld n’t a ppre cia te o ur d oin g th at.
S u m mer g ot th e m essa g e. “  ey w on’t s hare a nyth ing wit h u s.”
“ W hate v er,” D ash s aid . “ W ho s to le h er?”
“A nim al t r a ffi ck ers,” X avie r t o ld h im . “P eo p le w ho br ing e x o tic sp eci es int o
th is co un tr y to sell a s p ets .”
E th an s nick ere d a t th is . “ And y ou t hou gh t m y ch upaca bra i d ea w as s tu pid ?”
“A nim al tr a ffi ck in g is a huge bu sine ss,” X av ie r sa id defe ns iv ely . “L ik e,
b illi o n s o f d olla rs a y ea r, e asy .”
“ B ut n ot in th is co un tr y ,” D ash s aid . “  at h ap pens oth er p la ce s, r ig h t? ”
“ N o, it h ap pen s rig h t h ere ,” X av ie r sa id gra v ely . “A ll th e tim e. I k no w
peo p le li k e to p oin t th e � n ger a t C hina a nd o th er co unt rie s, bu t a cco rd ing to
th e W orld W ild li f e F un d, A m erica ns bu y ju st a s m an y ille g al a n im al s p eci es a s
C hin a e very y ea r. M ay b e e ven m ore .”

“W hat k in d o f a nim als ?” V io le t a sk ed .
X avie r g rin ned at h er, se em in g pl ea se d to h av e h er att e nt io n. “A ll k ind s.
M ostly , it ’s s m alle r t h in gs li k e b ir d s, m onk ey s, an d r e p tile s, bu t t h ey e v en m ove
b ig ger a n im als . N ot lo n g a g o , I h ea rd U S cu sto m s b u ste d so m eo n e tr y in g to
s n ea k a d ru gged tig er cu b in to th e co unt ry i ns id e a suit ca se .”
“ U gh ,” S u m mer g ro an ed . “W hat k ind o f s ick je rk w ou ld d o s o m eth ing li k e
th at? ”
“ It’s e v en w orse fo r th e sm alle r a ni m als ,” I sa id . “S ad ly , tr a ffi ck ers u su ally
a re n ’t v ery ca re fu l w it h th em .  ey ju st g o o u t in to th e w ild a n d ste a l th em ,
an d f or e very o ne th at g ets to a b uyer s afe , a bunch die i n t ra n sit .”
V io le t g asp ed . “  at’s h orrib le !”
“ I k n ow ,” X avie r ag re ed . “B ut th e p eo p le w ho b u y th ese ex o tic ani m als
d on’t ca re .  ere w ou ld n’t b e a tr a ffi ck ing bu sine ss at all if p eo p le w ere n ’t
w illi n g t o p ay t h ou sa n ds o f d olla rs fo r s o m eth ing t h at o u gh t t o be in a z o o o r
th e w ild in ste a d .”
“ A nd y o u th in k th ese p eo p le a ctu ally sto le a p an da fr o m a m oving tr u ck ?”
E th an a sk ed d ou btfu lly .
“ Y o u th in k a ch u paca b ra sto le a pan da fr o m a m ovin g tr u ck !” X av ie r
re to rte d .
“C hupaca bra s a re f a r f a ste r a n d m ore p ow erfu l t h an a ny one r e a li z e s,” E th an
to ld h im . “ e g o vern m en t b re d t h em t o be li v ing w ea p ons . O nly , th ey t u rne d
on th eir cr ea to rs.”
X avie r r o lle d h is e y es, th en r e tu rn ed h is a tt e nt io n to t h e r e st o f u s. “A p and a
is p ro b ab ly t h e g o ld s ta n dard o f e x o tic pets .  ere a re le ss t h an t h re e t h ou sa nd
o f th em on E arth , a nd n o m atte r h ow m uch m one y y ou h av e, t here ’s no way t o
get on e le g ally .  e C hin ese go vernm ent w on’t le t it hap pen. So th ey ’r e
p ro b ab ly w orth h un dre d s o f th ou sa nd s o f d olla rs o n th e bl ack m ark et. If no t
milli o n s. Li P in g w as a lr e a d y in sid e o u r co unt ry . It w as a o nce -in- a-li f e tim e
op portu n it y f o r t h e t r a ffi ck ers t o s na tch h er. If t h ey h ad a bu yer w illi ng t o p ay
se rio u s ca sh f or L i P in g, it w ou ld h av e be en w orth t he r is k .”
S u m mer s a t u prig h t, re m em berin g s o m eth ing . “T ed dy! I s n ’t t h ere s o m e r ich
la d y w ho li v es u p b y W aco w it h a w hole zo o fu ll o f ex o tic an im als ? D ora
P ea co ck?”
“ F lo ra H an co ck,” I co rre cte d. “ I a ct ually m et h er a t F unJ ung le y este rd ay.”

“W hat? ” S um mer s aid a ccu sin gly . “ W hy d id n’t y ou t ell m e t hat? ”
“ It d id n’t se em th at im porta n t,” I re p li e d . “A nd a lo t o f o th er stu ff w as
g o in g o n.” I g av e h er a p oin te d look. S um mer w as a w are I ’d be en t hre a te ne d b y
Ja m es V an A m bu rg , bu t t h at w as a ls o inf orm atio n th at t h e F B I d id n’t w an t u s
sh arin g w it h th e p ubli c.
“ R ig h t,” S um mer s aid , b ack in g d ow n. “ So w hat h ap pene d w it h h er?”
“ N ot m uch . I w as w atch in g th at cr azy r a lly o u ts id e P an da P ala ce w it h o ne
o f th e k eep ers, an d sh e ca me o ver to u s. Sh e’d co me to F unJ ung le to se e L i
Pin g a nd w an te d to know if w e co uld t ell h er a nyth ing abou t t he cr im e.”
“ D o y ou th in k s he m ig h t h av e b een co nnected t o i t? ” V io le t a sk ed e xci te d ly .
“ If sh e h ad sto le n th e p an da, why w ou ld sh e th en come all th e w ay to
F un Ju n gle to see it? ” D ash a sk ed co nd esce nd ing ly .
“ T o m ak e ev ery o n e th in k sh e had n’t sto le n th e pan da,” V io le t re p li e d
sh arp ly , a nnoyed b y D ash ’s to ne.
“ I d on’t t h in k s h e w as in vo lv ed ,” I s a id . “I t h ink D ash is r igh t. Sh e s e em ed
g en uin ely u pse t th at L i P in g w asn ’t t here  . . . ”
“S h e co uld ju st b e a g ood a ctr ess,” S um mer p oint ed o ut.
“ A nd fr o m w hat I k n ow a b ou t h er, sh e’s bo ugh t a ll h er a ni m als le g ally ,” I
co ntin ued . “ I d on’t th in k s he d ea ls i n t he bl ack m ark et.”
“ H ow ca n y o u b e s o s u re ?” X avie r a sk ed . “F or a ll w e k n ow , sh e co uld be t h e
an im al tra ffick in g q ueen o f T exa s.”
“  ere are p le n ty o f o th er p eo p le w ho o w n ex o tic ani m als ,” I sa id . “I’v e
h ea rd th at th ere a re m ore th an fo u r th ou sa nd p et tig ers in Tex as a lo n e .  at’s
m ore th an th ere are le ft in th e w ild . Any one w ho o w ns a tig er m ig h t h av e
w an te d a p an da, to o.”
“ W hy w ou ld s o m eo n e li k e t h at e v en hav e t o b ring t r a ffi ck ers int o it ? ” D ash
a sk ed . “If th ey w an te d a p an da b ad ly e no ugh , and th ey h ad th e ca sh to g et
o n e, co uld n’t th ey j u st p ut to geth er a tea m to s te a l i t t hem se lv es?”
E very o n e co nsid ere d th at, th en co nce ded D ash h ad a p oint . “I d on’t se e
w hy n ot,” S um mer s aid .
D ash p re sse d o n . “S o im ag in e o ne o f th ese co lle ct ors is a lr e a d y a cr im ina l.
L ik e a d ru g lo rd o r s o m eth in g.  ere w as t h is g u y na med P abl o E sco ba r d ow n
in C olo m bia w ho h ad a p riv ate z oo. W it h z ebr as a nd h ip pos a nd every th ing .”

“O h y ea h !” X avie r ch im ed in . “I h ea rd a b ou t h im ! A ft e r t h e fe d s r a id ed h is
co mpou n d a n d ca ptu re d h im , m ost o f t h e a n im als e sca ped in to t h e r a in f o re st.
A lot o f th em got e ate n , b ut th e h ip pos a re s till r unni ng wild d ow n t here .”
“ Y ea h , rig ht.” E th an lau gh ed .
“It’s t r u e,” I t o ld h im . “M y d ad w ent d ow n t h ere t o t a k e p h oto s o f t h em f o r
N atio n al G eo gra p h ic a few y ea rs b ack .”
“ N o w ay.” E th an sta re d a t m e, ja w a g ap e. “ at’s ins ane .” It se em ed o d d
th at h e w as h avin g a h ard er tim e b eli e v ing th is th an th e id ea o f a co vert
g o vern m en t- d esig n ed co yo te l iz a rd t hat w as s uck ing goats d ry a ll o ver T ex as.
“ W ell, w hat if t h ere ’s s o m e n ew g u y li k e P abl o E sco ba r?” D ash a sk ed . “A nd
he w an ts a p an da. M ay b e it ’s o n e o f th ese ne w b ig -tim e d ru g d ea le rs d ow n in
M exico .  ey a ll h av e th eir o w n p riv ate a rm ie s. It’s p ro ba bly no t to o h ard to
m ove a p an da o ver th e R io G ra n de w it h ou t g etting no tice d. D ru gs a nd g u ns
get m oved a cr oss it a ll t h e t im e. So t h is d ru g d ea le r s e nd s a t e a m o f h is g u ys t o
W est T exa s, a nd th ey h it th e tr uck and r un t he p and a s ou th o f t he bo rd er.”
“ B ut w hat a bou t th e ra nso m note s?” V io le t a sk ed .
“A d iv ersio n ,” D ash d ecl are d . “ To t hro w the F B I o ff.”
E very o n e se em ed to b u y th at a s w ell. It a ll m ad e a su rp ris ing a m ou nt o f
se n se to m e. I h ad n’t th ou gh t abo ut a m ajo r cr im ina l w an ting to ste a l th e
pan da f o r h im se lf , ra th er t h an h ir ing a m id dle m an t o d o t h e jo b, bu t it s e em ed
co mple te ly pla u sib le . Far m ore pla u sibl e th an th e N atu re Fre ed om Force
r a n so m in g th e p an da.
O nly , th e F B I h ad m ad e it cl ea r th at th ey h ad n o int ere st in hea ring fr o m
m e.
O n t h e o th er h an d, th ey m ig h t li s te n to J .J . M cC ra ck en, who w ou ld a lw ay s
li s te n to his d au gh te r. I tu rn ed to Sum mer. “ Cou ld y ou  . . . ”
“T ell D ad dy a b ou t th is ?” sh e � n is h ed , hold ing u p h er p h one . “A lr e a d y o n
it .” S he s et a bou t te xtin g h im .
“Y o u s hou ld te ll h im abou t th e ch upaca bra , t oo,” E th an s uggeste d .
D ash a nd V io le t b oth p elt e d h im w it h cr um ple d na pkins .
 e b ell r a n g, sig n ali n g t h e e n d o f lu n ch .  e e nt ir e ca fe te ria e ch oed w it h a
co lle ctiv e gro an as all th e stu dent s re a li z e d it w as tim e to re tu rn to cl ass.
E very o n e a t o u r t a b le s to od s lo w ly , m ilk ing o u r r e m aini ng f r e e t im e f o r a s lo ng
as w e co uld .

I g ra b bed th e tr a sh fr o m m y sa ck lu n ch a nd lo oked to S u m mer, w ho w as
still te xtin g h er f ath er. “ Wan t m e t o t oss y ou r s tu ff too?”
“ M y h ero ,” sh e te a se d , bu t sh e � ash ed a sm ile th at sa id sh e re a lly d id
a p pre cia te it.
X avie r l ooked to Vio le t. “ I’d b e h ap py t o t ak e y ou r t ra sh .”
“ A w , th an ks,” s he s aid , s li d in g it o ver t o h im .
Xavie r b ea m ed a s th ou gh a p rin ce ss h ad k ni gh te d h im , w hich co n� rm ed
m y su sp icio ns th at h e h ad a h uge cr ush o n her.  is w asn ’t e x act ly incr ed ibl e
dete ctiv e w ork , th ou gh . M ost b oys in m y cl ass h ad a h uge cr ush o n Vio le t.
X avie r e a g erly g ra b bed h er g arb ag e a n d h ea d ed to th e cl ose st tr a sh ca n wit h
m e.
“ Y o u r ea lly d on’t k now an yth in g e ls e a bou t th e L i P in g ca se ?” h e a sk ed m e.
“ I d on’t ,” I lie d . “  e F B I d oesn ’t w an t m e in vo lv ed .”
I n t r u th , I w ou ld h av e lo ved t o t e ll h im w hat w as r e a lly g o ing o n, fr o m m y
in �lt r a tin g t h e m ob ile u n it w it h S u m mer t o b eing t h re a te ne d b y t h e m an in a
pan da co stu m e. I h ate d k eep in g s e cr ets fr o m fr ie nd s. B ut t h e F B I h ad w arn ed
m e t o k eep m y m ou th s h ut, an d I k n ew t h at if I t o ld X av ie r o nl y o ne t h ing , h e
w ou ld n’t b e s a tis � ed . H e’d h ou n d m e u nt il I ’d s h are d e v ery th ing , and t h en he’d
p ro b ab ly te ll V io le t, w ho’d te ll so m eo ne e ls e , an d w ord w ou ld e v ent ually g et
b ack to th e F B I th at I w as sh ootin g m y m ou th o ff . It w as ea sie r to sim ply
p re te n d th at I k n ew n oth in g at all, no m atte r h ow m uch X av ie r g ru m ped
a b ou t it.
“ I’l l b et y o u k n ow m ore th an y o u’r e le tting o n, ” h e sa id a ccu sing ly . “Y o u
alw ay s d o.”
“ N ot th is tim e,” I rep li e d .
B efo re X avie r co uld arg u e th is any m ore , Tim Jim B ark sd ale ca me alo ng .
 e B ark sd ale tw in s w ere b u lli e s a nd id io ts . A lo t o f k id s jo ked (be hind th eir
b ack s) t h at t h ey ’d b een b orn w it h o nl y o ne b ra in to s h are b etw een th em —a nd
th at it w as d efe ctiv e. Sin ce th ey w ere a lw ay s to geth er a n d no o ne co uld te ll
t h em apart, w e a ll r efe rre d to th em as T im Jim .
“Y o u’r e actu ally th ro w in g fo od aw ay ?” eit h er T im o r Jim ta u n te d X av ie r
cr uelly . “ I th ou gh t y ou a te e very th ing you s aw , F ats o .”
X avie r d id h is b est to ig n ore th em , kno wing th at any re sp ons e h e g av e
w ou ld o nly g et h im in m ore tr ou ble .

As h e w en t t o d u m p h is t r a sh , th ou gh , T im Jim s w att e d it o u t o f h is h and s,
sca tte rin g it a ll o ver th e � oor.
“ H ey !” X avie r s hou te d b efo re h e c ou ld t hink abo ut i t.
“ W hat? ” T im o r Jim ch alle n ged , lo om ing o ver h im . “Y o u g o t a p ro bl em
w it h u s?”
“ T im Jim !” D ash y elle d . “ Back off!”
T im Jim t u rn ed , sta rtle d , to s e e D ash a n d E th an g la ring a t t h em . M y f r ie nd s
were m uch to u gh er a n d str o n ger th an th ey w ere , and T im Jim k ne w it .  ey
q u ick ly r a is e d t h eir h an ds, sh ow in g t h ey m ea n t no h arm . “W e w ere n ’t ca using
a n y tr ou ble ,” o ne o f th em said .
“P ick th at tr a sh u p,” E th an to ld th em , and th ey ins ta n tly scr am ble d to d o
it .
X avie r a nd I lau gh ed a t th is .
“ L au gh n ow , while yo u ca n,” T im o r Jim th re a te ne d u s. “Y o u w on’t be
sm ili n g n ext yea r, w hen y o u r b oyfr ie nd s g ra d u ate a nd w on’t b e h ere t o p ro te ct
y o u f ro m us.”
“ A re n ’t y ou g ra d u atin g to o?” I p oint ed o ut.
“ N op e,” th e o th er b ro th er s a id , li k e it w as s o m eth ing to b e p ro u d o f. “W e
�un ked .  ey ’r e h old in g u s b ack ne xt y ea r. S o w atch out.”
 ey p lu n ked t h e t r a sh i n t h e ca n a n d t h en, since D ash a n d E th an w ere s till
k eep in g a n e ye o n th em , s lu n k o ut o f t he ca fe te ria .
I fe lt m y s to m ach s in k in to m y s h oes. I’d a lr e a d y be en upse t a b ou t t h e fa ct
th at D ash , Eth an , V io le t, an d— most im porta n tly —S um mer w ere m oving o n
to h ig h s ch ool n ext yea r. B ut I ’d a t le a st e x p ect ed t o be f r e e o f T im Jim a s w ell.
 e n ew s t h at t h e g o od k id s w ere le a v ing a nd t h e b ad k id s w ere s ta y ing r e a lly
r a ttle d m e.
X avie r lo oked sh ak en a s w ell. Being a sh ort, heft y k id m ad e h im a m uch
big ger ta rg et fo r th ugs li k e T im Jim th an I w as— alt h ou gh I ’d h ad m y s h are o f
ru n -in s w it h th em .
“W hy d o th ey h av e to b e su ch je rk s?” I m utte re d a s w e � le d o u t o f th e
ca fe te ria . “  ere ’s j u st n o r ea so n f or i t.”
“ O h, b ully in g a lw ay s h ap pen s f or a rea so n, ” X av ie r t old m e.
I tu rn ed to him , s tr u ck by th e th ou gh t. “ W hat? ”

“T im a n d J im d on’t f e el g o od a b ou t t h em se lv es,” X av ie r e x p la ine d. “S o t h ey
tr y t o m ak e t h em se lv es fe el b ette r b y d em ea n ing o th er p eo p le .  at’s w hat t h e
re se a rch on b ully in g cl aim s, a t l ea st.”
“ R ig h t,” I a g re ed , alt h ou gh I w asn ’t r e a lly t h ink ing a bo ut T im Jim a ny more .
I w as th in kin g a b ou t th e o th er pe rso n who’d th re a te ne d m e r e ce nt ly : th e m an
in th e p an da co stu m e.
I’d been w ork in g un der th e ass u m ptio n th at Ja m es V an Am bu rg —o r
whoev er it m ig h t h av e b een — had th re a te ne d m e to k eep m e a w ay fr o m th e
ca se . B ut n ow t h at I t h ou gh t a b ou t it , th at lo gic was � aw ed . A ft e r a ll, th e F B I
w as r u n nin g th e in vestig atio n , not m e. If a ny th ing , all th e m an in th e p and a
costu m e had don e w as re v ea l his pre se nce in th e park —a nd possibl y his
id en tit y — which was a h uge m is ta k e. S o w hy h ad h e co me a ft e r m e?
A s X avie r h ad s aid , b ully in g a lw ay s h ap pene d f or a rea so n.
 e m an h ad n’t th re a te n ed m e u nt il a ft e r h e’d se en me ta lk ing to C hlo é
D olk art o u ts id e P an da P ala ce . H e’d ev en ex p re sse d co nce rn abo ut it , ask ing
w hy I w as s noop in g a ro u n d.
W hich in dica te d h e w as w orrie d I’d le a rne d so m eth ing im porta nt fr o m
C hlo é.
W as C hlo é in vo lv ed w it h th e cr im e, th en? O r d id sh e sim ply h av e so m e
crucia l k n ow le d ge a b ou t p an das th at Ja m es V an A m bu rg d id n’t w ant m e to
k n ow ? If sh e d id , M olly O ’M alle y h ad n’t sh ow n m uch int ere st in ta lk ing to
h er.
“ W hat’s w ro n g?” X avie r a sk ed .
I s n ap ped o u t o f m y th ou gh ts a n d r e a li z e d h e w as s till b esid e m e, w ea v ing
t h ro u gh th e cr ow ded h alls o n o ur w ay t o cl ass.
“ W hat d o y ou m ea n ?” I a sk ed , tr ying m y be st t o s ou nd no rm al.
“ Y o u’v e been on a w hole diff ere nt pla n et fo r th e la st m inu te ,” X av ie r
in fo rm ed m e. “Y o u w alk ed rig h t p ast y o u r lo ck er. D on’t y o u n eed bo oks fo r
yo u r n ext cl ass?”
“ S h oot. I do.” I spu n a ro u n d a nd h ea d ed ba ck the w ay I ’d co me.
X avie r fo llo w ed m e. “Y o u’v e h ad a n id ea a b ou t th e ca se , hav en ’t y o u ?” h e
ask ed . “ I k now th at l ook. Y ou g et i t w hen y ou’r e p utt ing thing s t ogeth er.”
“ I w asn ’t th in kin g a bou t th e ca se ,” I told h im , bu t i t w as a lie .
S o m eo n e h ad to talk to Chlo é D olk art, a nd t hey h ad t o d o i t f ast.

PA N DA P A LA CE
M y o rig in al p la n w as to co n vin ce so m eo n e els e to ta lk to C hlo é,
ra th er t h an m e. A ft e r a ll, th e la st t im e I ’d t a lk ed t o C hlo é, I’d b een assa u lt e d b y
a p an da w it h a g un .
U nfo rtu n ate ly , I co uld n’t � n d a n yo ne fr o m th e F B I to d o th e jo b. By th e
tim e th e s ch ool b us d ro p ped m e o ff a t F unJ ung le , t he f ed s h ad cl ea re d o ut.  e
pan da t r u ck w as s till r o p ed o ff a s a cr im e s ce ne , bu t t h ere w as n o o ne a ro u nd i t
a n d t h e m ob ile c rim e u n it w as g o ne . If M olly O ’M alle y o r a n y o th er a g ent w as
still u p in t h e a d m in is tr a tio n b u ild ing , I h ad n o w ay o f � nd ing o u t. I co uld n’t
p ass th ro u gh se cu rit y w it h ou t an ap point ment , and n o one w as go ing to
s ch ed u le o ne f or m e.
If S u m mer h ad b een t h ere , sh e co uld h av e g o tte n me u p. M ay be s h e co uld
h av e ev en en co ura g ed h er fa th er to p re ssu re th e F B I to ta lk to C hlo é. But
Su m mer h ad a h orse b ack -r id in g le sso n sch ed u le d a ft e r s ch ool, an d h er m oth er
re fu se d to le t h er sk ip it . Su m mer sw ore sh e w ou ld co me b y F unJ ung le as
q u ick ly a s p ossib le a ft e r h er l esso n, bu t I w as o n m y o wn u nt il t hen.
I b rie � y co nsid ere d g o in g to H oene kker, bu t I w as su re th at w ou ld be a
w aste o f tim e. A ft e r a ll, th e F B I h ad d is m is se d him fr o m th eir in vestig atio n ,
an d h e’d n ev er b een a b ig fa n o f h av ing to w ork w it h m e; he’d o nl y d one it
b eca use J .J . had o rd ere d h im to . If I a sk ed h im to ta lk to C hlo é fo r m e, he’d
p ro b ab ly te ll m e to stick to my o wn bu sine ss.
S o I w en t m yse lf . Y es, it w as a lit tle r eck le ss, bu t i t s eem ed f ar l ess d ang ero u s
th an m an y t h in gs I ’d d on e w hile inv estig ating be fo re . I w as m ere ly h ea d ing t o

an em pty exh ib it to ta lk to a ke ep er, not sw im ming in th e h ip p o ta nk o r
cl im bin g o nto th e r oof o f W orld o f R ep tile s.
E ven s o, I w as ca utio u s a bou t it, k eep ing ale rt f or a nyo ne els e s usp ici ou s a s I
h ea d ed over. My gu ess w as th at Ja m es Van Am bu rg —o r w hoev er had
th re a te n ed m e— wou ld n’t b e lu rk ing a ro u nd P an da P ala ce i n a L i P ing co stu m e
an ym ore . B ut t h ere w as a g o od ch an ce h e, or s o m eo ne e ls e w ho w ork ed f o r t h e
bad g u ys, w as s till k eep in g a n e y e o n th e p la ce . I y an ked a b ase ba ll ca p d ow n
over m y e y es a n d fe ll in w it h la rg e g ro u ps o f p eo p le so I w ou ld n’t lo ok li k e I
w as a k id o n m y o wn.
 ere w ere no cr ow ds aro u n d Pand a Pala ce . Every o ne se em ed to be
av o id in g th e p la ce , lik e it h ad b ad k arm a.
I sli p ped in sid e th e e xh ib it .  e int erio r co ntinu ed th e C hine se th em e o f
th e e xte rio r, ce nte re d a ro u n d s o m e la rg e b am boo g ard ens w here L i P ing —a nd
ev en tu ally t h e m ale p an da— wou ld b e o n dis p la y. It w as b ea u tif u l, bu t w it h ou t
to u ris ts o r p an das, it w as a ls o e ch oey a nd s ad , l ik e a n a ban done d h ou se .
C hlo é D olk art w as s it tin g in sid e t h e e x h ibi t, in one o f t h e g ard ens , re a d ing
a b ook. Sh e h ad p ro p ped a fo ld ing ch air b y a li t tle m an -m ad e cr eek a nd w as
sit tin g in t h e s h ad e o f a C hin ese e lm t r e e. It lo oked li k e a r e a lly lo vely p la ce t o
r e a d , alt h ou gh I w as q u it e su re sh e w asn ’t su ppose d to b e sit ting th ere a t a ll,
m uch le ss r e a d in g o n co mpan y t im e. B ut t h en, sh e d id n’t h av e a n a ct ual p and a
to ta ke ca re o f.
 ere w as a larg e s heet o f g la ss b etw een m e a nd C hlo é. D esp it e t he m ult ip le
D O N OT K N O CK O N G LA SS s ig n s, I knock ed o n th e g la ss.
S ta rtle d , C hlo é p ro m ptly t o p ple d o u t o f h er ch air a n d d ro p ped h er bo ok in
t h e cr eek .
W hen s he s aw it w as o nly m e, s he r ela x ed , t hen g ra b be d t he bo ok o ut o f t he
w ate r a n d p oin te d to w ard a n e m plo yee a cce ss d oor to th e r ig h t o f th e g la ss. I
w en t o ver t h ere a n d w ait e d .  e d oor, li k e e v ery o th er e m plo yee a cce ss d oor a t
F un Ju n gle , h ad a co ded e ntr y s yste m w it h a n e le ct ro ni c k ey p ad .
A ft e r a f e w s e co nds, C hlo é o p en ed i t f r o m t h e o th er s id e, gla n ce d a ro u nd t o
s e e if I w as a lo n e, th en u sh ere d m e ins id e. “C rip es, T ed dy. Yo u ne arly g av e m e
a h ea rt a tta ck .”
“ S o rr y . I w as o nly tr yin g to get y ou r a tt e nt io n. ”

Chlo é le d m e d ow n a co ncr ete h allw ay w it h w ind ow s t h at lo oked o u t o nt o
th e e xh ib it , tr y in g t o s h ak e t h e w ate r o ff h er b ook t h e w hole w ay. “I k no w I ’m
n ot s u ppose d t o b e in t h e e xh ib it li k e t h at,” s h e s a id g u ilt ily . “B ut I ’m r e q u ir e d
to s ta y h ere w hile I ’m on d uty , a nd it’s a lot ni cer o ut t here t han it i s i n h ere .”
S h e le d m e i n to h er o ffi ce . I co uld i m med ia te ly s e e h er p oint .  e r o om w as
la rg e, bu t d ark an d cra mped , as it se em ed to b e d esig ne d m ore fo r sto ring
p an da su ppli e s th an g ettin g a n y w ork d one . Sav e fo r a sm all d esk , th e ro om
w as m ostly s h elv es.  ey w ere � lle d w it h p la stic to ys f o r L i P ing , as w ell a s lo ts
o f ca nis te rs o f f o od a n d s h ea v es o f b am boo t h at w ere t u rni ng b ro w n, now t h at
th ere w as n o p an da to feed it to .
On t h e p lu s s id e, t h ou gh , th e r o om s m elle d f a nt astic. Much b ette r t h an any
o th er o ffi ce at F un Ju n gle , m ost o f w hich reek ed o f m usk a nd a nim al p ee.
I s niff ed th e a ir . “ Is th at cin nam on ?”
“ Y u p.” C hlo é p oin te d t o a s h elf w here s e v era l r e sta u ra n t- s iz e t u bs o f it w ere
li n ed u p. “ L i P in g lo ves it . T urn s o u t, diff ere nt p and as a re int o d iff ere nt s m ells .
S o m e li k e h on ey su ck le , so m e li k e w in te rg re en o il.  ere ’s o ne in San D ie g o
w ho’s in to ru bbin g a lco hol.  e id ea is , once L i P ing g ets h ere , w hene ver w e
w an t to lu re h er o u t o n d is p la y fo r th e to u ris ts , we ca n ju st sp rink le so m e
cin nam on a ro u n d th e e xh ib it a nd s he’l l r un r ig h t o ut.”
 e m en tio n of cin nam on jo gged m y m em ory a bit . I co uld n’t qu it e
r e m em ber th e w hole co nversa tio n I’d h ad w it h C hlo é th e d ay b efo re , bu t it
s e em ed to m e th at sh e’d sa id so m eth ing a b ou t fo od th at w as im porta nt . “S o
p an das e at s tu ff b esid es b am boo?” I a sk ed .
C hlo é a nsw ere d m y q uestio n w it h a q uestio n. “ Is t his a bo ut L i P ing ?”
“ K in d o f.”
“ D id y ou e ver te ll th e F B I to talk to me?”
 e qu estio n in sta n tly co n�rm ed th at M olly had n’t both ere d to se nd
a n yo n e b y. I f e lt a � ash o f a n noyance . B efo re I co uld r e a lly t h ink a bo ut w hat I
w as d oin g, I lie d a nd s aid , “ Yes. A nd they s ent m e.”
“ In ste a d o f a n a gen t? ”
“  ey ’r e r ea lly b usy  . . . a nd th ey � gu re d I k new y ou a nyh ow . . . . ”
“A nd yo u’v e so lv ed all th ose oth er cr im es h ere ,” C hlo é ad ded , co ming
a ro u n d to th e id ea . “P lu s, I’l l b et y o u k n ow m ore a b ou t a n im als th an any o f
th em do.”

“R ig h t,” I said . “ So  . . . a bou t th e f o od ?”
“ O h. R ig h t!” C hlo é b ea m ed , ex ci te d to b e a p art o f th e inv estig atio n. “In
th e w ild , p an das e at m ost ly b am boo. I t’s a bou t n in ety -n in e pe rce nt of t heir d ie t.
B ut th ey o cca sio n ally a ls o e at th ing s l ik e s m all r od ent s o r m usk d eer f aw ns .”
“ W hoa,” I said . “ Pan das e at m ea t? ”
“ W ell, th ey ’r e b ea rs . A lt h ou gh h ere , w e w ere n ’t re a lly p la nni ng o n fe ed ing
t h em m ea t. M ost z o os d on’t . B ut w e d id int end to su pple m ent th eir ba mbo o
wit h oth er th in gs.” C hlo é p oin te d to m ore la rg e ca niste rs on th e sh elv es.
“ S u gar ca ne, rice , h ig h -� ber b is cu it s . P lu s s o m e m ore p eris h abl e s tu ff li k e y am s
an d a pple s.”
“ C an p an das g et b y w it h ou t a ny ba mboo a t a ll, t hen? ”
“I s u ppose th ey c o u ld , bu t b eh avi ora lly , th at p ro ba bly w ou ld n’t be th e be st
id ea .  e co nce pt b eh in d a ll p an da co nserv atio n is t o e v ent ually r e le a se p and as
b ack in to th e w ild . Pro b ab ly n ot L i P ing h erse lf , bu t m ay be h er o ff sp ring . So
th e p an das n eed to k n ow h ow to fo ra g e in th eir na tu ra l h abi ta t, and th at
m ea n s le a rn in g t o e a t b am boo. L ots o f i t . M ost o f a p an da’s w ak ing li f e i s s p ent
e a tin g. In th e w ild , th ey ’l l sp en d ab ou t six te en hou rs a day doing it . In
ca ptivity , we tr y to sim ula te th at.”
“ A nd I g uess th eir d ig estiv e tra cts are d esig ne d f or ba mboo t oo?” I a sk ed .
“A ctu ally ,” C hlo é r ep li e d , “ th ey ’r e no t.”
“ R ea lly ?”
“ R ea lly . Lik e I sa id , th e p an da is a be ar, so it h as th e d ig estiv e tr a ct o f a
ca rn iv o re . M ea n w hile , b am boo is a g ra ss.”
“ It is ?”
“  e fa ste st- g ro w in g g ra ss o n e a rth . So m e v arie tie s ca n g ro w a fe w inch es a
d ay. N ow , gra ss is h ard e n ou gh t o d ig est w hen an a n im al is d esig ne d f o r it , li k e
a c o w .  ey h av e r e a lly lo n g d ig estiv e tr a ct s w it h fo u r s to m ach s to h and le th e
jo b. A nd th ey r e g u rg it a te th eir cu d to ch ew it r e p ea te d ly . B ut a p and a d oesn ’t
h av e a n yth in g li k e th at. Its d ig estiv e tr a ct is sh ort, li k e o u rs. So it ba re ly g ets
a n y n utr ie n ts a t a ll fr o m t h e b am bo o.  at’s w hy t h ey h av e t o e a t s o m uch o f
it .”
O ur co nversa tio n fr o m th e d ay be fo re ca me b ack to m e. “R ig h t. Yeste rd ay
y o u s aid th ey h av e to eat tw en ty -� ve p ou nd s a d ay.”

“More th an tw en ty -� ve,” C hlo é co rre cte d. “A bi g m ale ca n ea t u p to fo rty
p ou n ds o f b am boo a d ay. B ut th e a vera g e i s a ro u nd thir ty .”
S o m eth in g cl ick ed in m y m in d. I su ddenl y re a li z e d w hat th e im porta nt
th in g I n eed ed to k n ow a b ou t p and as w as. “S o if th ey e a t th at m uch ba mbo o
an d th ey ca n’t d ig est it w ell, h ow m uch do t hey g o t o t he ba th ro om ?”
“ C on sta n tly ,” C hlo é sa id . “ ey ’l l poop fo rty tim es a day. Food go es
str a ig h t th ro u gh th em . Feed o n e a n a p ple , an d it ’l l be o u t th e o th er e nd in
� ft e en m in ute s.  e b am boo ta k es a b it lo n ger, th ou gh . It’s n ot u n usu al fo r
th em to pro d u ce �ft y p ou n ds o f p oop in a day.”
“ B ut th at’s e ven m ore w eig h t th an t hey t ak e i n, ” I p oint ed o ut.
“ E xa ctl y.  e w ate r th ey d rin k co mbine s w it h th e fo od in th eir d ig estiv e
tr a cts . It co mes o u t in th ese b ig o ld n uggets a b ou t th e siz e a nd sh ap e o f a n
a v o ca do.”
“ H oly co w.”
“ Y o u m ea n h oly so m eth in g e ls e ,” C hlo é sa id . “E very o ne e ls e a t F unJ ung le
t h in ks t h is is g o in g t o b e a b ig g la m ou r jo b. L ik e, I’m ju st g o ing t o s it h ere a nd
p et t h e p an das a ll d ay. B ut t h ey ’r e a lo t o f w ork .  ey ’r e t o u gh t o fe ed , th ey ’r e
n ea rly im possib le to b re ed , an d m an , th at’s a lo t o f p oop to cl ea n up ev ery
d ay.”
I t’s st ill a lo t le ss th an th e e le p h an ts, I th ou gh t. B ut I d id n’t s a y it . A s it w as,
m y m in d w as ra cin g w it h o th er id ea s. I’d fo u nd o u t w hat I ne ed ed to k no w
fr o m C hlo é. A nd it ch an ged e v ery th ing a bo ut th e inv estig atio n. I ne ed ed to
g et in to uch wit h th e F B I rig ht a w ay.
“ W ell, th an ks f or y ou r tim e,” I said , e dging tow ard t he d oor.
U nfo rtu n ate ly , C hlo é se em ed d esp era te to ta lk . Sh e’d be en fo rg o tte n in all
t h e ch ao s a b ou t t h e p an da. A la rg e p art o f h er jo b was s u ppose d t o be t a lk ing
t o g u ests a b ou t th e p an das, bu t s h e h ad n’t h ad a ch ance to d o it y et. So I w as
h er t e st a u die n ce . “W an t t o k n ow s o m eth ing e ls e a m azing a bo ut p an das?” sh e
ask ed . “ eir ja w m uscl es a re m assiv e! I t co mes f r o m a ll t h at b am boo ch ew ing .
 at’s w hy t h eir fa ce s lo ok s o r o u nd . W hich is p art o f t h e r e a so n th ey lo ok s o
cu te to us. H um an b ab y f ace s a re r o u nd too.”
“ F ascin atin g,” I said . “ So rr y , b ut I rea lly h av e t o g o. . . . ”
“O r d id y o u k n ow t h at a p an da is o nl y t h e s iz e o f a s tick o f b u tte r w hen it ’s
b orn ? A nd it o n ly w eig h s t h re e t o � ve o u nce s.  at’s 1 /900t h t h e w eig h t o f it s

moth er.”
N orm ally , I w ou ld h av e lo ved t o h ea r m ore p and a f a ct s, bu t t im e w as o f t h e
esse n ce an d I w as d esp era te . I pu lle d o u t m y p h one , pre te nd ing a te x t h ad
co me in , an d fa k ed re a d in g it . “O h m an !” I g asp ed . “ is is fr o m th e F B I! I
h av e to rep ort b ack to th em rig ht a w ay !”
“ O oh !” C hlo é e xcl aim ed . “ Has th ere be en a bre a k i n t he ca se ?”
“ I th in k s o.  an ks f or a ll y ou r h elp !”
“ H ap py to g iv e it . A nd if y o u w an t to co me b ack to h ea r so m e m ore , fe el
fr e e. I’m h ere a ll d ay. B y m yse lf . W it h no th ing e ls e t o d o.” S h e lo oked s o s a d , I
alm ost s tu ck a ro u n d f o r a f e w a d dit io na l p an da f a ct s. B ut I co uld n’t . B eca use if
I w as rig h t ab ou t w hat I w as th ink ing , th en th e F B I w as m ak in g a h uge
m is ta k e in th eir in vestig atio n .
“I’l l co me b ack s o on ,” I t o ld h er, th en du ck ed o u t o f t h e o ffi ce , w ou nd m y
way b ack th ro u gh P an da P ala ce , a nd hurrie d a cr oss F unJ ung le .
A s I d id , I quick ly d ia le d S um mer o n m y p hone .
Sh e p ick ed u p o n th e s eco nd rin g. “ Hey. W hat’s u p?”
“ I le a rn ed s o m eth in g im porta n t a bo ut t h e p an da ca se . I n eed t o t a lk t o t h e
F B I rig ht a w ay.”
“ It m ig h t b e to o l ate f or th at.  ey ’r e a rre sting Carlo s G om ez r ig h t no w.”
“ W hat? ”
“ It’s a ll o ver th e n ew s. W here h av e y ou be en? ”
“In vestig atin g! A nd th e F B I is w ro n g! I d on’t th in k th e N FF h ad a n yth in g
to d o w it h th is !”
S u m mer s a id s o m eth in g e ls e , bu t I co uld n’t m ak e it o u t. I w as cr ossing t h e
dea d z on e f or ce ll s ervice at F un Ju ng le .
“ H old o n, I ca n’t h ea r y ou ,” I said .
 ere w as a lo t o f sta tic on th e li ne , an d th en I ca ugh t a fa int bi t o f
Su m mer’s v oice . “ I ca n b are ly h ea r y ou e it h er. Y ou’r e  . . . ”
I sto p ped a n d b ack ed u p a fe w fe et, w here th e re ce ptio n had b een mere ly
lo u sy , ra th er th an h orrib le . “ Su m mer? H ello ?”
“ . . . gettin g to Fun Ju n gle rig ht n ow  . . . ” s he s aid . “ Meet . . . P ola r P av i . . . ”
“M eet y ou a t P ola r P avil io n ?” I rep ea te d .
 ere w as so m eth in g th at so u n ded v ag u ely li k e “ y es” fo llo w ed b y o ne la st
s n ip pet o f co nversa tio n : “ . . . to o h ot o uts id e . . . ” A ft e r t hat, t he ca ll d ro p ped .

I to ok o ff for P ola r P avil io n .
Su m mer w as rig h t; it w as w ay to o h ot o u ts id e. Even hotte r th an th e d ay
b efo re . I had n’t r un f ar b efo re I ’d s w ea te d r ig h t t hro u gh m y s hir t.
I w as alm ost at P ola r P avil io n w hen I h ea rd so m eo ne sh ou t m y na me.
“ T ed dy!”  ere w as a scr eech o f tir e s to m y le ft , fo llo w ed b y th e scr ea m o f
so m e to uris ts a nd a th um p.
I t u rn ed t o s e e M arg e O ’M alle y a t t h e w heel o f h er g o lf ca rt. Sh e w as ba ck
on t h e jo b — an d ca usin g t r o u ble a s u su al. Sh e a p pea re d t o h av e s la m med int o
a to u ris t an d k n ock ed th e p oor fe llo w int o th e la nd sca ping . H is p ale le g s
w av ed in th e a ir w hile th e r est o f h im w as b urie d h ea d � rst i n a shru bbe ry .
“ W hy d on’t y o u w atch w here y o u’r e g o ing ?” M arg e sna pped a t h im , th en
re tu rn ed h er a tte n tio n to me. “ Ted dy! W ait r ig h t t here ! I ne ed t o t alk t o y ou !”
I k ep t o n r u n nin g.  e la st t h in g I n eed ed a t t h e m om ent w as M arg e t r y ing
t o h orn in o n m y in vestig atio n . Sh e w ou ld n’t be a n y h elp a t a ll— and s h e w as
p ro b ab ly th e o n ly p erso n a t F unJ ung le w ho M olly O ’M alle y w ant ed to h ea r
fr o m less th an m e.
L uck ily , M arg e co uld n’t fo llo w m e rig h t aw ay. Sh e still h ad to h elp th e
to u ris t sh e’d b ow le d o ver. So sh e k ep t be llo w ing a t m e, as th ou gh th at m ig h t
w ork . “ Ted dy! T ed dy!!! T ed ddddd dyyyyyyy!!!!”
I p re te n ded li k e I d id n’t h ea r h er, w hich M arg e m ust h av e k no wn was a n
act. Sh e w as so lo u d, peo p le in th e p ark ing lo t h ad p ro ba bly h ea rd h er.  e
next tim e sh e sa w m e, sh e’d d e� n it e ly b e a ng ry w it h m e, bu t a t th e m om ent ,
th at w as a rela tiv ely m in or p ro b le m .
I sh oved th ro u gh th e d oors in to th e P ola r P av ili o n. e A rct ic air h it m e
li k e a s la p in t h e f a ce . N ow t h at I w as s o s w ea ty , it w as a ct ually a b it to o co ld in
th e e xh ib it . It fe lt a s t h ou gh a ll t h e w ate r o n my bo dy h ad ins ta n tly t u rne d t o
ice , much of it in very un co mfo rta b le pla ce s, li k e m y arm pit s and m y
un derw ea r.
I g la n ce d a ro u n d f o r S u m mer b u t d id n’t s e e h er. It w as f e ed ing t im e f o r t h e
pen gu in s, so a lm ost a ll t h e g u ests w ere cr ow ded a ro u nd t h at t a n k, ra th er t h an
th e p ola r b ea rs. In fa ct, th e p ola r be ar v ie w ing w as a bo ut a s e m pty a s I ’d e v er
se en it .  e b ea rs th em se lv es w ere n ’t p u tt ing o n much o f a sh ow .  ey w ere
m ere ly ly in g o n th e ice , half - a sle ep . So e v en th e fe w to u ris ts in th e a re a w ere
m ig ra tin g to ward th e p en gu in s.

If S u m mer w an te d to m eet m e, I � gu re d sh e w ou ld n’t be in th e cr ow ds;
sh e’d b e o u t w here I co uld s e e h er. O nly, giv en th at I h ad n’t h ea rd m uch o f h er
ca ll, I had n o id ea w hat s he e ven t hou gh t h er E T A a t P ola r P avil io n w ou ld b e.
I � sh ed m y p hon e o ut to see if she’d t ex te d m e m ore i nf orm atio n.
A s I d id , I su dden ly b eca me aw are o f o ne o th er p erso n in th e p av ili o n.
So m eo n e w as co min g u p b eh in d m e v ery q u ick ly .  e th ud o f h is fe et o n th e
� oor g av e m e th e u nea sy s en se o f t ro u bl e a ppro ach ing .
I s pu n a ro u n d to face him .
O r, a t l ea st, I trie d.
B efo re I co uld , w hoev er it w as g ra b be d m e fr o m be hind a n d h ois te d m e
in to th e a ir .
 en h e th re w m e o ver th e ra ili n g i nt o t he p ola r be ar e xh ibi t.

PO LA R B EA RS
Even t h ou gh I w as o n ly in t h e a ir f o r a s e co nd, if t h at, it f e lt a s t h ou gh
tim e w as str e tch ed o u t. Each fr a ct io n of th at se co nd se em ed co nsid era bl y
lo n ger, a s s o m uch was h ap pen in g a t o nce .
As I � ew th ro u gh th e air , I to rq u ed m y b od y aro u nd , gra sp ing fo r m y
atta ck er, �gu rin g th at m y o n ly r e co urse w as to g ra b o n to h im a nd th us, keep
fr o m g o in g o ver t h e r a il. I d id n’t s p in qu ick ly e no ugh , th ou gh . H e’d m oved t o o
fa st a n d w as m uch str o n ger th an I w as, �ing ing m e su rp ris ing ly fa r o u t o ver
th e w ate r. I d id n’t h av e a ch an ce t o g ra b h im —a lt h ou gh I d id ca tch a g li m pse
o f h is f ace .
Ja m es V an A mbu rg .
E ven th ou gh th is g li m pse w as in cr ed ibl y br ie f, I still re co gni ze d th e bi g,
b u rly b od y a n d b ald h ea d fr o m th e p h oto M olly h ad s h ow n m e.  e lo ok o n
h is f a ce w as e erily s to ic, giv en w hat h e’d ju st d one t o m e. H e s h ow ed t h e s a m e
am ou n t o f e m otio n m ost p eo p le s how ed f or a � y t hey ’d s w att e d .
N o o n e e ls e in th e e xh ib it se em ed to h av e no tice d m e. Ja m es h ad ch ose n
th e p erfe ct tim e to atta ck . E very o ne els e w as w atch ing the p eng uins .
 e p ola r b ea rs n otice d m e, how ev er. I h ea rd bo th o f t h em h uff w it h w hat
m ig h t h av e b een e xcite men t o r h ung er.
I trie d to yell f or h elp .
B y th en it w as to o l ate . B efo re I co uld m ak e a sou nd , I hit t he w ate r.
I t w as fr e e zin g.  e sh ock o f it ins ta n tly m ad e m y m uscl es se iz e a nd m y
lu n gs co lla p se , ca tch in g a ny n ois e I w as a bo ut t o m ak e i n m y t hro at.

I q u ick ly sa n k b elo w th e su rfa ce . Ja m es h ad th ro w n me so h ard th at I
p lu n ged se v era l fe et d ow n b efo re sto p ping . I g o t a m ou th fu l o f w ate r, w hich
t a ste d d is g u stin gly o f s alt a nd ra w � sh a nd ch ille d m y i ns id es a s w ell.
 e m oat w as p ain te d b la ck s o th at th e p ola r b ea rs w ou ld s ta n d o u t w hen
vie wed fr o m a b ove. In sid e, it w as d ark a s a ca ve, w it h o nl y w ea k bl ue li g h t
� lt e rin g dow n th ro u gh th e ice ch unk s �oating on th e su rfa ce.  e co ld
s u rro u n ded m e a n d cr ush ed m e. It w as li k e w hen yo u g et a b ra in fr e e ze fr o m
ea tin g ice crea m , o nly th ro u gh ou t y ou r e nt ir e bo dy.
 e co ld cl ou ded m y b ra in , to o. I k n ew th ere w ere p ola r b ea rs in th e
exh ib it w it h m e. And I k n ew th at, if th e b ea rs d id n’t g et m e, th e icy w ate r
co uld m ak e m e h yp oth erm ic an d k ill m e a s w ell. I h ad to m ove q u ick ly if I
w an te d to li v e. But I co uld n’t g et m y li m bs to sta rt m oving th e rig h t w ay. I
str u ggle d to orie n t m yse lf a nd p ad d le u pw ard .
I h ad n’t h ad th e tim e to ta k e a g o od b re a th b efo re b eing th ro w n int o th e
w ate r. M y m uscl es a n d m y b ra in w ere scr ea m ing fo r o xy g en as I fo u gh t m y
way u pw ard .  e d ark n ess o f th e m oat s eem ed t o cl ose i n.
A nd t h en , m ir a cu lo u sly , I b u rst t h ro u gh t h e s u rfa ce . I cl onk ed m y h ea d o n
a ch un k o f ice and s uck ed in air , t hrille d t hat I w as s om eh ow still a li v e.
F or a few m ore s eco nds, a t l ea st.
 ere w as a lo u d g ru n t f r o m b eh ind m e. I s w iv ele d a ro u nd t o d is c o ver t h at
o n e o f t h e p ola r b ea rs h ad d ove in to t h e m oat a n d w as co ming f o r m e. A h uge
b lu r o f w hit e s li ce d th ro u gh th e w ate r.
“ H elp !” I y elle d , a s l ou d a s I co uld , t hen s wam lik e h eck .
A fe w m on th s b efo re , du rin g a d iff ere nt inv estig atio n, I h ad e nd ed u p in
t h e sh ark ta n k. And w hile th at h ad be en sca ry , I h ad kno wn th at sh ark s
gen era lly d on’t a tta ck h um an s. E sp eci ally s h ark s i n zo os, w hich a re w ell f e d a nd
co nte n t.
P ola r b ea rs w ere s om eth in g e ls e e nt ir e ly .
P ola r b ea rs in th e w ild o cca sio n ally sta lk ed h um ans . And th ey h ad be en
k n ow n t o m au l p eo p le w ho’d e n ded u p in t h eir z o o e xh ib it s . I w as s ig n i� ca ntly
s m alle r t h an t h e b ea rs, an d t h e s m ells t h at F unJ ung le p u m ped int o t h e e x h ibi t
kep t t h em s tim ula te d a n d r e a d y t o h unt ; to t h em , I w as p ote nt ia l p re y. E ven if
t h ey w ere n ’t h un gry , th ey w ere s till t errit o ria l, a nd I h ad inv ad ed t heir s pace .

I h ad fo u n d m yse lf in so m e d an gero u s sit u atio ns be fo re , bu t I’d ne ver fe lt
t h at I w as a ctiv ely b ein g h un te d be fo re . It w as t h e m ost t e rrif y ing t h ing I ’d e v er
e xp erie n ce d.
I sw am a w ay a s fa st a s I co uld , bu t w eig h ed d ow n b y m y w et cl oth es a nd
sh oes, I w as n o m atch for th e b ea r. I t q uick ly bo re d ow n o n m e.
I re a ch ed th e w all o f th e m oat w here I’d b een �ung o ver th e ra ili ng , bu t
th ere w as n o w ay t o cl im b o u t.  e s u rfa ce w as s li ck , an d s a fe ty w as s e v en fe et
a b ove m y h ea d .
 ere w as a t e rrif y in g g ro w l b eh ind m e.  e p ola r b ea r li f t e d it s h ea d fr o m
th e w ate r a n d ca me in f o r t h e k ill, so cl ose I co uld s m ell t h e s tink o f it s br ea th
fr o m its gap in g m ou th .
R ig h t b efo re it r ea ch ed m e, s om eth ing lan ded o n i t.
I t w as b ig a n d it d ro p ped r ig h t o nt o th e b ea r’s h ea d , m ak ing a n eno rm ou s
sp la sh li k e a d ep th ch arg e d eto n ating . I w as d ou se d w it h w ate r o nce a g ain.  e
sa lt stu n g m y e y es a n d cl ou ded m y v is io n, so I co uld n’t q u it e se e w hat w as
g o in g o n in fr o n t o f m e. I co uld o nl y m ak e o u t b lu rr y sh ap es.  e bi g w hit e
o n e, w hich I � gu re d w as th e p ola r b ea r, had b een driv en un derw ate r b y a bi g
ta n o ne.
I w ip ed m y e y es w it h m y h an ds, an d m y v is io n clea re d . W hat I s a w w as s o
a sto n is h in g, I th ou gh t m ay b e I still w asn ’t s eeing thing s q uit e r ig h t.
M arg e O ’M alle y w as in th e ta nk w it h m e.
Ju m pin g in li k e sh e’d d on e h ad be en ins ane , bu t sh e se em ed am azing ly
s e re n e in t h e f a ce o f d ea th . “H old o n, Ted dy,” s h e t o ld m e. “I’l l g et y o u o u t o f
h ere .”
 e b ea r r e co vere d q u ick ly , re su rfa ci ng be sid e u s w it h a r o ar. It r a is e d a p aw
th e s iz e o f a b ase b all m it t o u t o f th e w ate r, cl aw s e x te nd ed , int end ing to s w at
M arg e’s h ea d rig ht o ff h er n eck .
M arg e ca lm ly s pra y ed it in the e yes w it h p ep per s pra y.
N ow th at sh e’d b een b arre d fr o m u sing g u ns o r T ase rs, it w as th e o nl y
wea p on s h e w as s till a llo w ed t o ca rr y . It ca ugh t t h e b ea r co mple te ly b y s u rp ris e .
It y elp ed i n p ain , th en r e ele d a w ay f r o m u s a nd t h ra sh ed i n th e w ate r a s i t s e y es
b u rn ed .
“H a!” M arg e l au gh ed triu mph an tly . “ Not s o t ou gh no w, a re y ou ?”

Unfo rtu n ate ly , th ere w as still one m ore p ola r bea r in th e ex h ibi t.  e
se co nd o n e, w hich w as e v en b ig ger t h an t h e � rst, had n ow jo ine d t h e h unt . It
s ta lk ed to ward th e e dge o f its ice �oe, g ro w li ng om ino usly .
“ H ow m uch m ore s pra y d o y ou h av e?” I a sk ed .
“U h, th at’s it, ” M arg e s aid , n ot s o co n�dent anym ore .
“ T ed dy!” a v o ice a b ove m e y elle d . M y fa v o rit e v o ice in th e ent ir e w orld .
Su m mer. “ Catch !”
A n e m erg en cy li f e rin g p lu n ked int o th e w ate r ne xt to m e, att a ch ed to a
ro p e th at s nak ed u p o ver th e ra ili ng . I quick ly w ra p ped it a ro u nd m y t orso .
M ay b e I sh ou ld h av e o ff ere d M arg e th e ch ance to g o � rst. A ft e r a ll, sh e’d
s a v ed m y l if e . A nd it w ou ld h av e be en t he ch iv alr o u s t hing to d o.
B ut I w as w ell p ast ch iv alr y . I w as co ld an d w et an d sca re d —a nd I w as
re la tiv ely su re th at S u m mer co uld n’t p u ll M arg e o u t b y h erse lf . W hich m ea nt
n eit h er o f u s w ou ld g et o ut a li v e.
 e r op e w en t ta ut a s S um mer h au le d o n t he o th er e nd .
My a d re n ali n e w as k ick in g in w it h a v eng ea n ce . Even th ou gh th e w all w as
sli ck an d w et, I so m eh ow m an ag ed to � nd h and - an d fo oth old s on it . I
co uld n’t h av e s cra mble d o u t o n m y o w n, bu t it w as e no ugh t o g iv e S u m mer a
b it o f h elp a s s h e s tr u ggle d to r e e l m e in. In o nl y a fe w s e co nd s, I w as u p th e
w all, o ver th e ra ili n g, a nd b ack to safe ty .
M arg e w as s till in serio u s tr ou ble , t hou gh .
I sh ru gged o ff th e sa fe ty rin g so w e co uld u se it a g ain. ere w asn ’t e v en
tim e fo r a h ug fr o m S u m mer. Sh e to ok th e ring fr o m m e a n d th re w it ba ck
in to th e w ate r.
“ M arg e, g ra b o n!” s he y elle d .
In t h e e x h ib it , th e s e co nd p ola r be ar le a p ed f r o m t h e ice � oe, belly � op p ing
in to th e w ate r.
M arg e cl un g to th e rin g. Sh e d id n’t e v en both er to tr y p u tting it o ver h er
to rso ; th ere w as n o w ay i t w as g o ing t o � t a ro u nd h er bo dy. It w ou ld h av e be en
li k e tr y in g to g et a L if e S av ers ca nd y a ro u nd a p ota to .  e be st sh e co uld d o
w as s tick an a rm th ro u gh it a nd cl ing on t ig h t.
S u m mer a n d I h au le d a s h ard a s w e co uld o n th e ro p e, bu t it w as no u se .
W e co uld n’t b udge M arg e a n in ch.

Luck ily , help w as o n th e w ay. Peo p le w ere ra ci ng o ver fr o m th e p eng uin
t a n k. I re a li z e d , to m y a sto n is h m ent , th at I h ad b are ly b een in th e p ola r be ar
exh ib it an y tim e at all.  ou gh it fe lt as if I h ad � rst cr ie d fo r h elp h ou rs
e a rli e r, it h ad o n ly b een a m in ute , if th at.  e to u ris ts w ere co ming to th e
re scu e.
B eh in d th em , I ca ugh t a gli m pse o f Ja m es V an A m bu rg , his b ald h ea d
g le a m in g in th e b lu e li g h t o f th e p eng uin ta n k. N ow th at h is a tte m pt to k ill
m e h ad f aile d , h e w as � eein g th e s ce ne .
He w as h ea d in g th e o p posit e d ir e ct io n of th e cr ow d, sh oving p eo p le a sid e
le ft a nd rig ht.
“ S to p th at m an !” I y elle d . “ He’s th e o ne who t hre w m e i n! ”
It o n ly ca me o u t as a h oarse cr oak , th ou gh . M y th ro at w as fr ie d fr o m
yelli n g a n d sw allo w in g sa lt w ate r. M ost p eo p le e it h er d id n’t h ea r m e, or th ey
d id n’t b eli e v e m e, or t h ey k n ew th ere w as s o m eth in g m uch m ore im porta n t a t
sta k e: sa vin g M arg e. O nly o n e p erso n mad e a n atte m pt t o s to p J a m es, bu t t h e
big b ald m an s w atte d h im asid e l ik e a m osq u it o .
E very o n e els e g ra b bed th e ro p e an d y an ked o n it as h ard as th ey co uld ,
str a in in g to h au l in M arg e. I d id to o. In m y w et cl oth es, I w as fr e e zing , bu t I
co uld n’t ju st s it b y w hile M arg e w as in tr o u bl e. N ot a ft e r w hat s h e’d d one fo r
m e.
In t h e e xh ib it , th e � rst p ola r b ea r w as s till w aili ng in pain fr o m t h e p ep p er
sp ra y.  e s eco nd o ne h ad a lm ost r ea ch ed M arg e.
M arg e a im ed h er p ep per sp ra y ca niste r a t it a n d h op ed fo r th e be st. But
on ly a t in y t r ick le ca me o u t. So s h e t h re w t h e s p ra y bo ttle a t t h e be ar, cl onk ing
it o n th e h ea d .
 is d id n’t r ep el th e b ea r a t a ll. I ns te a d , i t g ot a ngrie r.
 ere w ere n ow o ver a d oze n p eo p le o n th e ro p e, th ou gh . W it h a m ig h ty
h ea v e, w e h ois te d M arg e o u t o f t h e w ate r. O r, at le a st, p art o f t h e w ay o u t o f i t .
I n ad dit io n to her usu al bu lk , her uni fo rm w as so ak ed , incr ea sing her
co nsid era b le w eig h t. W ate r ca sca ded o u t o f e v ery p ock et a nd cr ea se . A ll o f u s
w ork in g to geth er o nly m an ag ed to pull h er u p a few feet.
W hich m ea n t h er le g s w ere s till d ang li ng in th e w ate r.  e b ea r lu ng ed fo r
h er. M arg e s w un g h er f e et a w ay, bu t t h e be ar s n ag ged t h e le g o f h er p ant s w it h
th e cl aw s o f o ne p aw and p ulle d d ow n.

Now w e w ere in a t u g-o f- w ar, us v ersu s a p ola r b ea r, w it h M arg e s e rvin g a s
th e ro p e. Sh e cl un g to th e li f e p re se rv er a s tig h tly a s sh e co uld , bu t sh e w as
sli p pin g.
S o s he d ea lt w it h th e b ea r th e o nly w ay s he k new h ow : S he g ot a ngry a t i t.
“ L et g o o f m e, y ou s tu pid b ea r!” s he y elle d , k ick ing at i t w it h h er o th er f oot.
“ B ack off, o r I ’l l m ak e a rug o ut o f y ou !”
 e b ea r w as p u ttin g u p a h eck o f a � gh t. A ll o f u s o n th e r o p e w ere y ank ed
to w ard t h e r a ili n g a s t h e b ea r s tr u ggle d t o d ra g M arg e d ow n.  e r o p e s ta rte d
to s li d e th ro u gh o ur h an ds, b urn ing our p alm s.
 e se co nd b ea r sh ook o ff th e p ain in it s ey es and re jo ine d th e act io n,
sw im min g b ack to ward M arg e.
M ore p eo p le scr am ble d to h elp , g ra b bi ng w hat w as le ft o f th e ro p e and
cl in gin g o n tig ht.
A s th e se co nd b ea r b ore d ow n o n her, M arg e m an ag ed to � na ll y la nd a
g o od k ick on th e � rst. S he d ro ve h er f oot r ig h t i nt o i ts n ose .
 e b ea r r ea re d b ack and s nee ze d , l osing its g rip o n M arg e’s p an ts .
A ll o f u s o n t h e r o p e s u dden ly f o u nd o u rse lv es in a t u g-o f- w ar w it h no o ne
o n th e o th er en d. W e sa ile d b ack ward , cr ash ing to th e � oor, while M arg e
ro ck ete d u p a nd s la m med in to th e r aili ng .
“O uch !” sh e y elp ed , th en tu rn ed h er ang er o n th e p eo p le w ho h ad ju st
sa v ed h er l if e . “ Watch what y ou’r e d oing , you id io ts !”
F or a m om en t, it a p pea re d th at e v ery o ne w as co nsid ering le tting h er d ro p
b ack in to th e p ola r b ea r e xh ib it .
B ut w e d id n’t . In ste a d , w e h eld o n tig h t w hile M arg e cl am be re d o ver th e
ra ili n g to safe ty .
In th e e xh ib it , th e p ola r b ea rs g av e u p th e h unt a n d ca lm ly sw am ba ck to
th eir is la n d, a s th ou gh th is s ort o f t hing hap pene d e very d ay.
N ow S u m mer � n ally h ad t h e o p portu ni ty t o r u sh t o m y s id e. Sh e t h re w h er
a rm s a ro u n d m e a nd a sk ed , “ Are y ou a ll r ig h t? ”
“ Y es,” I said . “  an ks to you — an d M arg e.”
I t s e em ed li k e I s h ou ld b e e xh au ste d a ft e r t h e o rd ea l, bu t it h ad n’t t a k en all
t h at l on g, a nd m y b od y w as h um ming wit h a dre na li ne .
Marg e a p pea re d to b e h avin g th e s a m e e x p erie nce . Sh e d id n’t co lla p se w it h
e xh au stio n — or b oth er to th an k any one fo r th eir h elp . Ins te a d , sh e lo oked

aro u n d th e ro om , th en fr o w ned a n d a sk ed m e, “T ed dy, w here ’s th e je rk w ho
th re w y ou in th ere ?”
M uch o f th e cr ow d g asp ed , stu n ned to h ea r so m eo ne h ad d one th is o n
p u rp ose .
“ It w as J a m es V an A m bu rg ,” I s a id , point ing t o w ard t h e d oor. “H e r a n th at
w ay.”
“ H ow m uch of a h ea d s ta rt d oes h e h av e?” M arg e a sk ed .
“A t l ea st a m in ute ,” I rep li e d . “ We’l l ne ver ca tch him .”
“ M ay b e n ot o n f oot,” M arg e to ld m e. “ Luck ily , I hav e a v eh icl e.”

HO T P U RSU IT
M arg e’s g olf c a rt w as p a rk ed r ig h t o u ts id e th e P ola r P avil io n , ne xt
to a n o vertu rn ed t r a sh ca n t h at s h e h ad a p pare nt ly r u n int o w hile p ark ing it . A
dis g ru n tle d jan it o r w as s co op in g a ll t he s ca tte re d t ra sh int o a p la stic ba g.
M arg e sli d in to th e driv er’s se a t. Since sh e to ok up th e w hole th ing ,
Su m mer a n d I h ad t o ju m p in to t h e ba ckse a t. It w as p ro ba bly be tte r t h at w ay,
th ou gh ; neit h er o f u s w an te d to b e p re sse d u p a g ains t M arg e, w ho no w s ta nk
o f � sh g uts in addit io n to her u su al f un k.
N ot th at I s m elle d m uch b ette r m yse lf . Plu s, m y cl oth es w ere s till p artia lly
f r o ze n , w hile m y s hoes s qu elch ed w etly o n m y f eet.
N orm ally , I m ig h t h av e le ft M arg e t o t a k e u p t h e ch ase h erse lf , n ot w ant ing
t o e n d u p in m ore d an ger. B ut M arg e n eed ed t h e e xtra e y es t o k eep a lo oko u t
fo r J a m es V an A m bu rg in t h e cr ow ds— an d f r a n kly , I w ant ed t o m ak e s u re t h e
gu y p aid th e p rice for p it ch in g m e i nt o t he p ola r be ar m oat.
“  ere h e is !” I shou te d , p oin tin g.
In th e dis ta n ce , Ja m es V an A m bu rg w as ra ci ng th ro u gh th e cr ow ded
co nco urse , h ea d in g to ward th e p ark e xit .
M arg e p u n ch ed t h e a cce le ra to r.  e g o lf ca rt t o ok o ff w it h s u rp ris ing s p eed ,
n ea rly � atte n in g th e ja n it o r, w ho h ad to le a p o u t o f th e w ay. H e d ro p ped th e
bag o f t r a sh h e’d co lle cte d, an d M arg e p ro m ptly r a n r ig h t o ver it , sca tte ring a ll
t h e g arb ag e o nce again .
 e ja n it o r sh ou te d so m eth in g at us th at th e FunJ ung le Em plo yee
H an dbook e xp re ssly f orb ad e e m plo yees t o s ay i n f ro nt of t he g uests .

To p u rsu e Ja m es, w e h ad to cu t d ir e ct ly a cr oss A dvent ure R oad , th e m ain
r o u te a ro u n d t h e p ark . It w as w all- to -w all t o u ris ts , bu t t h at d id n’t s lo w M arg e
fo r a n in sta n t. Sh e ju st p lo w ed str a ig h t a h ea d a nd le t e v ery o ne e ls e fe nd fo r
th em se lv es.
T ou ris ts sca tte re d , scr ea m in g, as th e ca rt bore dow n on th em .  ey
scra mble d o n to b en ch es, dove int o th e la n dsca ping , an d sh im mie d u p tr e es.
A nd M arg e y elle d a t a ll o f t h em li k e s o m eh ow th ey w ere a t fa u lt . “W atch o u t!”
s h e b ello w ed . “  is is an e m erg ency ! F unJ ung le S ecu rit y co ming thro u gh !”
L uck ily , Ja m es V an A m bu rg w as e a sy to k eep a n ey e o n. H is b ig siz e n ow
w ork ed a g ain st h im . H e s tu ck o u t a b ove th e cr ow ds, and h is b ald h ea d s h one
b rig h tly in t h e h ot s u n . P lu s, as a bi g m an , h e w asn ’t t h at f a st. W e w ere g aini ng
gro u n d o n h im , th an ks in p art to M arg e’s sta u n ch re fu sa l to g o a ro u nd a ny
o b sta cl es. In ste a d , sh e m ad e a b eeli ne f o r o u r t a rg et, n ot ca ring w hat w as i n th e
w ay.
W e cl ip ped tw o m ore garb ag e ca ns , to p pli ng th em and sca tt e ring th eir
co nte n ts . W e p lo w ed th ro u gh a d eco ra tiv e � ow er be d, ste a m ro lli ng th e tu li p s.
A nd w e ca ro m ed off a p op co rn ca rt, which p ro m ptly ro lle d d ow n a h ill,
u pen ded o ver a r a ili n g, an d tu m ble d int o th e ca mel e x h ibi t. A s if th ere w asn ’t
e n ou gh co mmotio n alr e a d y, ev ery w ild b ir d in th e are a im med ia te ly se ns ed
th ere w as f r e e p op co rn a ro u n d a n d h om ed in on it . C lo u ds o f p ig eo ns m ad e a
b eeli n e fo r th e ca mels , alo n g w it h a fe w str a y se a g u lls and p ea co cks. Any
un fo rtu n ate g uests ca ugh t in th eir p ath w ere s tr a fe d w it h bi rd p oop .
 ro u gh a ll o f th is , Su m mer a n d I cl un g o n to th e g o lf ca rt fo r d ea r li f e .
S ev era l tim es, w e w ere a lm ost p it ch ed o ut o f o ur s ea ts .
I n th e o p pre ssiv e h ea t, m y fr o ze n cloth es w ere d efr o sting q u ick ly , cr ea ting
r ivu le ts o f w ate r t h at t r ick le d d ow n my bo dy. It o ccu rre d t o m e t h at t h ere w as
so m eth in g I still n eed ed to say to M arg e: “  an ks f or s av ing m e.”
“ I w as ju st d oin g m y jo b,” M arg e re p li e d g ru ffl y, th en yelle d a t a Ja p ane se
fa m ily , “ Get o ut o f th e w ay, m oro ns !”
 e fa m ily b olt e d so q u ick ly , th eir L i P ing e a rs fe ll o ff . M arg e d ro ve rig h t
over th e s ou ven ir s, cr ush in g th em int o p ulp .
“It w as still d an gero u s,” I sa id , hang ing o n as w e ju m ped a cu rb int o a
to p ia ry g ard en .

“W hen y o u’r e in s e cu rit y , it ’s y o u r s w orn du ty t o s e rv e a nd p ro te ct .” M arg e
sm ash ed th ro u gh th e p la n ts , r ed u ci ng a few top ia ry w arth ogs t o t w ig s.
S u m mer a n d I sh are d a co nce rn ed lo ok. M arg e se em ed su rp ris ing ly bl asé
a b ou t th e w hole re scu e. Eit h er sh e w as in sh ock , or desp it e w ork ing at
F un Ju n gle , sh e’d n ev er b oth ere d t o le a rn any th ing a bo ut p ola r b ea rs. I � gu re d
it w as p ro b ab ly th e l atte r— bu t I w asn ’t q uit e s ure .
W e h urtle d o n w ard th ro u gh th e g ard en, gu illo tini ng a to p ia ry rh ino , th en
ro are d b ack o u t o n to th e co nco urse , le a v ing a tr a il o f sh re d ded bu sh es in ou r
w ak e.
M arg e s n ap ped h er r a d io o u t o f h er h ols te r a nd s e nt o u t a b ro ad ca st. “ is
is O ffice r O ’M alle y. I a m i n h ot p u rsu it o f a s u sp ect i n th e L i P ing k id na pping ,
curre n tly h ea d in g to w ard th e fr o nt g ate s b y w ay o f H ip po R iv er. R eq u esting
b ack up im med ia te ly .”
“ M arg e?” H oen ek ker a sk ed o ver t h e r a d io , so u nd ing w orrie d . “D id y o u s a y
‘h ot p ursu it ’? ”
“ Y es s ir . I hav e s potte d J am es V an A mbu rg a nd a m run ni ng him dow n. ”
“ at g o lf ca rt is n ot in te n ded fo r h ig h -s p eed ch ase s!” H oene kker w arne d.
“E sp ecia lly in sid e th e p ark !”
“ I w on’t h av e t o ch ase h im m uch lo ng er if I g et m y ba ckup,” M arg e r e p li e d .
“N ow , I n eed a b arrica de e re cte d a cr oss th e fr o nt g ate s w it h a w hole m ess o f
arm ed g uard s to pre v en t th e s usp ect fro m lea v ing the p ro p erty  . . . W hoa!”
A s th e cr ow ds sc a tte re d in fr o n t o f u s, a sm all ch ild h ad b een le ft be hind .
Marg e v eere d w ild ly to a v o id h im , lo sing h er g rip o n her ra d io , w hich � ew
fr o m h er h an d a n d s a ile d in to a le m ur e x h ibi t. “C ru d!” M arg e e x cla im ed , th en
y elle d b ack at th e to ddle r, “ Yo u o we m e a rad io , y ou lou sy r ugra t!”
A hea d of us, Ja m es Van Am bu rg ra ce d past M ulu m bo Point and
d is a p pea re d b eh in d th e w ate rfa lls o f H ip po R iv er.
O ver t h e s o u n d o f a ll t h e a n gry t o u ris ts s cr ea m ing a t M arg e f o r d riv ing li k e
a m an ia c, I h ea rd m usic. Festiv e d an ce m usic. I lo oked t h ro u gh t h e t r e es in th e
dir e ctio n o f th e f ro n t g ate s a nd s aw som eth ing very l arg e m oving be hind them .
“U h, M arg e . . . , ” I said .
“N ot n ow !” M arg e s n ap ped , sw erv ing t h ro u gh a h ord e o f g u ests . “I ne ed t o
co nce ntr a te !”
“ B ut M arg e . . . ”

“S h ut y ou r tra p, T ed dy!”
“ M arg e!  ere ’s a p ara d e a hea d !”
F or th e sp rin g, J.J . M cC ra ck en had deci ded to ins tit u te a para d e at
F un Ju n gle ev ery aft e rn oon . “E very o ne lo ves p ara d es,” h e’d cl aim ed . “D is n ey
W orld m ust h av e s e v en te en a d ay.”  is w as a m assiv e e x ag gera tio n, but w hen
J.J . w an te d s om eth in g d on e, it go t d one .
And s o, th e F un Ju n gle F rie n ds D ance ’n’ S ing Para d e w as b orn.
 e a n nual S an A nto n io B attle o f F lo w ers P ara d e h ad r e ce nt ly t a k en pla ce ,
an d a ft e rw ard , J.J . had s n ap ped u p s e v era l u se d � oats fo r a b arg ain. ey h ad
o rig in ally been co vere d wit h li v e �ow ers, bu t th e Sp eci al Event s and
E nte rta in m en t dep artm en t had sw ap ped th ose ou t fo r pla stic one s, th en
sli g h tly m od i� ed th e th em es to b e m ore re le v ant to a zo o. ( e lo ca l E lk s
C lu b’s “R em em ber th e Ala m o” �oat had beco me, wit h a sli g h t bi t of
m od i� ca tio n , “R em em ber t h e A rm ad illo .” )  en so m e a ttr a ct iv e g ir ls a nd g u ys
w ere h ir e d to w ea r sk im py cl oth es and d an ce o n th e � oats , while all th e
Fun Ju n gle m asco ts w ere o rd ere d to aba ndon th eir u su al p osts and jo in th e
fe stivities .  e r o u te b eg an n ea r t h e f r o nt g ate s, w here it w ou ld d ra w t h e m ost
a tte n tio n , th en lo op ed t h e p ark o n Advent ure R oad . It w asn ’t a v ery im pre ssiv e
p ara d e, bu t th e to u ris ts se em ed to a p pre ci ate it , an d o n occa sio n, FunJ ung le
w ou ld s p ice it u p a b it b y in vitin g a lo ca l h ig h s ch ool m arch ing ba nd to p la y.
(A cco rd in g t o J .J ., th e g re a t t h in g a bo ut h ig h s ch ool b an ds w as t h at y o u d id n’t
h av e to p ay th em ; th ey w ou ld h ap pily p erfo rm in re tu rn fo r fr e e F unJ ung le
t ick ets .)
A m arch in g b an d w as p la y in g th at d ay. I h ea rd th em befo re I sa w th em .
Bein g a t y p ica l b u n ch o f h ig h s ch ool m usici an s, th ey w ere b u tch ering w hate v er
so n g t h ey w ere p erfo rm in g s o t h at it w as co mple te ly u n re co gni za b le . B ut t h ey
h ad dra w n a go od -s iz e cr ow d no neth ele ss. It w as pro ba bly m ostly th eir
f a m ili e s, bu t sin ce a sta n dard sch ool ba nd h ad o ver a h un dre d k id s in it , th at
w as s till a lot o f p are n ts a nd s ib li n gs.
W e zo om ed aro u n d H ip po R iv er to � nd o u r p ath b lo ck ed b y a se a o f
p eo p le .  ey w ere li n ed u p t h re e d eep o n both s id es o f A dvent ure R oad w hile
t h e p ara d e p asse d b etw een th em .
Ahea d o f u s, Ja m es V an A m bu rg w as ru dely sh oving h is w ay th ro u gh th e
cr ow d. H e k n ock ed tw o li t tle k id s o n th eir b u tts , th en du ck ed be tw een th e

march in g b an d a nd th e “ H oora y f or H ip pos!” � oat.
M arg e y elp ed an d sto m ped o n th e b ra k es. W e sk id ded w ild ly , bu t th ere
w asn ’t ro om to sto p . Rath er th an m ow d ow n so m e inno cent p ara d e-g o ers,
M arg e sw erv ed in to th e la n dsca ping . U nfo rtu na te ly , th e p articu la r sp ot sh e
ch ose h ad a sm all h ill in it, w hich was p erfe ct ly s lo p ed t o f orm a ram p.
“B ail o u t!” I y elle d to S u m mer, alt h ou gh sh e h ad a lr e a d y re a li z e d th is w as
th e sm art th in g to d o. M arg e d id n’t . As th e ca rt cr ash ed th ro u gh th e sm all
b arrie r h ed ge, Su m mer a n d I b oth le a p ed o ff . W e la nd ed o n th e g ra ssy h ill a nd
tu m ble d d ow n it, w hile M arg e a nd the ca rt r ock ete d o ff the t op .
“L ook o u t!!!” M arg e h ow le d to th e cr ow d a h ea d .  an kfu lly , her v o ice w as
lo u d e n ou gh to o verw helm e v en th e m arch ing b an d.  e to u ris ts scr am bled
o u t o f h er p ath ju st in tim e.  e ca rt cr ash ed to e a rth a nd sk id ded int o th e
m id dle o f th e p ara d e.
 e b an d’s so n g e n ded a b ru ptly in a b la re o f fr ig h te ne d tr u m pet bl asts a s
th e m usicia ns sca tte re d . M arg e slu ice d th ro u gh th em a nd sla m m ed int o th e
“S alu te t o M arsu pia ls ” � oat h ea d -o n.  e � oat s to p ped s o a br uptly t h at a ll t h e
dan ce rs a n d m asco ts w ere th ro w n o ff th eir fe et. W hile m ost co lla p se d int o a
p ile o n th e � oat it s e lf , th e p oor a ct or p la y ing Ka zo o th e K oala sa ile d th ro u gh
th e a ir a n d la n ded a to p th e ro of o f M arg e’s g o lf ca rt w it h su ch fo rce th at th e
hea d ca me o ff h is co stu m e. D oze ns o f ch ild re n sh rie k ed in horro r as th eir
f a v o rit e ko ala was deca pit a te d rig h t in fr o nt of th em .  e eno rm ou s
dis e m bod ie d h ea d t h en r o lle d t h ro u gh t h e m arch ing b an d li k e a b ow li ng ba ll,
k n ock in g o ver th e tr om bon e s ecti on l ik e t enp ins .
I s cr am ble d to th e to p o f th e h ill, sp it ting o u t g ra ss, to s e e th at Ja m es V an
A m bu rg h ad m ad e it t h ro u gh t h e p ara d e r o u te a n d w as w ell o n his w ay t o t h e
fr o n t g ate s. So m e F un Ju n gle se cu rit y g u ard s w ere ra ci ng int o th e e nt ry p la za
a n d p ro b ab ly co uld h av e sto p ped h im —bu t th ey w ere to o d is tr a ct ed b y th e
ch ao s M arg e h ad ca use d .  ey r a n t o w ard u s, ra th er t h an J a m es, allo w ing h im
t o s li p rig ht p ast th em .
Su m mer a n d I b oth s h ou te d t o t h e g u ard s t h at t h ey ne ed ed t o t u rn aro u nd
beca use a m ajo r crim in al w as g etting a w ay, bu t th ey co uld n’t h ea r u s o ver th e
ca co ph on y o f s ta rtle d g uests a nd s cr ea m ing ch ild re n.
M arg e d id h er b est t o t a k e u p t h e ch ase , th ro w ing t h e g o lf ca rt int o r e v erse
d esp it e th e fa ct th at th ere w as a beh ea d ed ko ala cl ing ing to th e ro of. I

re co gn iz e d th e u n fo rtu n ate so u l as C harli e C onno r, an act or w ho’d h ad h is
s h are o f m is h ap s at F un Ju n gle be fo re . Charli e h eld o n tig h tly to th e ro of,
w hit e -k n uck le d in fe a r, scr ea m in g vario u s cu rse s in fr o nt of th e cr ow d as
M arg e ra ce d b ack ward th ro u gh th e m ad ne ss. Sad ly , M arg e w as e v en worse a t
d rivin g in re v erse th an sh e w as at go ing fo rw ard . Sh e sw erv ed to av o id a
to p ple d sa x o p h on is t, sle w ed o ff A dvent ure R oad , and sm ash ed th ro u gh th e
fe n ce i n to t h e � am in go p on d.  e ca rt s to p ped a br uptly , ax le -d eep i n �am ing o
muck , w hile p oor C harli e w en t � ying .
If it h ad n’t b een tr a u m atic en ou gh to s e e Ka zo o lo se h is h ea d , th e ch ild re n
n ow a ll g o t t o s e e h im s p la t in to s o m e o f t h e m ost f o u l, bir d -p oop -la d en wate r
in th e p ark .  e � am in go s p ro m ptly � ed th ro u gh th e h ole in th e fe nce ,
am pin g u p th e c h ao s a lo n g th e p ara d e ro u te e v en more .  ey ’d a ll h ad th eir
w in gs cl ip ped , so th ey co uld n’t � y aw ay, bu t th at d id n’t sto p th em fr o m
� ap pin g th eir l im bs w ild ly in th e h op es t hat t hey m ig h t s uddenl y t ak e o ff.
Su m mer a n d I ra ce d a cr oss th e pa ra d e ro u te , pu rsu ing Ja m es, bu t h e w as
alr e a d y o n h is w ay o u t th e g ate s. H e p au se d a nd lo oked b ack fo r a m om ent ,
�ash in g u s a cr uel g rin , th en s li p ped o ut i nt o t he p ark ing lot.
M ost o f t h e F un Ju n gle s e cu rit y g u ard s w ho h ad a rriv ed w ere t e nd ing t o t h e
cr ow d, m ak in g s u re t h at n o o n e w as h urt—t han kfu lly , no o ne a p pea re d t o be ,
sa v e fo r a fe w scra pes a n d b ru is e s—a lt h ou gh a fe w w ere tr y ing to ro u nd u p
re n eg ad e � am in go s. I sp otte d H oene kker as h e arriv ed on th e sce ne . H e
pla n te d h im se lf in fr o n t o f M arg e’s g o lf ca rt b efo re s h e co uld d riv e o u t o f th e
� am in go p on d a nd d o a ny m ore d am ag e.
I r a n o ver t o H oen ek ker, in te n din g t o a le rt h im a bo ut J a m es V an Am bu rg ’s
e sca pe. “ Ted dy!” h e g ro w le d . “ I s hou ld h av e k now n y ou’d be inv olv ed in t his !”
“ I’m sorr y ,” I said , “ bu t it ’s a n e m erg ency . . . . ”
“N o e m erg en cy is w orth ca usin g th is !” H oen ek ker w av ed to th e cr ow d o f
an gry to u ris ts , upen ded p erfo rm ers, an d e sca ped � am ing os. H e w as li v id , his
f a ce a s r e d a s a s c a rle t m aca w. “D o y o u r e a li z e h ow m uch t r o u bl e y o u’v e ca use d
h ere ?”
I g la n ce d b ack t o w ard t h e f r o n t g ate s, bu t J a m es V an Am bu rg h ad v ani sh ed
fr o m sig h t.
I s ta rte d to m ak e o n e la st p le a to g o a ft e r th e m an who’d n ea rly k ille d m e,
b u t b efo re I co uld , M arg e la id o n h er h orn. “M ove it , C hie f!” sh e y elle d . “I

hav e a crim in al to ca tch !” S h e sto m ped o n th e acce le ra to r, bu t ins te a d o f
m ovin g f orw ard , h er w heels j u st s pu n id ly i n t he p ond , show ering poor C harli e
C on nor w it h m ore � am in go m uck .
H oen ek ker d id n’t b u dge. In ste a d , he sta re d b u lle ts a t M arg e a nd re p li e d ,
“Y o u r d ay s o f p ursu in g crim in als h ere a re t hro u gh , O ’M alle y. Y ou’r e � re d .”

BIG T R O UBLE
F unJu ngle S ecu rity h aule d M arg e, Sum mer, an d m e to J.J .
M cC ra ck en ’s o ffi ce .  e th re e o f u s e nd ed u p se a te d be fo re J.J .’s d esk , w hile
H oen ek ker s to od t o t h e s id e. M arg e a nd I h ad n’t e v en been allo w ed t o ch ang e
cloth es. W e w ere s till d am p a n d h ad t o s it o n FunJ ung le be ach t o w els f r o m t h e
E m poriu m so w e w ou ld n’t l ea v e w et s pots o n J .J.’s f ancy couch .
An en orm ou s te le vis io n w as tu n ed to C N N . It w as co verin g th e p an da
sto ry , a B R EA K IN G N EW S b an ner a cr oss t h e s cr een .  e F B I h ad a n nou n ce d t h at
th ey ’d m ad e a n a rre st in t h e ca se .  ere w as f o ota g e o f M olly O ’M alle y a nd t h e
oth er a g en ts le a d in g a m an I re c o gni ze d a s C arlo s E dw ard G om ez fr o m h is
h om e in han dcu ffs.
 e s o u n d o n t h e T V w as m ute d , bu t e v en if it h ad b een on, we p ro ba bly
co uld n’t h av e h ea rd it o ver J .J .’s v o ice . If w e’d t h ou gh t H oen ek ker w as a n gry , it
w as n oth in g co mpare d to how enr ag ed J .J. w as.
“ L ook a t th at m ess!” h e ro are d , point ing d ow n to F unJ ung le ’s e nt ry p la za
th ro u gh h is o ffi ce w in dow s. “A tr a il o f d estr u ct io n fr o m th e P ola r P av ili o n all
t h e w ay t o t h e fr o n t g ate s! R eck le ss d riv ing ins id e a fa m ily t h em e p ark ! P ara d e
� oats ru in ed ! E sca ped an im als ! K azo o th e K oala deca pit a te d in fr o nt of
ch ild re n ! G od o nly k now s h ow m an y l aw su it s w e’l l e nd up w it h !”
“ W e w ere in pursu it o f a k now n cr im ina l . . . , ” M arg e be gan w ea k ly .
“  at’s n o e x cu se fo r d estr o yin g m y p ark !” J.J . ro are d . “ ere a re w ay s to
d ea l w it h a crim in al t h at d o n ot inv olv e ca using ch ao s a nd m ay h em o n a m ass
s ca le ! I f y ou n eed ed h elp , w hy d id n’t y ou a le rt H oene kker?”

“I d id a le rt H oen ek ker,” M arg e re p li e d su lle nl y. “B ut h e tu rne d o u t to be
m ore in te re ste d in sto p pin g m e th an th e crim in al.”
J .J . sh if t e d h is g aze to w ard H oen ek ker, w ho sto od a t m ili t a ry a tt e nt io n. “I
m ob ili z e d m y m en im med ia te ly ,” H oene kker r e p orte d . “H ow ev er, by t h e t im e
we a rriv ed o n th e sce ne, th e tr o u bl es a lo ng th e p ara d e ro u te d is tr a ct ed th em .
 ey p rio rit iz e d en su rin g th e sa fe ty o f th e vis it o rs over ap pre h end ing V an
A m bu rg , w hich unfo rtu n ate ly a llo w ed V an A mbu rg t o e sca pe.”
“ H ow ’d h e e v en g et in to t h e p ark a t a ll? ” J .J . dem an ded . “W ere n ’t y o u r m en
w arn ed to keep a n e ye o ut f or h im at t he g ate s?”
“  ey w ere ,” H oen ek ker a dm it te d s heep is h ly . “ But—”
“  e se cu rit y fo rce h ere is co mple te ly inco mpete nt ,” M arg e � ni sh ed . “I
w ou ld ’v e h ad h im if you h ad n’t int erfe re d .”
“ F or all w e kn ow , yo u m ig h t h av e d estr o yed h alf th is p ark if I h ad n’t
i n te rfe re d !” H oen ek ker r a g ed . H e t u rne d t o J .J . “I ca n’t h av e a lo ose ca nno n on
m y fo rc e li k e th is an y lo n ger. I kn ow yo u’v e alw ay s re sp ect ed her
d ete rm in atio n , bu t b etw een h er c o lo ssa l f a ilu re s o n th e p and a ca se a nd t h is , w e
hav e to let h er g o.”
J .J . d id n’t a rg u e. H e s im ply n od ded a nd s aid , “ I u nd ersta n d.”
M arg e g av e a s tr a n gle d g asp a n d � xed J .J . w it h a lo ok o f b etr a y al. “Y o u ca n’t
� re m e!” s he y elle d . “ Not a ft e r a ll I ’v e d one for t his p ark !”
“ It’s d on e,” J .J. to ld h er. “ Go cl ea n o ut y ou r l ock er.”
F or th e p ast y ea r, I h ad b een h op ing to h ea r th ose w ord s. I h ad alw ay s
im ag in ed th e d ay M arg e g o t � re d w ou ld be o ne o f th e h ap pie st o f m y li f e . It
s h ou ld hav e been th rilli n g to se e m y big gest ant ag o ni st �na lly get her
co meu ppan ce . But n ow th at th e m om ent w as h ere , I w as su rp ris e d to � nd I
w asn ’t th at h ap py a t a ll.
M arg e w as d ev asta te d . Sh e se em ed li k e a sh ell o f h erse lf a s sh e slo w ly ro se
fr o m th e co uch . It o ccu rre d to m e th at M arg e d id n’t h av e m uch be sid es th is
jo b, an d n ow  .  . . it w as g o n e. P lu s, fo r a ll h er f a u lt s — an d t h ere w ere a bo ut t e n
th ou sa n d o f th em — sh e h ad ris ked h er l if e to sav e m e f ro m th e p ola r be ars.
M ea n w hile , I als o n eed ed M arg e aro u nd a b it lo ng er. W it h Ja m es V an
A m bu rg ’s a tte m pt o n m y l if e a nd t h e e ns uing ch ao s, t here h ad n’t be en a chance
fo r m e to te ll a n yo n e m y n ew th ou gh ts o n th e L i P ing ca se . I still h ad so m e
qu estio n s th at o nly M arg e co uld a nsw er.

“W ait ,” I said .
M arg e p au se d o n h er w ay o u t. Every o ne tu rne d to w ard m e, su rp ris e d I’d
s p oken u p.
“T ed dy,” J .J. s aid o m in ou sly , “ don’t s ta rt w it h m e.”
“ I’m not tr yin g to  . . . , ” I said .
“W hy is it ,” J .J . w en t o n , “th at w hene ver a cr is is o ccu rs a t th is p ark , yo u’r e
a lw ay s t h ere ?  e s h ark t a n k im plod es; m y d au gh te r’s d ang li ng in th e a ir a bo ve
th e cr oco dile p it ; a d ea d h ip po fa lls o u t o f th e sk y an d su lli e s a h und re d
d is tin gu is h ed g uests . A nd n o m att e r w hat, y ou’r e i nv olv ed .”
“ D ad dy,” S u m mer s a id s te rn ly . “ at’s n ot f a ir . T ed dy w asn ’t r e sp ons ibl e f o r
an y o f th at!”
“ M ay b e n ot e ntir e ly ,” J .J. co nce ded , “ bu t h e’s n ot co mple te ly w it h ou t bl am e
eit h er. S om e p eo p le a re s im ply m ag n ets f o r t r o u ble . A nd T ed dy, in all m y li f e , I
h av e n ev er m et a n yo n e w ho a ttr a ct s t r o u bl e m ore t h an y o u . I d on’t k no w if it ’s
t h at y o u’r e re ck le ss o r u n lu ck y, or th at y o u k eep g etting inv olv ed in th ing s
yo u’r e n ot s uppose d to . . . . ”
“L ast tim e h e g o t in vo lv ed in a ca se , it w as b eca use yo u fo rce d h im to ,”
S u m mer s aid p etu la n tly .
“ I’m n ot sa y in g I h av en ’t h ad a h and in all th is at tim es,” J.J . re p li e d .
“A lt h ou gh to d ay ’s ca ta str o p h e h ad no th ing to d o w it h m e. A nd y et  .  . .” H e
tu rn ed to me. “  ere y ou w ere , s mack in t he m id dle o f i t.”
“ I w as o nly tr yin g to help � nd L i P ing ,” I said .
“W ell, th is tim e, no o n e ask ed yo u to ,” J.J . sna pped . “In fa ct , th e F B I
sp eci� cally o rd ere d y o u to k eep a w ay fr o m th is ca se . A nd y et, yo u w ou ld n’t ,
d esp it e am ple p ro of th at th ey h av e th ing s u nd er co ntro l. In fa ct , th ey h av e
alr e a d y m ad e a n a rre st in co nnecti on w it h t he cr im e. . . . ”
“B ut th ey ’r e w ro n g,” I said .
“O h co me n ow !” J.J . crie d. “I k n ow y o u h av e a g re a t tr a ck re co rd so lv ing
crim es, k id . B ut th e f ed s h ad a to n o f e vid ence agains t t he N FF .”
“ It w as p la n te d ,” I t o ld h im . I d id m y be st t o s o u nd co n� dent , alt h ou gh in
t r u th , I did n’t h av e p ro of th at I w as r ig h t a bou t m y h unch . Not y et, a t l ea st.
O n th e te le vis io n , M olly O ’M alle y ap pea re d , m ak ing a sta te m ent to th e
pre ss. M arg e te n se d a n grily a t th e s ig h t o f h er s is te r. J.J . �ip p ed th e s o u n d o n
so w e co uld a ll h ea r h er.

We p ick ed u p M olly m id se n te n ce. “.  . . need to sh are th e cr ed it w it h m y
en tir e te a m , w ho w ork ed tir e le ssly to ro ot o u t th ese cr im ina ls . I’m a w are th at
C arlo s G om ez a n d t h e N FF h av e is su ed s ta te m en ts p ro fe ssin g t h eir inno cence ,
bu t I ca n a ssu re y o u th ose a re li e s. I w ill s ta k e m y r e p u ta tio n on pro ving th ey
a re g uilt y o f th is h ein ou s crim e.”
J .J . m ute d t h e T V a g ain a n d t u rn ed b ack t o m e. “S u re lo oks t o m e li k e t h e
F B I k now s w hat th ey ’r e d oin g.”
“ B ut th ey h av en ’t f ou n d th e p an da y et, h av e t hey ?” I a sk ed .
J.J .’s sw ag ger fa d ed . I’d ca ugh t h im b y su rp ris e . W hen he sp oke a g ain, he
did n’t s o u n d q u it e s o s u re o f h im se lf . “N ot a s fa r a s I k n ow . B ut y o u h one stly
e xp ect me t o b eli e v e t h at a n e n tir e t e a m o f F B I a g en ts is b ark in g u p t h e w ro n g
tr e e? Y o u w ere ju st p u rsu in g J a m es V an Am bu rg y o u rse lv es. Is n ’t h e o ne o f t h e
fo u n ders o f th e N FF? ”
“H e w as ,” I ack now le d ged . “B ut I don’t th ink he’s w ork ing fo r th em
a n ym ore . H e’s w ork in g f or th e b ad g uys i ns te a d .”
“ W ho are  . . . ?” J.J. d em an ded .
I g rim ace d. “ I d on’t k now y et.”
J .J . gav e a sh ort b ark o f d eris iv e la u gh te r. “H a!  at’s all yo u’v e go t? A
h un ch ?”
S u m mer ru sh ed to m y d efe n se . “D ad dy, yo u k n ow h ow sm art T ed dy is .
Y o u’v e s a id it y o u rse lf a d oze n t im es. So if h e t h ink s s o m eth ing s tink s a bo ut a ll
t h is , th en s o m eth in g s tin ks. Ja m es V an Am bu rg ju st t r ie d t o k ill h im , fo r P ete ’s
s a k e! B eca use h e re a li z e d T ed dy h ad ev id ence th at p ro ved th e N FF w asn ’t
i n vo lv ed .”
“ A nd h ow w ou ld h e k now th at? ” J .J. a sk ed .
“B eca use T ed dy to ld m e so ,” S u m mer d ecl are d . “H e sa id it o n ou r p h one
ca ll.”
“ I h ad ju st le ft Pan da Pala ce ,” I ex p la ine d. “I gu ess V an A m bu rg w as
k eep in g a n e y e o n m e a g ain . H e m ust h av e o verh ea rd m e, th en fo llo w ed m e t o
P ola r P avil io n an d th ro w n m e in wit h th e be ars to m ak e su re I d id n’t te ll
a n yo n e w hat I k new .”
“ J.J .,” H oen ek ker in te rr u pte d , “a t th is p oint , it is still co nject ure th at V an
A m bu rg t h re w T ed dy in to t h e p ola r be ar p it a t a ll. M y m en are e x am ini ng t h e

se cu rit y fo ota g e fr o m th e P ola r P av ili o n to co n� rm if th at’s w hat act ually
o ccu rre d .”
“ T o co n�rm it ? ” I re p ea te d , an noyed . “W hy? Y o u th ink I m ig h t h av e ju st
ju m ped in wit h th e p ola r b ea rs f or f un? ”
“I th in k it ’s p ossib le th at y o u h av e m is co nstr u ed th e s it u atio n, ” H oene kk er
re p li e d . “ ere w ere d oze n s o f p eo p le in th at e x h ibi t a n d no o ne e ls e s a w h im
t h ro w y ou in . . . . ”
“I d id ,” M arg e sa id . “I w as co ming th ro u gh th e d oors w hen it h ap pen ed .
 at’s h ow I k new T ed dy w as e ven i n t he w ate r.”
“ A s we hav e esta b li s h ed , yo u r sk ills at ded u ct io n are qu estio na ble,”
H oen ek ker s aid .
“Y o u kn ow w hat’s not qu estio na ble ?” M arg e sn ap ped . “ at yo u’r e a
pin hea d .”
S h e a n d H oen ek k er sta rte d sh ou ting a t e a ch o th er, all th eir ra g e bu bbl ing
o u t. J .J. h ad to rush b etw een th em . “ Both o f y ou , ca n it!” h e r oare d .
M arg e a nd H oen ek ker f ell s ile n t bu t k ep t g lo w ering at e ach oth er.
J .J . lo oked to m e. “A ll rig h t, Ted dy. I’l l bi te . W hat e v id ence d id y o u � nd
th at w as w orth h im killi n g y ou o ver?”
“ P an das m ak e � ft y p ou n ds o f p oop a d ay,” I rep orte d .
“F if t y p ou n ds?” J .J . ask ed . “ at ca n’t b e h ea lt h y. N o w ond er t h ey ’r e g o ing
e xtin ct.”
“ ey d on’t d ig est b am boo v ery w ell,” I e xp la ine d.
“S o ?” H oen ek ker a sk ed .
“L i P in g w as o n t h e t r u ck f o r a lo n g t im e be fo re s h e g o t k id na pped ,” I w ent
o n . “ ey m ad e a p it sto p h alf w ay th ro u gh th e tr ip in Las C ru ce s and th e
pan da w as still o n b oard .  at h ad to h av e b een at le a st eig h t h ou rs, rig h t,
M arg e?”
“  at’s co rre ct, ” s he co n�rm ed .
“B ut w hen th e tr uck got h ere ,” I said , “ th ere w asn ’t a ny p oop in i t.”
E very o n e f ell s ile n t a s th at s an k in.
H oen ek ker’s j aw sw un g o pen . “ So n o f a g un, y ou’r e r ig h t.”
“ H e is ?” J .J. a sk ed .
“O f co urse h e is !” S um mer d ecl are d . “ Ted dy’s n ev er w ro ng !”
“  ere w as a b un ch of b am boo,” H oene kker s aid , “ bu t no poop .”

“It’s n ot li k e w e co uld h av e m is se d it ,” I ad ded . “A cco rd ing to C hlo é
D olk art, it ’s b ig , l ik e th e s iz e o f a vo ca dos. A nd pand as d o i t f orty t im es a d ay.”
“ H old o n ,” M arg e sa id , tr y in g to m ak e se ns e o f w hat w as g o ing o n. “A re
y o u sa y in g th at w hoev er sto le L i P ing a ls o sw ip ed a w hole bu nch o f p and a
poo?”
S u m mer s m ack ed h er f ore h ea d , s tu nne d b y h ow d ens e M arg e w as.
“ N o,” I s a id . “I’m s a y in g t h e p an da p oo w as n ev er t h ere . B eca use t h e p an da
w as n ev er th ere . S om eo n e s w it ch ed t he t ra ile rs o n t he t ru ck s.”
“ W hat? ” M arg e a sk ed , s till tr yin g t o u nd ersta n d.
“ ey d id n’t h it th e tr u ck w hile it w as in motio n, ” I sa id . “Ins te a d , th ey
to ok a tr a ile r th at lo oked exa ctl y li k e o u rs, m ad e it u p to lo ok li k e a crim e
sce ne, wit h th e b lo w n lo ck s a n d th e ch lo ro fo rm an d ev ery th ing , and th en
sw ap ped it w it h o u rs a t s o m e p oint o n th e tr ip .  ey g o t th e p an da ca ge a nd
a ll t h e f u rn it u re f o r D oc rig h t, bu t t h ey f o rg o t a bo ut t h e p oop . O r m ay be t h ey
ju st d id n’t k now h ow m uch pan das g o t o t he ba th ro om .”
“ I s u re d id n’t ,” J .J . m utte re d . “F if t y p ou nd s. W ow .  at’s m ore t h an a g o od
d og w eig h s.”
“ N ow , h old o n ,” H oen ek ker a rg u ed . “Y o u ca n’t s w ap t r a ile rs w hile t h e t r u ck
is m ovin g.”
“ W ell, no,” I a g re ed . “H ow ev er, if y o u h ad a te a m o f p eo p le o n th e s id e o f
th e r o ad , yo u co uld d o it p re tty q u ick ly , I th ink . M uch fa ste r th an yo u co uld
b re a k in to th e tra ile r, s te a l L i P in g, a nd k id na p D oc. ”
“B ut th en th e d riv ers w ou ld h av e t o be in o n it,” H oene kker p oint ed o ut.
“ O nly on e w ou ld ,” I co rre cte d. “Ju an V ela sq u ez w as d riv ing a t t h e t im e. For
th is to w ork , he w ou ld h av e h ad to p ark o n th e sid e o f th e ro ad to u nco uple
t h e � rst tr a ile r, th en m ove th e ca b to h it ch u p th e se co nd tr a ile r. If h e d id it
q u ick ly e nou gh , G re g J eff erso n co uld h av e s le p t t hro u gh t he w hole t hing .”
“ A nd w hat a b ou t M arg e?” H oen ek ker a sk ed . “S h e w as r ig h t t h ere in th e ca b
next to Juan . H ow co uld s he h av e m is se d a ll t his ?”
“ B eca use s he w as a sle ep to o,” I said .
E very o n e l ooked to M arg e.
“ I w asn ’t !” s he s aid d efe n siv ely . “ I w as a w ak e t he w hole t im e!”
“ A re y ou s ure ?” I a sk ed .

“O f co urse I’m su re !” M arg e e x cl aim ed , th ou gh sh e d id n’t so u nd q u it e so
co n�den t th is tim e.
“ If y o u fe ll a sle ep o n th e jo b, it ’s b est to b e h one st a bo ut it ,” J .J . inf orm ed
h er. “ Li P in g’s l if e is at s ta k e.”
M arg e s h ra n k t o w ard t h e w all. “I .  . . I m ig h t h av e n od ded o ff f o r a t iny bi t.
I m ea n , I d id n’t t h in k I d id , bu t it w as s u ch a lo ng d riv e. A nd I d id g et a li t tle
d ro w sy a ro u n d F ort S to ck to n , ev en th ou gh I g o t a b ig o ld t u b of co ffee in Las
C ru ce s.”
“ D id yo u b uy th e co ffee?” I a sk ed .
M arg e th ou gh t a b ou t it , th en fr o w ned . “N o. Ju an did . H e cl aim ed it w as
re g u la r, b ut it s ure d id n’t w ork f or m e.”
“ Y o u w ou ld n’t h av e n eed ed to b e a sle ep v ery lo ng fo r th is to w ork ,” I to ld
h er. “M ay b e y o u d id n’t e v en r e a li z e y o u’d d one it . It h ap pens t o m e s o m etim es,
w hen I ’m rea lly tir ed .”
“ M e to o!” S u m mer ch im ed in . “L ik e w hen yo u a n d I w ere w atch ing th at
b orin g m ovie a t m y h ou se t h e o th er n ig h t, T ed dy. I w ou ld n’t h av e e v en kno wn
I w as f alli n g a sle ep e xce pt th at th e m ovie s eem ed t o k eep ju m ping ahea d .”
“ W ait o n e b la ste d se co nd,” J .J . sa id . “ is still se em s h ig h ly sp ecu la tiv e to
m e. W hat’s th e p oin t o f s te a li n g th e w hole tr a ile r r a th er th an ju st s te a li ng th e
pan da?”
“ F or o n e th in g, it ’s fa ste r,” I e xp la ine d. “A nd it ’s p ro ba bly e a sie r. Ins te a d o f
h avin g to w re stle th e p an da an d D oc ou t o f th e tr a ile r o n th e sid e o f th e
hig h w ay a n d p u t th em in a d iff ere nt v eh icl e, th e th ie v es co uld ju st a tta ch th e
en tir e tr a ile r to a d iff ere n t tr u ck , driv e it o ff w here v er th ey w an te d , and d ea l
w it h D oc a nd L i P in g w hen th ey g ot t here .”
“ A nd y o u d on’t th in k D oc wou ld h av e re a li z e d so m eth ing w as g o ing o n? ”
Hoen ek ker a sk ed .
“N ot if h e sle p t th ro u gh it ,” S u m mer p oint ed o u t. “H e sa id h e w as a sle ep
rig h t up to th e poin t w here th ey ch lo ro fo rm ed him . Or m ay be th ey
ch lo ro fo rm ed h im w hile th ey w ere sw it ch ing th e tr a ile rs. Eit h er w ay w ou ld
h av e w ork ed .”
J .J . glo w ere d . “I su ppose . But it still w ou ld n’t be so e a sy to p u ll th is o ff .
Yo u’d n eed a n e xa ct r ep li ca of th e p and a t ra ile r w e d esig ne d.”

“I d on’t t h in k it w as a n e xa ct re p li ca ,” I s a id . “ at’s w here t h ey m esse d u p.
I m ea n , th ey co uld fa k e th e o u ts id e a nd th e ca ge a nd th e fu rni tu re , bu t th ey
co uld n’t fa k e w hat L i P in g a n d D oc wou ld d o ins id e.  ey d id n’t th ink a bo ut
th e pan da poop . And th ey m ad e it lo ok li k e D oc watch ed a na tu re
d ocu men ta ry o n h is D VD p la y er. O ne a b ou t li o n s. Yo u co uld a lw ay s ca ll h im
a n d a sk if he a ctu ally w atch ed it. I’l l b et h e d id n’t .”
J .J . co nsid ere d t h at, th en g ra b bed h is p h one a n d s a id , “L ynd a. G et D oc fo r
m e, rig h t n ow . H e’s p ro b ab ly g o n na s a y no , bu t t e ll h im it co nce rns t h e f a te o f
L i P in g.”
W hile w e w ait e d fo r D oc, J.J . �ip ped t h e p h one t o s p ea k er s o w e co uld a ll
h ea r.
I s h if t e d n erv o u sly o n t h e co uch . A s f a r a s I k ne w, D oc hate d t e le v is io n and
n ev er w atch ed it— bu t I w asn ’t co mple te ly s ure .
S u m mer p u t h er h an d o n m y k n ee. “R ela x ,” s h e w his p ere d . “I k n ow y o u’r e
r ig h t.”
“ I h av e D oc f or y ou ,” L yn da a nnou n ce d o ver t he p hone .
 en D oc ca me o n , so u n din g a nno yed . “I’m a bo ut t o g o int o s u rg ery , J.J . I
don’t h av e m uch tim e. . . . ”
“ is w ill o n ly ta k e a fe w se co nds. W hen yo u w ere in th e tr a ile r w it h L i
Pin g, did y o u w atch a n y o f th ose na tu re d ocu ment arie s w e p ro vid ed fo r y o u ?
 e o ne a bou t l io n s?”
“ W hy w ou ld I d o th at? ” D oc sno rte d . “I se e e no ugh li o ns a t w ork . A nd I
k n ow m ore a bou t th em th an a ny d ocu ment ary cr ew .”
“ S o y ou d id n’t w atch any o f th e m ovie s?” H oene kker p re sse d .
“I d id n’t e v en t u rn o n t h e T V ,” D oc re p li e d . “I r e a d a b ook t h e w hole t im e,
u p u ntil I fell a sle ep .”
“  at’s a ll w e n eed ed to know ,” J .J . s aid . “  an ks f or t he i nf o.” H e h ung up.
“ ere w as n o b ook l eft b eh in d in t he t ra ile r,” H oene kker r ep orte d .
“I’l l b e d arn ed , Ted dy,” J.J . sa id , so u nd ing k ind o f im pre sse d . “L ooks li k e
yo u’r e rig ht o nce again .  ey cl on ed t he t ra ile r.”
“ W hich is w hy I d on’t t h in k t h e N FF co uld h av e d on e it ,” I s a id . “A t r a ile r
li k e th at m ust b e a w fu lly e xp en siv e, r ig h t? ”
“  ey ’r e n ot ch ea p ,” J .J. co ncu rre d .

“F ro m w hat I u n dersta n d,” I w ent o n, “th e N FF d oesn ’t h av e m uch m on ey.
B ut w hoev er p u lle d o ff th is h eis t m ust b e lo ad ed .  ey b ou gh t a tr a ile r—a nd
possib ly p aid o ff J uan a nd J am es V an A mbu rg a s w ell.”
“  en w ho w as it? ” S um mer a sk ed . “ Anim al t ra ffi ck ers?”
“ I’m n ot su re ,” I a d m it te d . “B ut th e tr a ile r it s e lf is th e bi g cl ue to � gu ring
t h at o u t. W hoev er m ad e it h ad t o k n ow e x act ly w hat t h e re a l t r a ile r w as g o in g
to l ook l ik e. S o w ho b uilt th e r ea l t ra ile r?”
“ I d on’t k now ,” J .J. s aid .
“Y o u d on’t ? ” S um mer g asp ed .
“A m illi o n d ecis io n s g et m ad e a t m y co mpani es e v ery d ay,” J.J . inf orm ed
h er. “I ca n’t b e in o n e v ery s in gle o ne o f th em .” H e g ra b be d th e p h one a g ain.
“ L yn da, ca ll C arte r H an au er in T ra n sp orta tio n. Find o u t fr o m h im w ho bu ilt
t h at p an da tra ile r f or u s.”
“ R ig h t a w ay, J .J.” L yn da s aid .
J.J . hun g up, th en lo oked to th e T V ag ain . M olly O ’M alle y w as still
co n�den tly ta lk in g to th e p re ss, c om ple te ly s ure s he w as r ig h t a bou t t he N atu re
F re ed om F orce ’s g u ilt . J.J . tu rn ed ba ck to m e. “ e F B I se n ds a w hole cra ck
divis io n o u t h ere t o h an dle t h is , an d t h ey d id n’t s e e w hat y o u d id . N ot a s ing le
o n e o f th em th ou gh t to go ta lk to the p and a k eep ers.”
“ A ctu ally ,” I said , “ th at w as M arg e’s i d ea .”
S u m mer g ap ed a t m e in su rp ris e . So d id M arg e fo r a m om ent .  en sh e
ca ugh t o n to my l ie a nd a cte d lik e s he’d k now n t his a ll a lo ng .
I w as a s s h ock ed a s e it h er o n e o f t h em t h at I ’d s a id it .  e id ea h ad s im ply
p op ped in to m y h ea d , an d b efo re I e v en kne w w hat I w as d oing , I’d sp oken
u p.
J.J . d id n’t b uy it f or a seco nd. “ Rea lly ?” h e a sk ed s kep tica lly .
“ R ea lly ,” I said , tr yin g m y b est to s e ll i t.
“ A nd w hy d id n’t y o u g o t o t h e k eep ers y o u rse lf , M arg e?” H oene kker a sk ed ,
eq u ally a s s usp icio us a s J .J.
“I d id n’t th in k y o u’d a p pro ve,” M arg e re p li e d . “Y o u h ad m ad e it v ery cl ea r
th at I w as n ot to inte rfe re w it h th e p and a ca se .”
“ B ut M arg e ju st h ad t h is s e n se t h at t h e F B I w as m ak in g a m is ta k e w it h t h e
N FF ,” I sa id . “S o sh e a sk ed m e to ta lk to C hlo é, an d th en we a ll a g re ed to

meet u p at th e P ola r P avil io n to d is cu ss w hat I’d le a rne d. But Ja m es V an
A m bu rg g ot th e ju m p o n m e.  an kfu lly , M arg e w as t here t o s av e m y l if e .”
S u m mer jo in ed in n ow , co min g t o M arg e’s a id a s w ell. “M ay be M arg e g o t a
li t tle cra zy g o in g a ft e r Ja m es V an Am bu rg , bu t th e g u y h ad ju st tr ie d to k ill
T ed dy. M arg e d id n’t w an t to let h im get a w ay.”
“ A nd h e w ou ld n’t h av e, if I’d h ad a li t tle m ore h elp fr o m se cu rit y ,” M arg e
sa id p oin te d ly , g la rin g a t H oen ek ker.
H oen ek ker s hra n k u nder h er g aze . “ I p ro m is e y ou , w e’l l � nd him .”
J .J . lo oked fr o m M arg e to m e to S u m mer, th en back to M arg e a g ain. It
d id n’t se em li k e h e re a lly b eli e v ed u s, bu t h e se em ed int rig u ed th at I—a nd
more im porta n tly , Su m mer— had g o ne to ba t fo r M arg e. “C hie f, m ay be w e
w ere a lit tle h asty in our d is m is sa l o f O ffice r O ’M alle y.”
“ P erh ap s,” H oen ek ker sa id . H e d id n’t re a lly se em to ag re e w it h J.J . H e
sim ply d id n’t w an t to co ntr a d ict h is b oss.
B efo re h e co uld s a y a n yth in g e ls e , m y p are nt s bu rst i nt o t h e o ffi ce .  ey r a n
rig h t to me a nd h ugged m e tig htly . “ Are y ou a ll r ig h t? ” D ad a sk ed .
“I’m �ne,” I to ld h im .
“H ow does th is keep hap pen in g to yo u ?” M om ask ed . Sh e co ntinu ed
h old in g o n to m e, desp it e th e fa ct th at I w as d am p a n d so ak ing th ro u gh h er
sh ir t.
“ I d on’t k n ow ,” I s a id . “I w as b ein g ca re fu l t h is t im e! A ll I d id w as t a lk t o a
k eep er!”
“ W e’r e n ot u pse t w it h y o u ,” D ad a ssu re d m e. “W e w ere ju st s o s ca re d w hen
w e g ot th e n ew s.”
M om looked a t M arg e. “ We h ea r w e h av e y ou t o t han k f or s av ing Ted dy.”
M arg e w av ed t h is o ff . “It w as n o b ig d ea l.  ey w ere o nl y be ars. It’s no t a s i f
t h ey ’r e d an gero u s, l ik e l io n s.”
“ U h .  . . M arg e,” D ad sa id . “P ola r be ars a re e a sily a s d an gero u s a s li o ns .
Pro b ab ly e ven m ore d an gero u s.  ey ’v e b een k now n to hunt hum an s.”
M arg e p ale d . “ Yo u m ea n I co uld h av e be en k ille d in t here ?”
“ N ot ju st k ille d ,” S u m mer sa id g le efu lly . “Y o u co uld h av e be en mau le d ,
evis cera te d , a nd th en e ate n .”
M arg e w ob ble d o n h er fe et a s th e re a li z a tio n of w hat sh e’d d one sa nk in.
A nd th en , sh e p asse d o u t. Sh e p it ch ed fo rw ard o nt o J.J . M cC ra ck en ’s co ffee

ta b le , w hich pro m ptly co lla p se d u nd erne ath h er.
H oen ek ker r ush ed to her s id e to see i f s he w as a ll r ig h t.
L yn da b u zze d t h ro u gh o n J .J .’s p h one . “J.J ., I s p oke t o C arte r H an au er. H e
sa y s th e p an da tra ile r w as cu sto m bu ilt b y S ponC o T ru ck s.”
“ A nd w ho o wns S pon C o T ru ck s?” J .J. i nq uir e d .
“It’s a subsid ia ry o f th e N au tilu s C orp ora tio n, ” L ynd a r ep li e d .
J.J . stiff en ed a t th e n am e. So d id I. W e bo th k n ew w ho ra n th e N au tilu s
C orp ora tio n .
“W alt e r O gilvy ,” J .J. g ro w le d .
“ e m an w ho b uste d th e s hark ta nk wit h T ed dy i n i t? ” M om ask ed .
“O ne a n d th e sa m e.” J .J . an grily p ou nd ed h is d esk w it h a � st. “H e bu ilt a
fa k e tra ile r, s to le m y p an da, a nd f ra m ed t he N FF . A nd th e F B I b ou gh t it h ook,
li n e, an d s in ker li k e a b u n ch o f bl aste d fo ols . W e be tte r g et a h old o f t h em fa st
s o th ey ca n tra ck dow n V an A mbu rg a nd g et h im to t urn e vid ence on O gilv y.”
H oen ek ker’s p h on e b u zze d u rg ent ly . H e re a d th e te x t a nd s m ile d .  en he
sa id , “J.J ., I’m n ot s u re b rin gin g in th e fe d s g ets u s a n yth ing . For a ll w e k no w,
th ey w on’t ev en li s te n to us.” H e no dded to w ard th e T V , where M olly
O ’M alle y w as still co ndu ctin g her pre ss co nfere nce . “ ey se em aw fu lly
co nvin ced th at th ey ’v e g ot th e rig ht g uys.”
“ L ook, C hie f,” J .J . sa id , “I k n ow y o u’v e g o t y o u r ta il in a tw is t be cause o f
h ow t h e f e d s t r e a te d y o u , bu t I h av e t o g et t h at p and a b ack a n d, fr a nk ly , I ne ed
th e A -te a m fo r th is . I k n ow y o u’r e a g o od m an, bu t a s fo r o u r se cu rit y h ere ,
w ell . . . th ey ’r e a lit tle o ut o f th eir l ea g u e o n t his ca se .”
“ M ay b e not,” H oen ek ker re p li e d , hang ing up th e ph one . “It ju st so
h ap pen s, w e’v e a rre ste d J am es V an A mbu rg .”

TH E C O NFE SSIO N
FunJu ngle had a sm all ja il in th e base m en t le v el of th e
ad m in is tr a tio n b u ild in g.  ere w ere o nl y tw o ce lls , and th ey w ere n ’t d esig ne d
to h old p eo p le lo n g-te rm , li k e in a re a l p ris o n. ey w ere m ere ly to k eep
a n yo n e F un Ju n gle S ecu rit y a rre ste d —f or s h op li f t ing , sa y —u ntil s o m eo ne f r o m
an oth er l aw enfo rce men t a gen cy co uld co lle ct them .
To e v ery o n e’s s u rp ris e , K evin W ilk s, th e bu mbling id io t fr o m s e cu rit y , had
ca ugh t J a m es V an A m bu rg . K evin w as q u it e p le a se d w it h h im se lf a nd h ap pily
r e la te d th e sto ry to S u m mer, m y p are nt s, M arg e, J.J ., an d m e a s w e fo llo w ed
H oen ek ker th ro u gh th e b ase m en t t o t he j ail.
“ I w as s ta tio n ed o u ts id e t h e fr o n t g ate s,” h e e x p la ine d, “w ork ing b ag ch eck
fo r t h e in co min g g u ests .  en I h ea rd a ll t h e co mmotio n wit h M arg e cr ash ing
in to th e p ara d e. So I ra n to th e g ate s to se e w hat w as g o ing o n, and I sa w
T ed dy a n d S u m mer u p o n th at li t tle h ill b y H ip po R iv er, point ing a t th is bi g
bald g uy a ll e xcite dly .”
“ W ow ,” S um mer s aid . “ So m eo n e a ct ually no tice d u s.”
“ Y ea h , m e ,” K evin s a id p ro u dly . “B ut I co uld n’t h ea r y o u o ver a ll t h e ch ao s.
I d id n’t re a li z e th e gu y h ad tr ie d to k ill yo u , Ted dy. I � gu re d h e’d sw ip ed
S u m mer’s p u rse o r so m eth in g. So a s h e ca me o u t th e g ate , I p u lle d m y T ase r
a n d o rd ere d h im to sto p .”
“ A nd h e l is te n ed ?” I a sk ed .
“O h n o,” K evin s a id . “N ot a t a ll. H e s h oved m e o u t o f h is w ay a n d t r ie d t o
m ak e a run f or it. ”

“S o w hat’d y ou d o, ch ase h im dow n a nd t ack le h im ?” S um mer a sk ed .
“E r .  . . n o,” K evin r e p li e d . “W hen he p u sh ed m e, I t r ip ped o ver a li t tle k id
a n d, u h, s ort o f a ccid en ta lly � re d m y T ase r.”
“ S o y ou ta se re d J am es V an A mbu rg b y a cci dent ?” M om gasp ed .
“N o.” K evin sa id . “I ta se re d a d iff ere n t g u est b y a ccid en t. B ut th en sh e fe ll
d ow n a n d V an A m bu rg t r ip ped o ver h er a n d k n ock ed h im se lf u nco nsciou s o n
th e cu rb .”
H oen ek ker crin ged , l ookin g m orti� ed b y t his s to ry .
“ W ow ,” J .J. m utte re d . “  is is a rea l cr ack sta ff w e h av e h ere .”
“  an ks!” K evin said , f aili n g to gra sp J .J.’s s arca sm .
“A ny id ea w hat th is a ccid en ta l ta sing ’s g onna cost m e?” J .J. a sk ed .
“W ell, th e w om an w as p re tty u pse t,” K evin a d m it te d . “E sp eci ally be cause it
h ap pen ed in fro n t o f h er g ra n dkid s.”
“ Y o u ta se d a g ra n dm oth er?!” J .J. e xcl aim ed , h orri� ed .
“S h e w as a v ery y o u n g a n d h ea lt h y g ra n dm oth er,” K ev in sa id in his d efe ns e.
“ N ot o n e o f t h ose o ld , w rin kly g ra nd moth ers. A nd o nce P ete  wack er o ff ere d
h er a n d h er w hole f a m ily f r e e a n nu al p asse s f o r t h e n ex t f e w y ea rs, t h ey a g re ed
n ot to su e u s. Anyh ow , by th e tim e w e to ok ca re o f all th at and g o t V an
A m bu rg cu ffed an d m ad e su re h e w as o nl y u nco nsciou s and no t d ea d o r
an yth in g, all o f y o u g u ys w ere g o ne . So s o m e o f t h e o th er g u ard s a nd I br ou gh t
V an A m bu rg o ver h ere , an d th at’s w hen I � na lly tr a ck ed C hie f H oene kker
d ow n.”
W e sto p ped b y a d oor w it h a p la q u e m ark ed JA IL . F U N JU N GLE SE C U RIT Y
O NLY . H oen ek ker to ld K evin , “Y o u’r e dis m is se d , O ffice r.  an ks fo r yo u r
w ork .”
“ Ju st d oin g m y jo b, sir !” K evin sa lu te d and m arch ed back to w ard th e
ele v ato r.
M arg e g la re d a ft e r h im . “It’s g u ard s li k e th at w ho m ak e th e r e st o f u s lo ok
b ad .”
“ Y es,” H oen ek ker g ru m ble d . “I’d h ate t o h av e h is a rre st o f V an A m bu rg ca st
a b ad li g h t o n y o u r d estr u ctio n o f t h e p ara d e t o d ay.” H e u n lo ck ed a d oor ne xt
to th e j ail.
 is le d in to a sm all, narro w o b se rv atio n ro om .  ere w as n oth ing in it
e x ce pt s ix ch air s, w hich f a ce d a la rg e w ind ow .  e w ind ow lo oked int o t h e ja il,

which w asn ’t t h at b ig e it h er: It o n ly h ad t h e t w o h old ing ce lls a nd a s m all d esk
fo r th e g u ard o n d u ty . Ja m es V an A m bu rg p ace d ba ck a n d fo rth ne rv o u sly in
o n e ce ll.  e o th er w as e m pty .  e g u ard a t th e d esk w as a y o u ng w om an I
did n’t re co gn iz e . N eit h er sh e n or Ja m es se em ed to no tice u s th ro u gh th e
w in dow .
“ is i s o n e-w ay g la ss,” H oen ek ker e x p la ine d. “W e ca n se e i n, bu t t h ey ca n’t
s e e o u t. T o t h em , it m ere ly lo oks li k e a m ir ro r. E very o ne b u t O ffice r O ’M alle y
w ill re m ain in h ere w hile I extr act th e co nfessio n fr o m V an Am bu rg .” H e
sh if t e d h is a tte n tio n to M arg e. “A nd y o u w ill n ot sp ea k u n le ss I a sk y o u to .
 is is m y s how , n ot y ou rs, is that u nd ersto od ?”
“ Y es s ir ,” M arg e a gre ed .
H oen ek ker t u rn ed t o m e. “B efo re I be gin, I ne ed y o u t o t e ll m e f o r ce rta in:
I s th at th e m an w ho th re w y ou in to t he p ola r be ar e xh ibi t? ”
“ Y es,” I said .
“ at’s h im , a ll rig ht,” S um mer e ch oed .
H oen ek ker d id n’t s e em co nvin ced. “D on’t b e ca vali e r a bo ut t h is . T ak e y o u r
tim e. I need y ou to be o ne h un dre d p erce nt sure w e h av e t he r ig h t p erso n. ”
I w as a lr e a d y a h un dre d p erce nt s u re . W it h h is bi g s iz e , his ba ld h ea d , and
h is m ea n , bea d y li t tle ey es, Ja m es V an A m bu rg w as h ard to co nfu se w it h
a n yo n e e ls e . H ow ev er, I p re te n ded to ta k e m y tim e s cr utini zing h im to a ssu re
H oen ek ker w e h ad th e rig ht m an. “ at’s d e� ni te ly h im .”
“ Y es,” S um mer a gre ed . “ He’s th e o ne who a tt a ck ed T ed dy.”
“ V ery g o od ,” H oen ek ker sa id . “N ow , Ted dy a nd S u m mer, as w it ne sse s to
V an A m bu rg ’s a ctio ns, I’l l n eed y o u to sta y h ere th e e nt ir e tim e to v erif y o r
co un te r h is sta te m en ts .” H e in se rte d a sm all tr a n sm it te r int o h is ea r, th en
p oin te d to a m icr op h on e w it h a re d b u tto n by th e w ind ow . “If I lo ok to th e
gla ss, I’m a sk in g y o u f o r co n�rm atio n. Yo u ca n le t m e k n ow t h ro u gh t h at m ic.
N ow , exa ctin g a co nfe ssio n ca n ta k e qu it e so m e tim e. H ou rs, m ay be . A
se a so n ed crim in al w on’t b e in any ru sh to ad m it h is gu ilt , le t alo ne tu rn
e vid en ce o n s o m eo n e a s p ow erfu l a s W alt e r O gilv y.” H e lo oked t o m y p are nt s
an d J .J. “ Non e o f y ou a re r eq u ir e d t o s ta y t he w hole t im e. . . . ”
“W e k n ow ,” M om s a id . “B ut it ’s im porta n t fo r u s to s e e th at th is m an gets
w hat’s co min g to him .”

“N o o n e th ro w s m y so n in to a p ola r b ea r e x h ibi t a nd g ets a w ay w it h it ,”
D ad a dded .
J.J . sa id , “If t h at a p e ca n t ie W alt e r O gilv y t o a ll t h is , I w ant t o be h ere fo r
ev ery l ast m om en t o f it. ”
“V ery w ell.  en w e’l l b eg in .” H oene kker l ed M arg e ne xt d oor.
 e r e st o f u s t o ok s e a ts in t h e o b se rv atio n ro om .  e six ch air s w ere in tw o
ro w s, s o S um mer a nd I sat in th e f r o nt w hile o ur p are nt s s at be hind us.
 ro u gh th e o n e-w ay g la ss, w e w atch ed H oene kker a n d M arg e e nt er th e
ja il.
J a m es V an A mbu rg l ooked a t th em exp ect an tly t hro u gh t he ba rs o f h is ce ll.
“ A re y o u th e g u y in ch arg e?” h e a sk ed . I h ad n’t h ea rd h im sp ea k y et th at
d ay ; it w as th e sa m e d eep , gra v elly v o ice th at h ad th re a te ne d m e a t D olp h in
A dven tu re . “ How lon g a re y ou g onna keep m e h ere ?”
H oen ek ker d id n’t a n sw er h im . Ins te a d , he to ld th e g u ard o n du ty , “Y o u’r e
re li e v ed , Priv ate . I n eed to b e h ere w it h o nl y O ffice r O ’M alle y a nd M r. Van
A m bu rg .”
“ Y es s ir ,” th e w om an s aid , a nd q uick ly l eft t he r oom .
“I sa id h ow lo n g are yo u go in g to k eep m e h ere ?” Ja m es ask ed ag ain,
s o u n din g m ore u pse t th is tim e.
O nce ag ain , H oen ek ker ig n ore d th e q u estio n. In ste a d , he to ok th e ch air
f r o m th e d esk , dra g ged it cl ose r to th e h old ing ce ll, and sa t d ow n. “M r. Van
A m bu rg , yo u’r e in a g re a t d ea l o f tr o u bl e. Yo u th re w a y o u ng b oy int o th e
pola r bea r exh ib it . I h av e co rro bo ra tio n fr o m th e bo y h im se lf , as w ell as
an oth er w it n ess a n d O ffice r O ’M alle y h ere .” H e p oin te d to M arg e, sig na li ng
t h is w as h er tim e to talk .
“ at’s rig h t,” M arg e ag re ed , sta ring b u lle ts at th e p ris o ne r. “I sa w th e
w hole th in g.”
“  ere are als o ca mera s th ro u gh ou t th e P ola r P av ili o n th at w ill ce rta inl y
pro ve yo u r gu ilt in th is m atte r,” H oene kker co ntinu ed . “ at’s atte m pte d
m urd er. O f a ch ild . Y ou co uld g o a w ay f or s ix ty y ea rs. . . . ”
“I k n ow !” J a m es e x cl aim ed . “I’m s o s o rr y ! I t w as w ro ng ! I ne ver s h ou ld h av e
d on e it !” T o m y su rp ris e , he sta rte d cr ying . A nd n ot m ere ly a fe w te a rs.  is
w as f ull- b lo w n b aw li n g, l ik e a to ddle r h av ing a m elt d ow n.
H oen ek ker s eem ed s urp ris e d b y t his a s w ell. “ Er . . . S o y ou a dm it t o t his ?”

“Y es!” J a m es w as n o lo n ger t h e t o u gh g u y w ho’d t h re a te ne d m e. Ins te a d , he
w as a b lu bberin g, f rig h te n ed m ess. R iv ers o f s not w ere r unni ng fro m his no se .
“ L ook a t h im ,” M om s a id in d is g u st. “H e’s ju st li k e a n y o th er bu lly . H ap py
to p ick o n so m eo n e sm alle r th an him , bu t th e m om ent h e’s in tr o u bl e, he
sh ow s h is tr ue co lo rs.”
“ I d id n’t m ea n to do it! ” J am es w aile d . “ It w as a n a ccident !”
“ A n a cci den t? ” H oen ek ker r e p ea te d . “H ow co uld y o u t h ro w a b oy int o t h e
pola r b ea r e xh ib it b y a ccid en t? ”
“ It w asn ’t p la n ned o r a n yth in g!” Ja m es w aile d . “I o verh ea rd th e k id sa y h e
had e vid en ce a n d I p an ick ed ! P le a se , don’t se nd m e to ja il! I ’m h ap p y to tu rn
o ver evid en ce on an yo n e yo u n eed . I kep t re co rd s! I h av e na mes! I’l l d o
an yth in g!” H e s an k to his k nees, s obbi ng unco ntro lla b ly .
H oen ek ker fr o w ned . H e a ctu ally se em ed d is a p point ed b y h ow e a sy Ja m es
w as m ak in g th is . “ Calm dow n,” h e s aid . “ W ho a re y ou w ork ing for?”
“ W alt e r O gilvy ,” J am es r ep li e d .
“ at lo w -d ow n, dir ty s n ak e!” J .J . ex cl aim ed , lo u d e no ugh t h at H oene kker
sh ot h im a w arn in g g la n ce th ro u gh t he w ind ow .
Ja m es d id n’t a p pea r t o h av e h ea rd , th ou gh . H e w as m ak ing t o o m uch no is e
h im se lf . “H e’s th e gu y yo u w an t, rig h t? H e w as th e bra ins of th e ent ir e
o p era tio n . I’l l te ll y o u a n yth in g y o u w ant to k n ow a bo ut h im . Ju st d on’t s e nd
m e to jail!”
“ W hoa,” H oen ek ker s a id . “L et’s s ta rt a t t h e b eg inni ng.  e m ore d eta il y o u
ca n g iv e m e, th e b ette r. W as th e N FF in vo lv ed w it h th is a t a ll, or w as it o nl y
O gilvy ?”
“ It w as o n ly O gilvy ,” Ja m es co n�rm ed . “ e N FF d id n’t h av e a n yth in g to
d o w it h it.  ey ’r e a b un ch of l ose rs. . . . ”
“R ea lly ?” H oen ek ker ask ed . “I th ou gh t yo u co -fo u nd ed th e gro u p w it h
C arlo s G om ez.”
“ Y ea h , bu t it w as a m is ta k e. C arlo s w as w ea k . H e o nl y w ant ed t o p ick et a nd
h an d o u t � yers in ste a d o f m on key -w re nch ing . So a co uple m ont hs a g o , I t r ie d
to s h ow h im w hat w e co uld r e a lly d o.  ere w as a T aco B ell be ing bu ilt r ig h t
by a w ild li f e r e fu ge n ea r H ou sto n , so I b u rne d it d ow n. ” J a m es s e em ed e x ci te d
a s h e to ld th is p art. I g o t th e id ea th at h e m ig h t h av e fo rm ed th e N FF a s a n
ex cu se to destr o y th in gs, ra th er th an t o p ro te ct w ild li f e .

“ at w as yo u ?” M arg e ask ed , and H oene kker gav e her a lo ok th at
in dica te d h e w asn ’t p le a se d b y h er i nt err u ptio n.
“Y ea h ,” Ja m es sa id p ro u dly . “It w asn ’t li k e th ey ’d bu ilt to o m uch y et, bu t I
to rch ed w hat th ere w as. Sen t a re a l g o od m essa g e. O nly , C arlo s w as fu rio u s.
H e ch ew ed m e ou t rig h t in fr o nt of a big N FF m eetin g, calle d m e
ir re sp on sib le , a nd k ick ed m e o ut o f t he g ro u p.”
“ S o y o u h ad a g ru dge a g ain st h im ,” H oene kker sta te d . “W hen did O gilv y
ap pro ach you ?”
“A fe w w eek s la te r,” Ja m es r e p li e d . “I m ea n , O gilv y d id n’t d o it h im se lf , of
co urse . H e se n t so m e g u ys.  ey tr ie d to k eep h is na me a se cr et, bu t th ey
w ere n ’t r o ck et s cie ntis ts .”  e s to ry w as � ow ing o u t o f J a m es s o q u ick ly no w, I
go t th e s e n se h e m ig h t h av e r e h ea rse d it , kno wing h e m ig h t h av e to tu rn over
e vid en ce . “ ey m ad e m e a ca sh o ff er.  ey w ant ed h elp ste a li ng th e p and a
an d th ey w an te d to fra m e th e N FF f or it. ”
“W hich you w ere h ap py to do,” H oene kker s aid .
“D arn str a ig h t I w as. Aft e r h ow C arlo s tr e a te d m e. So I sw ip ed so m e
en velo p es a n d p ap er f r o m t h e N FF t h at I k n ew h ad C arlo s’s � n gerp rint s o n it ,
a n d O gilvy ’s m en u se d a ll th at to p rint th e fa k e r a n so m no te s o n. I a ls o sto le
t h e li ce nse p la te s o ff C arlo s’s ca r, th en att a ch ed t h em t o a s im ila r m od el, w hich
w e u se d to dum p th e v et in th e p ark ing lot h ere .”
“ A nd w ere y ou in vo lv ed in th e a ctu al t heft o f t he p and a?” H oene kker a sk ed .
“Y es.”
“ H ow d id th at g o d ow n?”
“ W ell, O gilvy h ad b u ilt th is re p li ca tr a ile r, rig h t? E xact ly th e sa m e a s th e
on e t h e p an da w as in . So w e w ait e d a t a r e st s to p ne ar t h e b ord er o f T ex as a nd
N ew M exico w it h it . O gilvy a ls o h ad o ne o f th e d riv ers, Ju an so m eth ing o r
o th er, o n th e p ay ro ll.”
“ Ju an V ela sq u ez?”
“ Y ea h .  at’s th e g uy.”
S u m mer tu rn ed to me, im pre sse d . “ Ju st l ik e y ou s aid , T ed dy!”
I g rin ned , fe eli n g p ro u d th at m y su sp ici ons h ad tu rne d o u t to be rig h t.
A lt h ou gh at th e sa m e tim e, I w as als o enr ag ed at Ja m es V an Am bu rg and
W alt e r O gilvy for e very th in g th ey h ad d one .

Ja m es w en t on . “ at n ig h t, Ju an and th e oth er driv er and yo u”—h e
poin te d to M arg e— “m ad e a p it sto p in Las C ru ce s. Ju an bo ugh t y o u a d eca f
co ffee in ste a d o f a r e g u la r o n e, and t h en he s p ik ed it w it h s o m e s le ep m ed ici ne
to o.”
“ A ha!” M arg e e xcl aim ed . “ So it w asn ’t m y f au lt I g ot d ro w sy !”
H oen ek ker g av e h er a noth er w arn ing look t o k eep q uie t.
“  en Ju an to ok o ver th e d rivin g,” Ja m es r e p orte d , “w hile th e o th er d riv er
w en t t o s le ep in t h e t r u ck . W e fe ll in beh ind t h em a s t h ey e nt ere d T ex as.” H e
lo oked to M arg e. “O nce y o u d oze d o ff , Ju an pu lle d o ver a t a no th er re st sto p
an d w e a ll s w ap ped th e tra ile rs.”
“ H ow lon g d id th at ta ke?” H oen ek ker a sk ed .
“L ess t h an � ve m in ute s,” J a m es r e p li e d . “W e’d b een pra ct ici ng .” H e lo oked
to M arg e a gain . “ Yo u w ere s norin g l ik e a ch ains aw the w hole t im e.”
M arg e tu rn ed b rig h t r ed b ut d id n’t s ay a nyth ing .
“W hat h ap pen ed a ft e r th at? ” H oene kker i nq uir e d .
“W e b ro ke in to th e tr a ile r a n d g ra bbe d th e v et,” Ja m es r e p orte d . “S o m e o f
th e g u ys a n d I t o ok h im w hile t h e o th ers t o ok t h e t r u ck w it h t h e p and a.  ey
h eld t h e v et in a s to ra g e u n it fo r a fe w h ou rs, th en du m ped h im h ere w it h t h e
fa k e n ote to fra m e th e N FF .”
“ A nd m ea n w hile , yo u re tu rn ed to th e park in th e pan da co stu m e,”
H oen ek ker s aid .
“ at’s rig ht.”
“ W hy?”
“ O gilvy w an te d s o m eo n e to k eep a n ey e o n th e inv estig atio n. I d id n’t s te a l
th e co stu m e. O ne o f th e o th er g u ys d id th at. B ut th ey a sk ed m e to w ea r it in
t h e p ark .”
“ H ow ’d y ou g et th e co stu m e in and o ut? ”
“ I d id n’t . I t w as s ta sh ed in som e o f t he t ou ris t l ock ers h ere .”
“ S o y ou ju st w alk ed in to th e p ark , g ot i t o ut o f t he l ock er, a nd p ut i t o n? ”
“Y ea h . N o o n e e v en lo oked tw ice a t m e.  ere w ere a lo t o f fr e a k s d re sse d
u p li k e p an das th at d ay. A nd o n ce I w as w ea ring it , no o ne sto p ped m e fr o m
go in g an yw here , ev en th e em plo yee are a s. O nly , I co uld n’t g et cl ose to th e
in vestig atio n . A nd th en I saw th at k id w and ering aro u nd .”
“ T ed dy?  e o ne y ou th re w in to th e p ola r be ar e xh ibi t? ”

“Y ea h . H im . O gilvy ’s g u ys h ad sh ow n m e a p ict ure o f th e li t tle p u nk a nd
to ld m e to k eep m y e y es o p en fo r h im .  ey sa id h e o nce scr ew ed u p so m e
atte m pt to mess u p th e s hark ta nk o r s om eth ing lik e t hat.”
A t th e m en tio n o f th is , I g re w q u ea sy . W alt e r O gilv y n ot o nl y k ne w w ho I
w as, he h ad sp eci� cally o rd ere d a th ug to k eep a n ey e o n me. A s if it w asn ’t
e n ou gh th at h is p lo ttin g h ad n’t a lr e a d y k ille d m e o nce .
“A nyh ow ,” Ja m es w as sa y in g, “I sa w th e k id o ver b y th e cr im e sce ne , so I
d ecid ed to fo llo w h im a ro u n d. Su re e no ugh , he e v ent ually w ent o ver to th e
pan da e x h ib it a n d sta rte d a sk in g q u estio ns , so I � gu re d I o u gh t to sca re h im
o ff th e ca se .”
“  at’s w hen y o u th re a te n ed h im o u ts id e th e d olp h in ta n k?” H oene kker
a sk ed .
“Y ea h . I w asn ’t g o n na h urt h im o r a ny th ing . Ju st m ak e h im th in k h e co uld
g et h urt. B ut t h en h e p u lle d s o m e cr azy stu n t w it h t h e d olp h in a n d r a n o ff . So
I sp li t a n d d u m ped th e p an da c o stu m e in th e tr a sh . O gilv y’s g u ys w ere still
w orrie d a b ou t t h e k id .  ey s a id h e co uld s till be t r o u bl e. So I ca me ba ck h ere
to d ay, li k e a n orm al t o u ris t, th en ca se d t h e p and a e x h ibi t. A nd t h e k id s h ow ed
u p a g ain . I d on’t k n ow w hat h e d id ins id e, bu t w hen he ca me o u t, I o verh ea rd
h im m ak e a ca ll an d sa y h e h ad im porta n t ev id ence ab ou t th e cr im e and ,
well  .  . .” F or t h e � rst t im e s in ce h e’d s ta rte d t a lk ing , Ja m es s e em ed a t a lo ss f o r
w ord s.
“ Y o u d ecid ed to get rid of h im ,” H oene kker � ni sh ed .
“Y ea h , bu t  .  . .” Ja m es’s lo w er li p tr e m bled . It lo oked li k e h e m ig h t sta rt
cr yin g a g ain . “L ik e I s a id , I w asn ’t t h ink ing s tr a ig h t. I ju st p ani ck ed . I’m no t a
m urd ere r. . . . ”
“Y es h e is !” S um mer s nap ped . “  at j erk ! H e t rie d t o k ill T ed dy!”
J .J . co u ld n’t co nta in h im se lf a n y lo ng er e it h er.  ro u gh ou t th e co nfessio n,
h e’d b ee n tr e m bli n g, li vid a t w hat O gilv y h ad p lo tte d a g ains t h im . N ow h e
sp ra n g f r o m h is s e a t a n d p re sse d t h e m icr op h one bu tto n to t a lk t o H oene kker.
“ C hie f! Fin d ou t if th at wea se l has an y ev id ence to pro ve O gilv y’s
i n vo lv em en t!”
H oen ek ker n od d ed u n dersta n ding , th en sp oke ca lm ly to Ja m es. “It se em s
W alt e r O gilvy w as n ev er d ir e ctl y inv olv ed in th is cr im e. C an yo u p ro ve h is
co nnectio n to it? ”

“D e� n it e ly ,” Ja m es sa id . “I’m no du m my. I se cr etly re co rd ed all m y
co nversa tio n s w it h h is m en . H is n am e ca me u p a few tim es.”
“ H ot d an g!” J.J . cr ow ed , th en th ou gh t o f so m eth ing e ls e . H e p re sse d th e
m icr op h on e b utto n a nd a sk ed , “ So w here ’s L i P ing no w?”
H oen ek ker r ep ea te d th e q uestio n t o J am es.
“ U m  . . . , ” J am es s aid . “ I d on’t k now .”
“ Y o u d on’t ? ” H oen ek ker re p li e d d ou bt fu lly . “E ven th ou gh y o u h elp ed s te a l
h er?”
“ L ik e I s a id , I to ok th e v et, not th e p and a. I h ea rd O gilv y h ad a bu yer fo r
h er, b ut n o o ne e ver s aid w ho it w as.”
“ D o y ou h av e a ny cl ue w ho it m ig h t h av e be en? ” H oene kker p re sse d . “ Were
th ey in th e s ta te ? I n th e co un tr y ?”
“ I’v e to ld y ou e very th in g I k now , I sw ea r.”
H oen ek ker a bru ptly s to od a nd left t he r oom . M arg e f ollo w ed h im .
“W ait !” Ja m es ca lle d . “W here are yo u go ing ? I gav e yo u eno ugh
in fo rm atio n , did n’t I ? I ’m n ot g o ing t o ja il, rig h t? P le a se d on’t s e nd m e t o ja il!”
H e s ta rte d cr yin g l ik e a b ab y a gain.
“ D on’t w orr y ,” D ad t o ld m e. “It d oesn ’t m atte r h ow m uch inf orm atio n th at
je rk co ugh ed u p. H e w on’t g et o ff e asy . H e’s g oing aw ay f or a long tim e.”
I lo o ked t h ro u gh t h e w in dow a t J a m es. H e lo oked p ath etic, cling ing t o t h e
bars o f th e j ail ce ll a nd s ob bin g. B ut I d id n’t f eel ba d f or h im at a ll.
H oen ek ker a nd M arg e r een te re d th e o bs erv atio n r oom .
“N ice w ork in th ere ,” J.J . to ld h im , “bu t th e tim e h as co me to h and th is
o ver to th e f ed s. W e d on’t h av e th e j u ris d ict io n t o g o a ft e r O gilv y a nd they d o.”
“ I k n ow ,” H oen ek ker a g re ed . “A lt h ou gh I’m still no t su re th e F B I w ill b e
op en t o h ea rin g u s.  ey ’v e ju st pr ocl aim ed t h at t h ey ’v e s o lv ed t h e ca se t o t h e
w hole w orld . . . . ”
“N ow , l ook . . . , ” J .J. b eg an .
“H ow ev er,” H oen ek ker co ntin ued , “th e U S S ta te D ep artm en t h as it s o w n
la w e n fo rce men t a g en cy : th e D ip lo m atic Secu rit y S erv ice .  is f a lls u nd er t h eir
ju ris d ictio n to o, an d I’l l b et th ey ’d b e h ap py to sco op th e F B I . I h av e so m e
fr ie n ds o ver th ere I co uld ca ll.”
“ Y o u m ea n , th ey co uld n ail O gilv y a n d m ak e m y sis te r lo ok b ad ?” M arg e
ask ed . “ So u n ds g ood to me.”

“I d on’t ca re w ho h an dle s it , as lo n g a s t h ey ca n g et it d one ,” J .J . sa id . “W e
don’t h av e tim e to �ddle a ro u n d h ere . W e s till ne ed t o � nd that p and a.”
H oen ek ker s aid , “ Unfo rtu n ate ly , t hat s till m ig h t t ak e a w hile .”
“ H ow lon g?” S um mer a sk ed , w orrie d .
“I h av e n o id ea ,” H oen ek ker a d m it te d . “D ay s if w e’r e lu ck y. W eek s if w e’r e
n ot. M ay b e e ven m on th s.”
“ I d on’t h av e m on th s!” J .J. e xcl aim ed .
“N eit h er d oes L i P in g,” I p oin te d o u t. “S h e o nl y li k es o n e k in d o f b am boo,
an d if w hoev er g o t h er d oesn ’t h av e it , sh e’s g o ing to be  .  . .” I tr a ile d o ff
m id se n te n ce , a n id ea co min g to me.
“ D ea d ?” M om �nis h ed .
“M ay b e n ot,” I said . “ I th in k I k now w here s he i s.”

AN IM AL H O USE
For t h e s e co n d t im e i n tw o d ay s, a heli co pte r l an ded a t F unJ ung le .
H ow ev er, th is tim e J.J . had re q u este d it h im se lf . It h ad o nl y ta k en him a
fe w p h on e ca lls t o co n�rm m y s u sp ici ons a b ou t w ho h ad L i P ing , aft e r w hich
h e’d t o ld L yn da t o g et h im a h eli co pte r. Tw ent y m inu te s la te r, it w as t o u ch ing
d ow n b eh in d th e v ete rin ary h osp it a l.
J .J ., Su m mer, D ad , an d I q u ick ly bo ard ed it . I w as inv it e d be cause J.J .
need ed m e, an d D ad w as in vite d be cause h e ins is te d I o u gh t to h av e a p are nt
a lo n g. Su m mer sim ply ca me b eca use sh e w an te d to , and S u m mer co uld be
ev en h ard er to sa y n o to th an J .J .  e m om ent w e w ere bu ckle d in, th e p ilo t
li f t e d o ff a nd w e ra ced n orth o ver t he p ark .
 e h eli co pte r w asn ’t q u it e a s fa st a s a p riv ate je t, bu t it still � ew a t 1 30
m ile s a n h ou r.  e r o lli n g m ou n ds o f t h e H ill C ou nt ry q u ick ly g av e w ay t o t h e
� atte r pla in s of ce ntr a l T exa s. It to ok onl y an hou r fo r us to re a ch ou r
destin atio n .
It w as t h e b ig gest h ou se I ’d e v er s e en, ev en big ger t h an J .J .’s — an d h e w as a
b illi o n air e . I h ad w orrie d t h ere m ig h t n ot b e a p la ce f o r t h e h eli co pte r t o la nd ,
bu t th at tu rn ed ou t to be un fo u nd ed :  e fr o nt la w n was th e siz e of a
pro fe ssio n al fo otb all � eld .  e h ou se it s e lf h ad b la ta n tly be en mod ele d a ft e r
th e W hit e H ou se , w it h s ta te ly co lu m ns, a n e norm ou s p ortico , a nd s ym metr ica l
win gs.
 at w ou ld h av e b een s tr a n ge e n ou gh .  en I n otice d t h e z e br as g ra zing in
t h e b ack yard .

At � rst, I th ou gh t m y e y es w ere p la y ing tr ick s o n me.  e s u n was s e tting ,
so I � gu re d m ay b e t h ey w ere w hit e h orse s w it h s h ad ow s ca st a cr oss t h em . B ut
as w e g o t lo w er, I co uld s e e t h ey w ere d e� ni te ly z e br as.  ere w ere f o u rte en of
th em .
 ere w as a ls o a h ip pop ota m us in the s w im ming pool.
I t w as on ly a pyg m y hip po, which w as sig ni �ca ntly sm alle r th an th e
co mmon h ip po, bu t still, it w as o d d.  e p ool it s e lf a p pea re d to be u n� t fo r
h um an u se . It w as m urk y b ro w n a n d t h ere w ere p la n ts g ro w ing in it . A s e co nd
hip po b ob bed to th e s urfa ce as I w atch ed .
“H oly co w!” D ad e xcl aim ed . “ Look a t a ll t hose ca ts !”
H e w as sta rin g o u t th e w in dow o n th e o p posit e sid e o f t h e h eli co pte r. I
jo in ed h im a n d s a w a lo n g li n e o f f e nce d e ncl osu re s. E ach h ad a bi g ca t p aci ng
in sid e it: tigers , lio n s, p an th ers, a nd leo p ard s.
“ Ju m pin g J im in y, s he’s g ot e ven m ore t ig ers t han F unJ ung le ,” J .J. s aid .
“ ey d on’t h av e m uch room , th ou gh ,” S um mer o bs erv ed .
It w as tr u e. Each ca t’s p en w as o nl y a fe w yard s lo ng . And it se em ed
u n li k ely t h ey w ou ld e v er b e le t o u t fo r e x erci se , as t h ey ’d p ro ba bly e a t s o m e o f
th e o th er a nim als .
 e h eli co pte r s w oop ed o ver th e h ou se a n d lo w ere d to w ard th e fr o nt y ard .
A h erd o f im pala s s ca tte re d a s w e t ou ch ed d ow n.
J.J . sp ra n g o u t b efo re th e r o to rs e v en sto p ped tu rni ng a n d s to rm ed to w ard
th e f ro n t d oor.
D ad , S um mer, a nd I scra mble d o ut a ft e r h im .
A lim ou sin e w as p ark ed b y th e f ro n t p ortico . It w as p eriw ink le bl ue.
A m an in a t u xed o e m erg ed f r o m t h e h ou se a s w e ca me u p t h e f r o nt s te p s. I
re co gn iz e d h im a s A rth ur, th e m an who h ad a cco mpani ed F lo ra H anco ck o n
h er vis it to F un Ju n gle . H is fa ce w as � ush ed w it h a ng er. “W hat d o y o u th ink
y o u’r e d oin g?” h e y elle d . “ is is p riv ate p ro p erty ! Y o u ca n’t ju st la nd y o u r
h eli co pte r h ere !”
“ W ell, yo u’r e n ot su ppose d to ste a l o th er p eo p le ’s p an da b ea rs, eit h er,” J.J .
re p li e d . “ But y ou r e m plo yer d oesn ’t s eem to h av e m uch of a n issu e w it h t hat.”
A rth ur re co ile d in s u rp ris e . H is a ng er ins ta n tly b eca me fe a r. “I d on’t k no w
what y ou’r e ta lk in g a bou t,” h e s aid , t hou gh it w as o bvio u sly a lie .

“W here ’s F lo ra ?” J .J . dem an ded . “I s e e th at g o d -a w fu l li m o o f h ers is h ere ,
so s he m ust b e to o.”
“ S h e’s n ot,” A rth ur s a id in a v o ice o n th e e d ge o f p ani c. “S h e h ad t o g o s e e
h er s is te r. I don’t k now w hen s he’l l b e ba ck.”
A s h e sa id th is , h ow ev er, I ca ugh t a gli m pse o f F lo ra H anco ck h erse lf ,
p eek in g th ro u gh th e d ra p es a t a w ind ow to t he r ig h t o f t he f ro nt door.
S u m mer s aw h er to o a nd p oin te d a ccu sing ly . “ Sh e’s r ig h t t here , D ad dy!”
F lo ra q uick ly d uck ed a w ay, h id in g f ro m sig h t.
J .J . dod ged a ro u n d A rth ur a n d s li p ped t h ro u gh t h e o p en door b eh ind h im .
 e re st o f u s d id th e sa m e. A rth ur no w a p pea re d co mple te ly u ns ure w hat to
d o. “ Sto p !” h e cried impote n tly , th en t hou gh t t o a dd, “ Ple a se ?”
W e ig n ore d h im , hea d in g str a ig h t to w ard th e ro om w here S u m mer a nd I
h ad s een F lo ra . A lt h ou gh I d id h av e t o p au se br ie � y t o t ak e i n t he e nt ry f oyer.
I t w as b ig ger th an m y e n tir e h ou se . Tw o e no rm ou s sta ir ca se s sw ep t d ow n
th e s id es, an d a g ig an tic cr ysta l ch an deli e r d an gle d a b ove o u r h ea d s. H ow ev er,
t h e r o om w as in t e rrib le s h ap e.  e w ood � oor a nd t h e w allp ap er w ere s ca rre d
w it h t h ou sa n ds o f cl aw m ark s, w hile t h e n ew els o f t h e b an is te r a ll a p pea re d t o
h av e b een g n aw ed o n . C lu m ps o f h air th e siz e o f ba se ba lls ro lle d a cr oss th e
� oor l ik e tu mble w eed s. A nd th e w hole p la ce reek ed o f a nim al p ee.
J.J . th re w o pen th e d oors to th e n ex t r oom and m arch ed r ig h t i n.
It w as a fo rm al li vin g ro om , deco ra te d w it h e x tr e m ely fa ncy fu rni tu re , oil
p ain tin gs, an d ra ck s of an cie nt h un ting ri� es. It lo oked str a ig h t ou t of a
E uro p ea n ca stle — ex ce pt e v ery th ing h ere h ad b een su lli e d b y a ni m als a s w ell.
 ere w ere s la sh es in t h e u ph ols te ry , th e ca rp ets w ere co vere d w it h f u r, and t h e
to p s o f th e p ictu re f ra m es w ere s pe ckle d w it h bi rd p oop .
F lo ra H an co ck sa t o n a sh re d ded v elv et co uch , hav ing te a . Even th ou gh it
w as o ver a h un dre d d eg re es o u ts id e, sh e w ore a co at a nd g lo ves. Sh e w as d oing
h er b est t o a ct in n oce nt, as t h ou gh s h e h ad n’t s e en us t h ro u gh t h e w ind ow —o r
ev en h ea rd th e h eli co pte r la n d o n h er la w n—bu t s h e w as d oing a p oor jo b of
it . S he w as a s s kit tis h a s o ne o f h er i m pala s.
T w o s ca rle t m aca ws p erch ed o n th e co uch be hind her.
A nd a y o u n g o ra n gu ta n in a t u xed o s to od t o h er s id e. It lo oked t o be a bo ut
� ve y ea rs o ld . Its t u x �t it a lo t b ett e r t h an X av ie r’s h ad � t h im . G iv en th at t h e

ora n gu ta n ’s a rm s w ere tw ice as l on g a s its leg s, I had to assu m e i ts s uit h ad b een
cu sto m ta ilo re d .
“W hy, J.J . M cC ra ck en !” F lo ra co oed , tr y ing to so u nd na tu ra l. “W hat a
d eli g h tfu l s urp ris e ! W hate v er b rin gs y ou h ere ?”
“ Y o u k now exa ctl y w hy I ’m here ,” J .J. g ro w le d . “ W here ’s L i P ing ?”
F lo ra l au gh ed . “ Well, h ow shou ld I k now , s ugar? I sure ly d on’t h av e h er.”
“ I’m s o rr y , m ad am ,” A rth ur a p olo giz e d , scu rr y ing int o t h e r o om b eh ind u s.
“ I trie d to sto p th em . . . . ”
“It’s a ll r ig h t,” F lo ra t o ld h im , th en sh if t e d h er a tt e nt io n to J .J . “W ou ld y ’a ll
ca re fo r so m e te a ? I ’m te a ch in g S u ki h ere to se rv e it , ju st li k e a re g u la r y o u ng
gen tle m an .”
S u ki, th e o ra n gu ta n , h eld u p th e te ap ot, e ag er t o s how o ff h is a bi li t ie s.
“ N o, I don’t w an t a ny te a!” J .J. s na pped . “ I w ant m y p and a!”
“ P an da!” th e m aca ws e ch oed . “ Pand a! P and a! P and a!”
F lo ra g la n ce d a t th em n erv o u sly , as th ou gh th ey h ad b etr a y ed h er. “L ik e I
sa id , th ere is no p an da h ere . H ow o n e arth d id y ou e ver g et s uch a w ild id ea ?”
J .J . pu t a n a rm a ro u n d m e. “T ed dy h ere � gu re d it o u t. I u nd ersta nd y o u
tw o m et a t m y p ark y este rd ay ?”
“ W hy y es, w e d id .” F lo ra s e em ed e v en more n erv o u s n ow , alt h ou gh s h e w as
still s tr u ggli n g to main ta in co mposu re . “ It’s a p le a su re t o s ee y ou a gain, T ed dy.”
“ Y o u to o, m a’a m ,” I s a id , ev en th ou gh th at w as a li e . It s im ply s e em ed li k e
th e rig ht th in g to say.
B eh in d F lo ra ’s b ack , Su ki stu ck th e sp ou t o f th e te a p ot in his m ou th a nd
slu rp ed s o m e te a o u t o f it . A ppare nt ly , he w asn ’t q u it e a s g o od a t s e rv ing it a s
F lo ra th ou gh t.
J .J . sa t b esid e F lo ra s o I co uld b e t h e ce nt er o f a tte nt io n. “T ed dy, w ou ld y o u
p le a se e xp la in to Flo ra h ow y ou k no w she h as L i P ing ?”
I ste p ped b ack , su rp ris e d to b e pu t o n th e sp ot li k e th is . For a m om ent , I
fe lt a lit tle n erv o u s, w on derin g if I w as a ct ually r ig h t.
D ad g av e m e a re a ssu rin g p at o n th e ba ck. “G o o n, Ted dy,” h e sa id . “T ell
h er.”
I sw allo w ed , th en la u n ch ed in to m y e x p la na tio n. “W ell, M is s H anco ck, I
w as th in kin g a bou t th e co nversa tio n w e h ad a t P and a P ala ce yeste rd ay —”

“E xa ctl y m y p oin t,” F lo ra b u tte d in. “W hy o n ea rth w ou ld I h av e co me
dow n to Fun Ju n gle to see L i P in g i f s he w as h ere ?”
“ F lo ra ,” J.J . sa id ste rn ly . “I’m su re a w om an su ch a s y o u rse lf is w ell a w are
th at it ’s b ad m an ners to in te rr u pt so m eo ne w hen th ey ’r e ta lk ing . So , if y o u
d on’t m in d, p le a se k eep y ou r tra p s hut u nt il T ed dy’s � ni sh ed .”
F lo ra s at b ack , lookin g w ou n ded , bu t s he d id n’t s ay a nyth ing els e .
“A t � rst, I � gu re d yo u r b ein g at F unJ ung le m ad e yo u inno cent ,” I to ld
F lo ra . “B ut t h en I t h ou gh t a b ou t t h e t im ing . W ord d id n’t g et o u t t h at L i P ing
w as g o in g to b e a t F un Ju n gle u n til y este rd ay m orni ng . So w hen ex act ly d id
y o u lea v e f or F un Ju n gle ?”
“ I s uppose a ro u n d n in e a .m . or s o,” F lo ra r ep li e d . “ Is n ’t t hat r ig h t, A rth ur?”
“ E r  .  . .  ,” A rth ur sa id , su rp ris e d to be ca lle d o n li k e th is . “Y es, m a’a m .
 at’s co rre ct. ”
“R ea lly ?” I a sk ed . “B eca use th e ne ws th at L i P ing h ad b een kid na pped w as
re p orte d aro u n d te n . Yo u li v e th re e h ou rs fr o m F unJ ung le b y ca r—s o yo u
w ou ld n’t h av e e v en b een a th ir d o f th e w ay to F unJ ung le y et. W hy d id n’t y o u
tu rn a ro u n d a nd g o h om e?”
F lo ra g re w � uste re d . H er h an ds b eg an to tr e m ble. “I .  . . uh  .  . . I th ink I
re m em bere d w ro n g,” s h e s ta m mere d . “I b eli e v e w e le ft m uch e a rli e r in th e d ay.
S ev en o ’cl ock , p erh ap s.”
“ Y es!” A rth ur a gre ed . “  at’s rig ht! I t w as s ev en! ”
“S o th en ,” J.J . sa id su sp icio usly , “a t se v en in th e m orni ng , yo u h ea rd th e
n ew s a b ou t L i P in g a n d, on t h e s p u r o f t h e m om ent , ju m ped int o t h e ca r f o r a
t h re e-p lu s-h ou r d riv e d ow n to my p ark ?”
“ W ell, I .  . . ,” F lo ra b eg an n erv o u sly . “I’m n ot e x act ly s u re w hen w e le ft . I
ca n’t q uit e r eca ll th e tim in g o f th e e vent s.”
“ Y o u ca n’t ? ” J .J. n arro w ed h is e yes. “ It w as o nl y y este rd ay.”
U nse ttle d b y t h is li n e o f q u estio n ing , F lo ra w ent t o p u t s u gar in her t e a a nd
k n ock ed th e e ntir e b ow l o ff th e te a ca rt. I t s hatte re d o n t he � oor. “ Oop sie !” s he
ex cl aim ed .
“O op sie !” th e m aca ws r ep ea te d . “ Oop sie ! O op sie ! O op sie !”
“ I se em to b e a ll th um bs to d ay,” F lo ra sa id . “A rth ur, co uld y o u h elp m e
clea n th is u p?” S he b eg an to ris e f ro m her s ea t.

I g o t th e im pre ssio n th at F lo ra h ad k no cked o ver th e su gar o n pu rp ose to
d is tr a ct u s f ro m our q uestio n s.
J .J . se em ed t o s u sp ect th e s a m e t h ing . H e w as o n his f e et b efo re s h e w as. “A
li t tle sp ille d su gar is n o b ig d ea l. A sto le n pand a is . So fo r no w, le t’s fo rg et
a b ou t th e fa ct th at yo u ca n’t re m em be r th e d eta ils of yeste rd ay m orni ng .
Acco rd in g to Ted dy, th ere ’s f urth er e vid ence that y ou h av e L i P ing .”
“ Y es,” I s a id . “G iv en t h e w eir d t im ing o f y o u r v is it , M is s H an co ck, I s ta rte d
th in kin g th at m ay b e y o u’d co me d ow n fo r s o m e r e a so n besi d es s e ein g L i P in g.
Y este rd ay yo u ad m it te d yo u rse lf th at yo u w ere li s te ni ng to m e and C hlo é
D olk art n ea r Pan da Pala ce , bu t yo u did n’t ap pro ach us unt il a ft e r C hlo é
m en tio n ed th at L i P in g o n ly e a ts o ne k ind o f ba mboo. H ow ev er, sh e h ad n’t
s a id w hat th at w as. S o th at’s w hen y ou ca me o ver—”
“ W hat k in d o f e vid en ce is t h at? ” F lo ra int err u pte d . “I w as m ere ly in te re ste d
in w hat th e p an da a te . Is n ’t a la d y a llo w ed to b e int ere ste d in so m eth ing li k e
th at? ”
“ S u re , if s h e’s g o t a s to le n p an da t h at w on’t e a t,” S u m mer s a id . Sh e s te p p ed
fo rw ard , tir e d of sit tin g on th e sid eli ne s so lo ng . “H ere ’s w hat w e th in k
hap pen ed , la d y. W alt e r O gilvy ’s m en sto le L i P ing t w o n ig h ts a g o a nd br ou gh t
her r ig h t h ere t o y o u . O nly , yo u h ad n’t d one y o u r h om ew ork a n d t h ou gh t y o u
co uld ju st giv e h er an y old b am bo o. N o m atte r w hat yo u tr ie d , Li P ing
w ou ld n’t e a t it . W hich w as a b ig p ro bl em . U nf ortu na te ly , yo u co uld n’t ju st ca ll
u p F un Ju n gle a n d a sk fo r h elp w it h fe ed ing y o u r sto le n pand a. So y o u a nd
A rth ur d ecid ed to ta k e a ro ad tr ip . Yo u d ro ve d ow n to F unJ ung le a nd lu rk ed
a ro u n d P an da P ala ce u n til y o u o verh ea rd T ed dy a nd C hlo é t a lk ing a bo ut w hat
y o u n eed ed t o k n ow .  en y o u p este re d t h em fo r d eta ils u nt il y o u le a rne d t h e
rig h t k in d o f b am boo fo r L i P in g, ra ce d h om e, an d o rd ere d a s m uch a s y o u
co uld . Yo u g o t th e in fo y o u n ee d ed —a nd a t th e sa m e tim e g av e y o u rse lf a n
ali b i, actin g li k e y o u w ere a ll u pse t a n d su rp ris e d L i P ing w asn ’t a t F unJ ung le
w hen y ou’d b een in vo lv ed in her a bd uct io n t he w hole t im e!”
“ I ca nnot b eli e v e t h is !” F lo ra e x cl aim ed . Sh e w as t r y ing t o s o u nd ind ig na nt,
bu t s h e s o u n ded n erv o u s in ste a d . “T o t h ink y o u a ll w ou ld h av e t h e a u daci ty t o
co me in to m y h om e a nd a ccu se m e o f s uch a h eino us cr im e!”
“ O h, w e’r e n ot a ccu sin g y o u ,” J.J . sa id . “W e h av e p ro of y o u d id it . W e’r e
m ere ly e xp la in in g h ow T ed dy � gu re d it o u t. Yo u s e e, Flo ra , W olo ng ba mbo o,

th e t y p e L i P in g li k es, doesn ’t g ro w in Tex as. It g ro w s in co ld r e g io ns , li k e t h e
on es w here p an das li v e. It’s n ot e a sy t o g et.  ere a re o nl y a fe w p la ce s in th is
co un tr y th at g ro w it , an d th ey ’r e a ll in Colo ra d o. I h ap pen to k no w th em a ll,
s in ce I’m a cu sto m er, so I ca lle d th em u p th is a ft e rno on. Lo a nd be hold , th e
se co nd o ne I trie d h ad ju st s old th eir e nt ir e s hip m ent  . . . t o y ou .”
F lo ra d id n’t r ep ly . I nste a d , s he s at t here , h er e yes n erv o u sly d arting fro m one
of u s to th e n ext, l ik e s he w as tr ying to � gu re o ut w hat t o s ay.
S u ki ca me to F lo ra ’s sid e, sco op ed a h and fu l o f th e sp ille d su gar o ff th e
� oor, a nd d um ped it in to h is m ou th .
“A ll r ig h t,” F lo ra s a id � n ally , “I a d m it , I p u rch ase d a p an da, bu t I th ou gh t I
w as g ettin g o n e le g ally . I h ad n o id ea th at s co und re l W alt e r O gilv y w as g o ing
t o s te a l L i P in g f ro m you u ntil th e ne ws br oke. . . . ”
J.J . gro an ed . “F lo ra , th at is th e b ig gest lo ad o f b u ll p ato otie I ’v e e v er h ea rd
in m y li f e . Yo u k n ow fu ll w ell th ere ’s n o w ay fo r a p riv ate ci tiz e n to le g ally
a cq uir e a pan da. Em ily Su n fr o m th e C hine se C ons ula te sa y s yo u hav e
ap pro ach ed h er a b ou t it r e p ea te d ly a nd t h at s h e h as t o ld y o u e a ch t im e t h at it
ca n’t b e d on e.”
“ E m ily S u n k n ow s w ho yo u are ?” I ask ed F lo ra , una ble to co ntain my
su rp ris e . “S o th at’s w hy sh e lo o ked so an gry yeste rd ay at P an da P ala ce ! I
th ou gh t s he w as u pse t a t m e, b ut s h e w as r ea lly u pse t t o s ee y ou !”
F lo ra l ow ere d h er e yes g uilt ily b ut d id n’t s ay a nyth ing .
“ ere fo re ,” J .J . w en t o n , “y o u w ere e it h er co mple te ly a w are th at y o u w ere
p u rch asin g a p an da ille g ally — or y o u h av e m ore ba ts in yo u r be lf r y t h an Saint
P ete r’s C ath ed ra l.”
F lo ra ’s h an d w en t to h er ch est. “W hy, J.J . M cC ra ck en! H ow d are yo u
im pu gn m y h on or!”
J .J . sa id , “If I w an te d to im pu gn yo u r hono r, I’d hav e se nt th e Sta te
D ep artm en t h ere in ste a d o f co ming m yse lf . And b y to m orro w , ev ery ne ws
ch an nel in th e co un tr y w ou ld b e r u n ni ng s to rie s o n yo u . Yo u w ou ld ins ta nt ly
b eco me th e m ost hate d w om an in th e w orld : th e th ie f w ho w illi ng ly
p articip ate d in th e k id n ap pin g o f a g ia n t p an da— an d w ho a llo w ed a n ani m al
rig h ts g ro u p to be f ra m ed f or it. ”
“ e N FF is n ’t a n a n im al r ig h ts g ro u p,” F lo ra s co ffed . “ ey ’r e a b u nch o f
h ooli g an s w ho d on’t th in k a nyo n e o ugh t t o be allo w ed t o h av e p ets !”

“H av e th ey ca use d tr ou ble f or y ou b efo re ?” m y f ath er a sk ed .
“O n to o m an y o cca sio n s to co un t.” F lo ra f anne d h erse lf w it h a n o pen p alm .
“ ey p ick et m y p ro p erty !  ey p ro te st o u ts id e m y g ate s! Y o u sh ou ld h ea r
so m e o f th e s cu rrilo u s th in gs th ey ’v e s aid a bou t m e!”
S u ki ca me t o m y s id e, h old in g a t e a cu p a n d a s a u ce r.  e te a cu p w as u psid e
dow n an d th e sa u ce r w as �lle d w it h te a , possibl y re g u rg it a te d by th e
ora n gu ta n .
“E r . . .  an ks,” I said , tr yin g to be poli t e .
“ S o y o u a d m it t o h avin g a m otiv e a g ains t t h e N FF ,” J .J . sa id t o F lo ra . “If I
h ad ch ose n to le t th e m ed ia in o n th is sto ry , I’m su re th ey w ou ld h av e h ad a
� eld d ay w it h th at in fo rm atio n . B ut I ’v e k ep t m y m ou th s hut—s o f ar.”
“ A ll rig h t,” F lo ra sa id , her vo ice a li t tle h ard er-e d ged th an it h ad be en
b efo re . “ I s ee y ou d o u ndersta n d th e co nce pt o f h ono r.”
“ I d o,” J .J . ag re ed . “A nd t o t h at e nd , I’m t a k ing d ra stic ste p s t o e ns ure t h at
y o u r n am e d oesn ’t e n d u p in th e ne wsp ap ers. I h ad to tw is t a lo t o f a rm s to
k eep th e S ta te D ep artm en t a n d th e C hine se g o vernm ent fr o m th ro w ing th e
book a t y o u . For t h e t im e b ein g, th ey ’r e h ap py t o ju st p ro se cu te W alt e r O gilv y.
B ut if I g av e t h em t h e g re en li g h t, th ey ’d co me a ft e r y o u , to o. A nd t h ey ’d d o it
f a st.”
F lo ra ’s f a ca de o f g o od h um or f a d ed . Sh e s to od s h ak ily a n d le d u s a cr oss t h e
ro om . “I m ea n t h er n o h arm ,” sh e sa id . “In a se ns e, I a ct ually p ro te ct ed h er.
M r. O gilvy cl aim ed h e h ad a d ru g d ea le r d ow n in M ex ico w ho w ant ed t o bu y
th e pan da. Good n ess kn ow s how th at ru ffi an wou ld hav e tr e a te d su ch a
deli ca te cr ea tu re . B ut I ste p ped in and offere d m ore m one y.”
“ I’d b e w illi n g t o b et t h at’s a ll a lo ad o f h ooey,” J .J . to ld h er. “O gilv y s im ply
co nned y ou in to j ack in g u p th e p rice .”
F lo ra ig n ore d th e accu sa tio n . “A s yo u ca n se e, I gav e L i P ing as go od
acco mmod atio n s a s a n yo n e co uld h op e f o r.” S h e o p ene d t h e d oor i nt o t h e ne xt
ro om .
It w as a p la y ro om fo r h um an ch ild re n, fu ll o f to ys an d b ooks. But no w
th ere w as a liv e p an da in it.
I w as h it b y a cl ou d o f d iff ere n t e m otio ns : prid e th at I ’d fo u nd th e p and a,
an ger a t F lo ra fo r h elp in g ste a l it , and a m aze m ent a t b eing so cl ose to su ch a
r a re a n d b ea u tif u l cr ea tu re f o r t h e � rst t im e. L i P ing w as s le ep ing in th e co rne r.

an kfu lly , sh e still lo oked h ea lt h y. Flo ra h ad p ro vid ed lo ts o f b am bo o a nd a
tu b o f w ate r, bu t h ad n’t d on e m uch e ls e t o p re p are .  e p la ce r e ek ed o f p and a
pee.
 e b am boo h ad n’t b een to u ch ed . It w as b ro w ni ng , th e le a v es still o n th e
sh aft s .
“ S h e h asn ’t e ate n a nyth in g?” D ad a sk ed , co ncerne d.
“N o,” F lo ra ad m it te d , lo okin g ash am ed . “O nly a b it o f fr u it sa la d . I’m
a fr a id th e W olo n g b am boo I o rd ere d w on’t a rr iv e u nt il t om orro w .”
“ W e b ro u gh t s o m e o n t h e ch op per,” J .J . sa id . “N ot a lo t, bu t e no ugh t o t id e
h er o ver u ntil th e tr uck gets h ere .”
“ T ru ck ?” F lo ra r ep ea te d , ca ugh t o ff g uard . “ W hat t ru ck ?”
“  e o n e I’m se n din g to co lle ct her,” J.J . re p li e d . “It’l l b e h ere in a fe w
h ou rs. M y p eo p le w ill t h en r e m ove L i P ing f r o m t h ese p re m is e s, and y o u a re n ’t
g o in g to do a nyth in g to sto p th em .”
“ A nd in re tu rn fo r th at, yo u’l l keep m e fr o m be ing p ro se cu te d ?” M is s
H an co ck ask ed .
“O h, I’m ju st g ettin g s ta rte d ,” J .J . to ld h er. “O ver th e ne xt fe w w eek s, yo u
w ill b eg in t o t r a n sfe r y o u r e n tir e co lle ct io n of a n im als t o F unJ ung le . I w ill p ay
y o u a fa ir p rice fo r th em , an d I w ill g iv e a ll o f th em q u ali t y ca re a nd d ece nt
pla ce s to liv e. . . . ”
“M y p ets !” F lo ra g asp ed . “ Yo u w ou ld n’t d are t ak e t hem fro m m e!”
“ F lo ra ,” J .J . sa id , “I d on’t d ou bt t h at y o u lo ve t h ese a ni m als a nd t h at y o u’r e
d oin g y o u r b est to te n d to th em , bu t th e co nd it io ns y o u’r e k eep ing so m e o f
th ese cr ea tu re s in is d ep lo ra b le . If y o u re a lly d o ca re abo ut th em , th en yo u
kn ow w hat I ’m offerin g y ou is th e r ig h t t hing to d o.”
F lo ra g la n ce d to S u m mer a n d m e. I g o t th e se ns e th at, if w e h ad n’t be en
th ere , sh e m ig h t h av e th ro w n a � t. B ut no w sh e w as str u ggli ng to m aint ain a
se n se o f d eco ru m .
“H e’l l g iv e th em a v ery g ood h om e,” S um mer s aid .
“A nd s o m an y o th er ch ild re n w ill g et t o s e e t h em t h ere ,” I a d ded . “W ou ld n’t
y o u li k e to sh are all th ese w on derfu l an im als w it h th e p u bli c, ra th er th an
k eep in g th em all to you rse lf ? ”
F lo ra str u ggle d to k eep a sm ile o n her fa ce . It w as e v id ent th at sh e d id n’t
w an t t o s h are h er a n im als w it h t h e p u bli c; if s h e h ad , th ey w ou ld h av e a lr e a d y

been in zoos, ra th er th an h er h ou se . “ I s uppose ,” s he s aid t hro u gh g rit te d t eeth .
“V ery w ell, th en ,” J .J . sa id . “A ft e r L i P ing i s o n her w ay ba ck t o m e, I’l l s e nd
u p a n a dvan ce te am to ca ta lo g a ll t he a nim als y ou h av e h ere o n y ou r p ro p erty .”
A t t h e t h ou gh t o f t h is , F lo ra s e em ed t o a g e t w ent y y ea rs in a s e co nd . “E very
la st o ne o f th em ?”
“ E very la st o n e,” J.J . re p ea te d . “I’m su re y o u ca n ev en get a lo ng w it h ou t
Su ki th ere . A ft e r a ll, yo u h av e a re a l b u tle r, an d p ard on me fo r sa y ing so , bu t
th at o ra n gu ta n s uck s e ggs w hen it co mes t o s erv ing tea .”
S u ki s tu ck out h is to ngu e a nd g av e J .J. a rasp berr y .
J.J . allo w ed u s o n e la st lo ok a t L i P ing , th en close d t h e d oor a nd u sh ere d u s
all b ack to ward th e f ro n t d oor.
“ J.J .,” F lo ra sa id , lo okin g d efe a te d n ow . “Y o u ind ica te d a fa ir p rice fo r a ll
t h e o th er a nim als — bu t y ou d id n’t m ent io n o ne for L i P ing .”
“  at’s b eca use L i P in g is m y p an da,” J.J . exp la in ed . “Y o u sto le h er fr o m
m e.”
“W alt e r O gilv y sto le h er fr o m y o u ,” F lo ra co rre ct ed . “I p u rch ase d h er fr o m
h im at a v ery s te ep p rice .”
“ W ell th en , th at’s b etw een y o u a n d W alt e r O gilv y.” J.J . to ok F lo ra b y th e
arm a n d s te ere d h er b ack i n to t h e li v ing r o om . “If y o u’d li k e t o t a k e t h is m atte r
u p w it h th e a uth orit ie s, b e m y g uest.”
F lo ra ’s k n ees b u ck le d . Sh e s a n k in to a ch air . Su ki p ro ff ere d h er a t e a cu p t h at
a ctu ally h ad s om e te a in it.
To m y d is g u st, Flo ra d ra n k it . E it h er sh e w as so sh ak en by e v ent s th at sh e
did n’t r ea li z e S uki h ad g otte n o ra n gu ta n s pit i n i t, o r s he d id n’t ca re .
 ere w as a su dden m ovem en t b eh ind m e. I sp u n a ro u nd , fe a ring o ne o f
th e b ig ca ts m ig h t h av e g o tte n in to th e h ou se , bu t sa w so m eth ing e v en more
fr ig h te n in g.
A rth ur h ad sn atc h ed o n e o f th e o ld h un ting ri� es o ff th e w all, an d w it h a
lo ok o f t o ta l h atr e d o n h is f a ce , he a im ed it a t J .J . U nfo rtu na te ly , Su m mer a nd
I w ere s ta n din g rig ht b etw een th em .
I d ove, ta ckli n g S um mer to th e � oor.
 an kfu lly , D ad w as m ovin g e v en fa ste r th an I w as. H e br oad sid ed A rth ur
ju st a s th e b utle r p ulle d th e trig ger.
 e s hot w en t w id e, b la stin g a n o ld v ase t o s m it h ere ens .

Sta rtle d b y th e n ois e , th e m aca ws to ok to th e a ir . Su ki le a p ed o nt o th e te a
ca rt, upse ttin g w hat fe w pie ce s of ch ina h ad n’t been bro ken alr e a d y, and
ca re en ed a cr oss t h e r o om in to t h e w all. A p ortr a it o f a n o ld m an t o p ple d o nt o
Su ki, w ho to re rig ht th ro u gh it.
F lo ra g asp ed in horro r. “ Gre a t- g ra nd fa th er!”
D ad an d A rth ur w ere n ow g ra p pli ng w it h th e ri� e. D esp it e b eing m uch
old er th an D ad , Arth ur w as su rp ris ing ly str o ng . “Y o u’l l nev er ta k e ou r
an im als !” h e y elle d . “ Nev er!”
D ad s o ck ed h im in th e fa ce h ard e no ugh to s e nd h is d ent ure s � ying .  ey
sk it te re d acr oss th e � oor o n e w ay w hile th e ri� e sk it te re d an oth er. Arth ur
stu m ble d b ack ward , th en to ok o ut a noth er v ase a s h e co lla p se d t o t he � oor.
D ad g ra b bed th e ri� e a nd tu rn ed t o S um mer a nd m e. “ Are y ou g uys o kay ?”
I lo oked to S u m m er, w ho w as p ale fr o m fr ig h t b u t r e co vering . “I’m g o od ,”
s h e s aid .
Su ki p lu ck ed A rth ur’s d en tu re s o ff the � oor a nd s tu ck them in h is m ou th .
 e sig h t o f th e li t tle o ra n gu ta n in th e tu xed o tr ig gere d so m eth ing in my
min d. I w as s udden ly s tr u ck by a � ash o f u nd ersta n ding . “Oh w ow ,” I said .
“L ook o ut!” D ad cried .
A K om od o d ra g o n , pro b ab ly fr ig h te ne d b y th e g u ns hot, scu rr ie d th ro u gh
th e d oor w it h a co te rie o f b u tle rs, co oks, and o th er se rv ant s in pu rsu it . Su ki
sp it o u t A rth ur’s d en tu re s an d scr am ble d u p th e � re p la ce m an te l in te rro r.
A noth er p ain tin g t o p ple d o ff t h e w all a n d t o re , w hile t h e d ra g o n kno cked o ver
tw o m ore v ase s a s it ra n a bou t th e r oom .
“O h w ow , w hat? ” S um mer a sk ed m e. “ Lik e ‘ O h w ow , t his p la ce is cr azy ’? ”
“ N o,” I said . “ I m ea n , it is , but . . . I wasn ’t t hink ing abou t t hat.”
“  en w hat w ere y ou th in kin g?”
“ I j u st r ea li z e d w ho’s b een s w im ming wit h t he d olp h ins .”

TH E S W IM MER
W hile J.J ., D ad, S um mer, and I w ere at F lo ra H an co ck’s m ans io n,
C hie f H oen ek ker w as ca lli n g h is co ntact s a t t he S ta te D ep artm ent ’s D ip lo m atic
S ecu rit y S ervice . It t u rn ed o u t t h e D SS co uld cl aim ju ris d ictio n o ver a n yth ing
t h at m ig h t im pact U S r e la tio n s w it h a fo re ig n p ow er— an d s ince C hina w as a
fo re ig n p ow er, arre stin g L i P in g’s th ie f co unt ed .  eir so u th ern branch w as
h ap py to co me ab oard th e in vestig atio n, esp eci ally w hen th ey re a li z e d th ey
co uld m ak e M oll y O ’M alle y lo ok ba d i n th e b arg ain. Appare nt ly , sh e’d r ile d u p
so m e D SS a gen ts o n a p re vio us ca se a few y ea rs b efo re .
S o th at n ig h t, w hile th e T V n ew s co ntin ued m is ta k en ly re p orting th at th e
F B I h ad cl ose d th e L i P in g ca se , Ja m es V an Am bu rg h and ed over all h is
e vid en ce to th e D SS , which qu ick ly w en t to w ork . W it h in hou rs, th ey ’d
a rre ste d Ju an V ela sq u ez a n d th e th re e o th er m en who’d sw it ch ed th e tr a ile rs
a n d s to le n t h e p an da.  re a te n ed w it h lo ng s e nt ence s in a f e d era l p eni te nt ia ry ,
e a ch co ugh ed u p in crim in atin g e vi dence on W alt e r O gilv y.
A t 7 :0 0 a .m . th e n ext morn in g, w hen W alt e r O gilv y w alk ed int o h is o ffi ce s
at N au tilu s h ea d qu arte rs in New Y o rk C it y , t he D SS w as w ait in g f or h im .
By t h e t im e I g o t u p fo r s ch ool, th e s to ry w as o u t. E very ne ws ch anne l w as
b re a th le ssly r e p ortin g h ow th e F B I h ad m ad e a h uge b lu n der, w hile th e D SS ,
w ork in g w it h Fun Ju n gle ’s Secu rit y D iv is io n, had tr a ck ed dow n th e re a l
crim in al. It w ou ld h av e b een a m assiv e sto ry sim ply b eca use o f L i P ing , bu t
Walt e r O gilvy h ad t h ro w n a n h one st- to -g o d t a n tr u m a s h e w as b eing a rre ste d .
H e’d bro ken dow n ev en w orse th an Ja m es Van Am bu rg had , so bbi ng

un co ntr o lla b ly , beg gin g not to go to ja il, claim ing he’d been fr a m ed by
ev ery o n e fr o m h is ex- wif e to in te rna tio na l te rro ris ts . A d is g ru nt le d N au tilu s
em plo yee h ad r e co rd ed t h e w hole t h ing a n d p oste d it o nl ine .  e e m ba rra ssing
f o ota g e h ad tr e n ded li k e cra zy ; by n oon, th ere w ere o ver six m illi o n vie w s o n
th e I n te rn et, an d O gilvy h ad q u ick ly g o ne f r o m b eing a r e sp ect ed bu sine ssm an
to a n atio n al l au gh in gsto ck .
Not a sin gle n ew s sto ry m en tio n ed m e, how ev er, ex ce pt to sa y th at o ne o f
th e crim in als in vo lv ed h ad accid ent ally k n ock ed an in noce nt b oy in to th e
pola r b ea r e xh ib it d u rin g a n a tte m pt t o � ee F unJ ung le S ecu rit y t h e d ay be fo re ,
a n d su bse q u en tly ru in ed a p ara d e. Pete  wack er p ro m ptly a n no unce d th at
th e P ola r P avil io n w ou ld b e te m pora rily cl ose d to ins ta ll b ette r s a fe ty r a ili ng s,
a n d w en t on to sa y th at th e ch ao s at th e p ara d e h ad all be en part of a
F un Ju n gle s tin g o pera tio n to ca tc h t he cr im ina l. “ Our g uests w ere s o i m pre sse d
b y th e sp ecta cle o f o u r la w en fo rce ment ag ent s in act io n, ” h e ad ded , “th at
F un Ju n gle is co nsid erin g ad din g a perm an ent stu nt -s h ow ele m ent to th e
para d e in co min g w eek s.”
I w as g iv en m an y r e a so n s th at m y na me co uld n’t be r e v ea le d a s p art o f th e
in vestig atio n , fr o m p ro te ctin g m y sa fe ty to fe a r th at m y inv olv em ent w ou ld
h arm th e cr ed ib ili t y o f th e g o vern m ent ’s ca se a g ains t W alt e r O gilv y. H ow ev er,
M om a n d D ad s a id t h at it w as pr oba bly be cause e v ery o ne w as e m ba rra sse d t o
a d m it th at a th ir te en -y ea r-o ld b oy h ad cr ack ed t he ca se w hen no one els e h ad .
It w as a nnoyin g, b ut I h ad a noth er m yste ry t o s olv e t hat d ay a s i t w as.
I w ait e d u n til lu n ch tim e, th en ap pro ach ed th e p erp etr a to r in th e sch ool
ca fe te ria . “ It w as y ou , w asn ’t it? ” I a sk ed .
X avie r G on za le z l ooked u p f ro m his l u n ch , sta rtle d . “ Was w hat m e?”
“  e p erso n w ho l ost h is b ath in g s u it i n t he d olp h in t an k.”
“ Y o u’r e jo kin g, rig h t? ” X avie r a sk ed , bu t i t w as o b vio u s h e h ad a s e cr et. H e’d
t u rn ed b rig h t r ed a nd h is v oice had g one up t w o o ctav es. P lu s, h e w as a terribl e
acto r. I f I h ad n’t b een co nvin ced h e w as t he cu lp rit be fo re , t his p ro ved it.
N o o n e e ls e w as a t t h e lu n ch t a b le w it h u s. I h ad n’t w ant ed t o a ccu se X av ie r
in fr o n t o f a ll o f th em . D ash a n d E th an w ere n ’t e v en at sch ool—t hey h ad a
tr a ck a n d � eld to u rn am en t in A ustin—a nd S u m mer h ad k ep t V io le t a w ay b y
su ggestin g th ey e at o uts id e.

I u n w ra p ped m y b ro w n b ag lu n ch . Turk ey a nd ch ed dar o n whea t br ea d .
X avie r h ad a tu n a � sh sa n dw ich . N ow th at I th ou gh t a b ou t it , X av ie r a lm ost
a lw ay s h ad a tu na � sh s an dw ich .
“Y este rd ay a t lu n ch ,” I e xp la in ed , “w hen I w as te lli ng e v ery o ne a bo ut th e
dolp h in s, I o n ly s a id t h at t h ey ’d b een pu lli ng p eo p le ’s ba th ing s u it s d ow n. But
th en yo u s a id t h e d olp h in s h ad b een st e a li n g b ath in g s u it s . W hich y o u w ou ld n’t
h av e k now n u nle ss y ou rs h ad b een s to le n. ”
“ at’s n ot tr u e!” X avie r sa id d efe ns iv ely . “Y o u d e� ni te ly sa id th e d olp h ins
h ad b een s te a li n g s uit s . I know it. ”
“I’m p re tt y s u re I d id n’t ,” I t o ld h im . “A nd t h en, th ere ’s a ls o t h e b ath ing s u it
it s e lf . It w as a F un Ju n gle s h ark a tta ck s u it . A lm ost e v ery p ie ce o f cl oth ing y o u
ow n is Fun Ju n gle m erch an dis e .”
X avie r re � exiv ely lo oked dow n at his T-s h ir t. As usu al, i t w as fr o m
F un Ju n gle . Tod ay it re a d : “C arni vo re C an yo n Is A w eso m e—a nd I’m N ot
L io n .”
“ I’l l b et l ots o f p eo p le h av e th at b ath ing suit ,” h e s aid .
 at w as p ro b ab ly tr u e, no m atte r h ow ta ck y th e s u it w as. A lt h ou gh th ere
w as an oth er p ie ce o f evid en ce ag ains t X av ie r:  e ba th ing su it h ad be en a
men ’s m ed iu m , which h ad le d m e to b eli e v e a k id co uld n’t h av e w orn it ,
e sp ecia lly a sh ort k id li k e X avie r. B ut X av ie r w as o verw eig h t a n d h ad a m uch
big ger w ais tli n e th an h e sh ou ld h av e. I’d re a li z e d th at w hen lo oking a t F lo ra ’s
t u xed o-w ea rin g o ra n gu ta n . X avie r’s o w n t u x h ad n’t � t r ig h t; th e a rm s a nd le g s
h ad b een w ay to o lo n g, w hich m ea n t h e’d n eed ed to re nt a m en ’s tu x so th e
pan ts w ou ld � t o ver h is b elly . It fo llo w ed , th en, th at h e w ou ld w ea r a m en ’s
b ath in g s uit a s w ell.
O nly , I d id n’t fe e l li k e b rin gin g th is u p in fr o nt o f h im . H e w as se ns it iv e
en ou gh a bou t h is w eig h t a s it w as.
I n a d dit io n t o t h e t u n a � sh s a n dw ich in his lu n ch , he a ls o h ad a s o d a, a bi g
bag o f ch ip s, a h om em ad e cu pca ke, and tw o ca nd y b ag s. N ot ex act ly th e
hea lt h ie st l u n ch in th e w orld .
“ ere a re ca mera s a ll a ro u n d th e d olp h in ta n ks,” I sa id . “F unJ ung le h as
fo ota g e o f y ou w it h th e d olp h in s.”
 is w as a li e .  ere w ere ca mera s, bu t no o ne h ad go ne th ro u gh th e
fo ota g e y et. I w as j u st tr yin g to get X av ie r t o a dm it t o t he cr im e.

It w ork ed . X avie r’s e y es w en t w id e in horro r. “F oota g e o f m e a n d V io le t? ”
h e g asp ed .
 at p art w as n ew s t o m e: I h ad n’t e x p ect ed V io le t t o b e inv olv ed . L uck ily ,
I w as m uch b ette r a t h id in g m y su rp ris e th an X av ie r h ad b een. “Y es, V io le t
to o,” I said .
X avie r slu m ped o ver th e ta b le , no lo ng er b oth ering to fe ig n inno cence .
“H ow m uch trou ble a re w e in ?”
“ I d on’t k n ow .”  at w as t h e t r u th . I h ad n’t t o ld a n yo ne bu t S u m mer a bo ut
m y su sp icio ns y et. I d id n’t w an t X av ie r to g et int o tr o u bl e, alt h ou gh I d id n’t
k n ow h ow w ell I co uld k eep h is inv olv em ent a s e cr et. So one r o r la te r, so m eo ne
p ro b ab ly w as g o in g to � n d th at fo ota g e o f h im . “It m ig h t n ot b e th at m uch
tr o u ble if w e ca n cl aim you w ere n ’t g oing in t here t o h arm the d olp h ins . . . . ”
“O f co urse w e w ere n ’t !” X avie r s a t u p a g ain, off end ed . “I w ou ld nev er h arm
a n a nim al.”
“I k now y ou w ou ld n’t . I ’m ju st s ay in g w e ne ed t o u nd ersta n d w hat y ou w ere
d oin g in t h ere .” I t o ok a b it e o f m y s a nd wich . “S o  .  . . w hat w ere y o u d oing in
t h ere ?”
“ T ry in g to be a s co ol a s y ou .”
I w ait e d fo r m ore , bu t X avie r d id n’t e la b ora te . In ste a d , he k ep t h is e y es o n
h is f ood , a s th ou gh a fr a id to look a t m e.
“ W hat d o y ou m ea n ?” I a sk ed .
“Y o u r li f e is so a w eso m e. Yo u r m om ’s a fa m ou s bi olo gis t a nd y o u r fa th er’s
t h is a m azin g p h oto gra p h er a n d y o u g o t t o li v e in A fr ica a s a k id a n d n ow y o u
get to li v e a t F un Ju n gle , th e m ost incr ed ibl e p la ce o n ea rth , an d y o u’r e d ating
S u m mer M cC ra ck en , an d y o u g et to d o all th is su per co ol stu ff li k e g o ing
b eh in d th e sce nes o f th e e xh ib it s a nd p etting th e rh ino s a nd sw im ming w it h
th e d olp h in s w hen ev er y o u w an t. I n ev er g et t o d o a ny th ing li k e t h at. M y li f e
s tin ks.”
 is ca ugh t m e b y su rp ris e . I h ad n ev er co nsid ere d th at a ny one m ig h t be
je a lo u s o f m y li f e . A ft e r a ll, I h ad s p ent m y � rst t e n yea rs li v ing in a t e nt ca mp
in A fr ica w it h a h on ey b u ck et in ste a d o f a t o ile t. A nd no w I li v ed in a m obi le
h om e t h at m y fa m ily d id n’t e v en o w n. My p are nt s w ere n ’t r ich ; w e d id n’t h av e
a n ic e ca r o r fa n cy fu rn it u re , and w hen we a te o u t, it w as a lm ost a lw ay s a t
F un Ju n gle , w hich w as u su ally lo u sy . Yes, I g o t to d o so m e co ol th ing s w it h

an im als , bu t th at w as s im ply w hat w as a v aila b le to m e: I h ad r a re ly be en abl e
to d o m an y o f t h e t h in gs o th er k id s m y a g e d id , li k e g o t o t h e m ovie s o r p la y
m in ia tu re g o lf o r h an g o u t a t t h e m all. I’d ne ver e v en had a f r ie nd m y o w n ag e
u n til I ’d m et X avie r, an d u n til r e ce nt ly , L arg e M arg e h ad b een on a cr usa d e t o
s e n d m e t o ju ven ile h all. P lu s, I s e e m ed t o h av e a lo t o f n ea r-d ea th e x p erie nce s.
M ost k id s d id n’t g et th ro w n in to p ola r b ea r e x h ibi ts . O r th re a te ne d b y g ro w n
m en d re sse d a s p an das.
I f a n yth in g, I h ad a lw ay s b een a b it je a lo u s o f m y fe llo w stu dent s, w ho’d
g o tte n to hav e m uch m ore n orm al l iv es t han m e.
B ut ou t of ev ery th in g X avie r h ad sa id , th ere w as one th ing th at r e a lly
s ta rtle d m e.
“ Y o u k now S um mer a nd I a re d ating ?” I a sk ed .
“O f co urse .” X avie r grin ned pro u dly . “Y o u’r e not th e onl y one w it h
d ete ctiv e s kills .”
“ H ow ’d y ou � gu re it o ut? ”
“A b u n ch o f w ay s. I s e e h ow y o u t w o lo ok a t e a ch o th er, an d h ow y o u h old
h an ds w hen y o u d on’t th in k a n yo ne ’s w atch ing . A nd y o u’v e b een sp end ing a
lo t m ore tim e w it h h er l ate ly in ste a d o f m e.”
“ O h. D oes a nyo n e e ls e k now ?”
“ I d on’t th in k s o. I hav en ’t s aid a nyth ing .”
I p oked a t m y sa n dw ich , fe eli n g a li t tle a w kw ard . “S o rr y if I h av en ’t be en
sp en din g a s m uch tim e w it h y ou . . . . ”
“I g et it . If S u m mer M cC ra ck en wan te d m e to b e h er b oyfr ie nd , I’d h av e
d it ch ed y o u in a se co nd. I m ea n , sh e’s rich a nd b ea u tif u l a nd co ol a nd h er
fa th er o w ns F un Ju n gle . Pre tty m uch th e p erfe ct g ir l.” X av ie r h ung h is h ea d
a g ain . “It’s n ot fa ir . Sh e li k es y o u an d V io le t li k es y o u .  e tw o m ost p op u la r
g ir ls a t s ch ool.”
“ V io le t d oesn ’t li k e m e th at w ay. Sh e o nl y li k es m e a s a fr ie nd .  e sa m e
way s he l ik es y ou a s a frie n d.”
“ N o, sh e still li k es yo u th e o th er w ay.  e h ea d ch eerle a d er. I th ou gh t
m ay b e s h e’d th in k u s s n ea k in g in to s w im w it h th e d olp h ins w ou ld be a d ate .
L ik e, th e co ole st d ate ev er. B ut sh e o n ly ca me fo r th e d olp h ins , not m e. A nd
th en th e w hole th in g tu rn ed in to a d is a ste r.”
“ B eca use th e d olp h in s s to le y ou r s uit ? ”

“Y es.” X avie r’s f ace tu rn ed b rig h t r e d a gain.
“ W hat h ap pen ed ?”
X avie r lo oked a ro u n d th e ca fe te ria to se e if a ny one w as li s te ni ng . N o o ne
w as, bu t h e lo w ere d h is v o ice to a w his p er a ny how ju st to b e s a fe . “W ell, yo u
an d S u m mer g et t o s w im w it h t h e d olp h ins a ll t h e t im e, and I w asn ’t t h e o nl y
on e w ho w as je a lo u s o f y o u . V io le t w as t o o. W e w ere t a lk ing a bo ut it o ne d ay
a ft e r sch ool, an d I to ld h er I th ou gh t I k n ew h ow to sn ea k int o th e d olp h in
t a n k s o w e co uld d o it t o o. I w asn ’t r e a lly s a y ing w e s h ou ld a ct ually d o it , ju st
th at it c o u ld b e d on e. B ut th en V io le t g o t a ll e x ci te d a n d s a id s h e’d lo ve to g o
w it h m e .  . . an d w hen th e h ea d ch eerle a d er sa y s sh e w an ts to d o so m eth ing
w it h y ou , e ven if it’s k in d o f il le g al, y ou d on’t s ay no .”
“ S o h ow ’d y ou d o it? ”
“It w asn ’t th at h ard . B oth o f u s h av e a n nu al p asse s to F unJ ung le . So I h ad
m y o ld er b ro th er d ro p u s o ff th ere l ast S atu rd ay, a nd t hen, w hen t he t im e ca me
fo r th e p ark to cl ose , Vio le t and I h id ba ck in th e bu sh es aro u nd Sh ark
E nco un te r.”
“ Y o u r b ro th er d id n’t th in k it w as w eir d y ou w ere s ta y ing aft e r p ark h ou rs?”
“ N o, he k n ew w hat w e w ere u p to . A nd h e w as to ta lly co ol w it h it . I w as
sp en din g m y S atu rd ay n ig h t a lo ne w it h V io le t G ra ce ! S o h e s a id h e’d g iv e u s a
co uple h ou rs a ft e r t h e p ark cl ose d a nd t h en co me b ack fo r u s. H e e v en li e d t o
m y p are n ts a nd s aid h e w as ta kin g m e t o t he m ovie s.”
“ O h.”  is w as a n oth er w ay in w hich m y li f e w asn ’t a s co ol a s o th er k id s’: I
did n’t h av e a n o ld er b ro th er w ho’d lo ok o u t f o r m e li k e t h at. O r a ny s ibl ing s a t
all. “S o , yo u ju st la id lo w u n til th e co ast w as cl ea r an d th en go t int o th e
dolp h in ta nk?”
“ P re tty m uch . W e h ad to w ait li k e h alf an hou r aft e r cl osing tim e fo r
se cu rit y t o s w eep t h e p ark , bu t t h ey w ere n ’t m uch o f a n is su e. M arg e ca me b y,
b u t sh e w asn ’t re a lly lo okin g fo r tr e sp asse rs. Sh e w as ju st sw ing ing her
� ash li g h t aro u n d li k e it w as a g u n an d h um ming th e th em e fr o m M issi o n :
Im possi b le . Lik e sh e w as p re te n din g to b e a sp y o r so m eth ing . O nce sh e w as
g o n e, w e ch an ged in to o ur b ath ing suit s a nd snuck int o t he t an k.”
 is w as ju st w hat I ’d o b se rv ed a bo ut D olp h in Advent ure t w o d ay s be fo re :
It w as th e o n e e xh ib it a t F un Ju n gle w here th e a ni m als w ere o u t in th e o p en,

wit h ou t an y fe n ce s or w alls or m oats . Anyo ne w ho w as th e sli g h te st bi t
dete rm in ed co uld e asily g et in to i t. “ And no one saw y ou ?”
“ I g u ess th e ca mera s d id . But w e d id n’t se e a ny one e ls e a ro u nd . W e w ere
tr y in g to b e q u ie t, th ou gh . W e d id n’t re a lly sa y m uch . W e o n ly g o t in an d
sw am . I t w as p re tty a m azin g, rig ht u p u ntil . . . ” X av ie r t ra ile d o ff.
“W hat h ap pen ed ?”
“ W ell, I w an te d t o m ak e s u re t h e d olp h ins ca me t o u s.  at w as t h e w hole
p oin t, rig h t? W it h ou t d olp h in s, it w ou ld ju st be li k e any oth er p ool. I’d
w atch ed t h e t r a in ers a lo t, an d I ’d n otice d h ow t h ey w ere a lw ay s r e w ard ing t h e
dolp h in s w it h f ood .”
I g la n ce d a t X avie r’s s a n dw ich , un dersta n ding . “S o y o u br ou gh t a lo ng s o m e
�sh o f y ou r o wn.”
“ R ig h t. I rea lly w an te d to brin g s om eth ing bi gger, l ik e a salm on, bu t w hen I
w en t t o t h e s u perm ark et t o g et o ne , it w as e x p ens iv e, and I d id n’t k no w h ow t o
s n ea k it in to t h e p ark a n yh ow . So I t h ou gh t, m ay be t u na w ou ld w ork ins te a d .
It’s � sh , rig h t? A nd w e h ad a d oze n ca ns a t o u r h ou se . M y m om w ou ld n’t m is s
o n e. S o I p ut s om e in th e p ock ets o f m y s w im su it t o l u re t he d olp h ins over.”
“ A nd th at w ork ed ?”
“ Y ea h . It w ork ed to o w ell .  e d olp h in s w ere a ll n osin g a ro u nd m y cr otch
th e w hole tim e w e w ere in th e w ate r.  ey w ere tr y ing to g et a t th e tu na , bu t
th ey d id n’t k now h ow . S o th ey k ep t ni pping at m e a nd t ugging at m y s uit .”
I co nsid ere d t h is f r o m t h e d olp h in s’ p ersp ect iv e. A s O li v ia s a id , th e t r a ine rs
o ft e n g av e t h em p u zzle s t o s o lv e t h at inv olv ed fo od : It w ou ld b e p la ce d ins id e
so m eth in g li k e a p la stic tu b o r a b lo ck o f ice a n d t h ey ’d h av e t o d ed u ce h ow t o
g et it o u t.  ey p ro b ab ly w ou ld h av e co nsid ere d t h e t u na in Xav ie r’s p ock ets a s
so m eth in g s im ila r: a p ro b le m t h ey h ad t o s o lv e, ra th er t h an a y o u ng bo y w ho’d
m is ta k en ly p u t fo od in h is p an ts . “A nd e v ent ually , one o f th em ju st y ank ed
y o u r s uit o ff?”
“ Y es.” I h ad n’t th ou gh t X avie r co uld tu rn any m ore re d th an b efo re , bu t
now h e d id . It s e em ed a s t h ou gh e v ery d ro p o f bl ood in his b od y h ad g o ne t o
h is fa ce . “I w as tr y in g to g et th e tu na o u t fo r th em , bu t th ey co uld n’t w ait .
 ey w ere tu ggin g a t m y su it so m uch , th ey a ct ually y an ked m e u nd er a fe w
tim es. F in ally , th e s tr in g h old in g it on ca me u nd one and s uddenl y, I w as t ota lly
n ak ed . I n f ro n t o f V io le t.”

“D id s he n otice ?”
“ O h y ea h . R ig h t a w ay.  e su it w as w hit e , so it w as th e br ig h te st th ing in
t h e t a n k, an d s h e co uld s e e it w hen th e d olp h in sw am o ff w it h it . Sh e w as li k e,
‘D id th at d olp h in ju st ste a l y o u r su it ? ’ a nd I w as li k e, ‘M ay be ,’ a nd th en sh e
sta rte d la u gh in g s o h yste rica lly , sh e a ct ually h ad to g et o u t o f th e w ate r s o s h e
did n’t d ro w n.”
I th ou gh t o f V io le t la u gh in g so h ard a t lu n ch th e d ay b efo re , w hen th at
so d a h ad co me o u t h er n ose . I h ad m ent io ne d t h at t h e d olp h ins w ere p ant sing
p eo p le , w hich m ust h av e r eviv ed m em orie s o f h er ni gh t w it h X av ie r.
“ I’m n ot u pse t th at sh e la u gh ed ,” X av ie r sa id . “If it h ad h ap p ene d to
s o m eo n e els e , I p ro b ab ly w ou ld h av e la u gh ed to o. And sh e w as re a lly co ol
ab ou t th e w hole th in g. Sh e g o t m y to w el a nd m y d ry cl oth es fo r m e a nd sh e
gav e m e t im e t o g et d re sse d , bu t s till  .  . .  e w hole d yna mic of e v ery th ing h ad
ch an ged . I w asn ’t th is co ol gu y w ho’d go tte n her int o th e dolp h in ta nk
a n ym ore . I w as a scr ew -u p w ho lo st h is ba th ing su it a nd w ou nd u p to ta lly
n ak ed in fro n t o f h er.”
I s ig h ed . “ Yea h , I know w hat th at’s l ik e.”
“ N o, y ou d on’t .”
“ I d o. Beca use o f y o u !  e d olp h in st o le m y b ath in g su it o n S u n day b eca u se
h e’d le a rn ed h ow to d o it fr o m yo u .” X avie r m ig ht n ot h ave se t o u t to te a ch the
d olp h in s to do th is, bu t it m ad e se n se th at th ey’d le a rn ed it an yho w.  ey’d
p er fo rm ed a n a ctiv it y : st e a li n g th e b athi ng su it —a nd the re ha d b een a re w ard :
tu n a � sh . S o t hey’d t rie d i t a ga in .
“It w asn ’t th e sa m e,” X avie r p oint ed o u t. “Y o u h ad it h ap pen in fr o nt o f
yo u r g ir lf r ie n d. I h ad it h ap pen in fr o nt o f a g ir l I li k e—a nd s h e’s ne ver g o ing
t o b e in te re ste d in m e n ow .”
H e lo oked so m is e ra b le , I d ecid ed to te ll h im th e w hole sto ry a bo ut m y
exp erie n ce . “I k n ow S u m mer sa id th ere w asn ’t a ny one e ls e th ere w hen I g o t
p an ts e d , b ut th ere w as. O ne o f th e t ra ine rs.”
“ O h,” X avie r s aid , th en a dded , “ Is s he cu te ?”
“ Y es. And yo u rs h ap pen ed at n ig h t, when Vio le t co uld n’t se e any th ing .
Min e h ap pen ed in bro ad d ay li g h t.”
X avie r la u gh ed , desp it e h im se lf .  en he tr ie d to h id e it . “B ut y o u w ere in
t h e ta nk, rig ht? S o th ey s till co uld n’t s ee t hat m uch .”

“O h, th ey sa w ev er y th in g . Sn ick ers th re w m e in to th e a ir . C le a r o u t o f th e
w ate r .”
“ H e d id ?” X avie r co uld n’t k eep th e la u gh te r in an ym ore . H e la u gh ed so
h ard , h e s ta rte d co ugh in g o n h is t una �sh .
I d id n’t m in d, th ou gh . It w as e m ba rr a ssing , bu t ch eering h im u p w as w orth
it . I even lau gh ed a b it m yse lf . “ I m ust’v e g one lik e t en f eet u p. B uck na ked .”
“ I g uess y ou r l if e ’s n ot s o p erfe ct a ft e r a ll.” X av ie r ch ortle d .
V io le t an d Su m mer su dden ly sa t be sid e u s. “W hat’s so fu nny ?” V io le t
a sk ed .
X avie r g av e m e a co nsp ir a to ria l g la n ce , th en an sw ere d , “N oth ing . Ted dy
w as j u st m ak in g a fun ny f ace .”
“ I th ou gh t y ou g uys w ere e atin g o uts id e t od ay,” I said .
“W e w ere ,” S u m mer t o ld m e. “B ut it ’s cra zy h ot o u t t h ere . L ik e a s a u n a. W e
co uld n’t ta k e it an ym ore .” S h e lo oked at m e. “D id yo u � nd o u t w hat yo u
w an te d to know ?”
“ Y es,” I rep li e d .
“W hat’s e very o n e b ein g s o to p s ecr et a bou t? ” V io le t a sk ed .
“T ed dy � gu re d o ut it w as u s in th e d olp h in t an k,” X av ie r s aid .
V io le t re a cte d in su rp ris e , bu t th en nod ded kno wing ly . “I to ld yo u h e
w ou ld ,” s he s aid .
“H old on ,” Su m mer sa id . “ Both of yo u d id it ? ” Sh e lo oked to m e. “I
th ou gh t y ou s aid it w as o nly X avi er.”
“ I d id n’t k n ow V io le t w as th ere to o,” I a d m it te d . “U nt il X av ie r ra tte d h er
o u t.”
V io le t w heele d on X avie r. “Y o u li t tle �nk !” sh e cr ie d , alt h ou gh sh e
ob vio usly w asn ’t th at u pse t a t h im .
Xavie r p oin te d at m e accu sin gly . “H e tr ick ed m e int o it ! I th ou gh t h e
alr e a d y k new !”
V io le t lo o ked b ack t o m e a n d a sk ed t h e s a m e q u estio n Xav ie r h ad . “A re w e
in tr ou ble ?”
“ I don’t kn ow ,” I sa id , th en tu rne d to Su m mer. “ ey w ere n ’t doing
a n yth in g m ali cio us. M ay b e th ere ’s a w ay t o s qu are t hing s w it h y ou r d ad ?”
“ I’l l s ee w hat I ca n d o,” S um mer t old t hem .

Vio le t re tu rn ed h er a tte n tio n to X av ie r a nd sw atte d h im p la y fu lly . “I ca n’t
b eli e v e y ou to ld o n m e!”
“ I did n’t m ea n to !” X avie r ra is e d his hand s in su rre nd er, acci dent ally
k n ock in g o ver h is s od a. H e s natch ed it u p q uick ly , bu t i t h ad a lr e a d y l eft a spot
o n h is sh ir t. “L ook w hat y o u m ad e m e d o,” h e te a se d . N ow th at V io le t w as
a ro u n d a n d b ein g fr ie n dly w it h h im —a nd p ossibl y b eca use h e’d h ad a g o od
la u gh at m y exp en se — he d id n’t se em ne arly as d ow n o n him se lf as h e h ad
b efo re . H e h ea d ed a cr oss th e ca fe te ria t o g et s om e na pkins .
“D id X avie r e xp la in e v ery th in g t o y o u ?” V io le t a sk ed m e, still a b it n erv o u s.
“ W e w ere n ’t tr y in g to ca use an y tr o u bl e. W e w ere ju st je a lo u s o f y o u g u ys
b eca use y ou g et to do s tu ff lik e th at a ll t he t im e.”
“ Y ea h , h e e xp la in ed it, ” I said .
“If y o u w an te d to g o in w it h th e d olp h ins li k e th at, w hy d id n’t y o u ju st
a sk ?” S um mer s aid .
“W e d id n’t w an t to take a dvan ta g e o f y ou r f rie nd sh ip ,” V io le t r ep li e d .
“It’s n o b ig d ea l,” S um mer s aid . “ I’d be hap py t o a rr a n ge i t.”
“ R ea lly ?  at’d b e a m azin g!” V io le t e x cl aim ed —a nd th en so u re d s u ddenl y,
n oticin g s om eth in g a cr oss th e r oom . “ Oh n o.”
 e B ark sd ale tw in s w ere m ak in g a b eeli ne fo r X av ie r. Poor X av ie r d id n’t
s e e th em co min g, as h e w as b u sily m op ping th e s o d a o ff h is s h ir t.  e r e st o f
th e stu den t b od y n otice d th em , th ou gh . And yet, while ev ery o ne re a li z e d
T im Jim w as lo okin g to ca use tr o u bl e fo r X av ie r, no o ne m ad e a m ove to h elp
h im .
“ ose je rk s,” S u m mer m utte re d . “  e m om ent D ash a n d E th an a re n ’t h ere
to p ro te ct X avie r, th ey g o rig ht a ft e r h im .”
“ A nd n o o ne e ls e h ere is to ugh e nou gh t o s to p t hem ,” V io le t o bs erv ed .
A s s h e s a id th is , th ou gh , an id ea ca me to m e. “M ay be w e d on’t h av e to be
to u gh to sto p th e b ully in g.”
“ W hat a re y ou ta lk in g a bou t? ” S um mer a sk ed .
So I to ld th em w hat I h ad in m in d.
A cr oss th e ro om , T im Jim g ra b bed X av ie r fr o m be hind . “W hat h ap pene d,
T ubbo?” o n e o f th em a sk ed . “Y o u o f a ll p eo p le s h ou ld k no w th e fo od g o es in
y o u r m ou th , n ot o n y ou r s hir t.”

e o th er o n e la u gh ed a n d ji g gle d X av ie r so h is b elly w obbl ed in fr o nt o f
th e e ntir e s ch ool. “ Look h ow fat y ou a re !” h e cr ow ed . “ It’s d is g u sting !”
“ L ea v e m e a lo n e, g uys,” X avie r p le a d ed . “ I’v e ne ver d one anyth ing to y ou .”
“ Y o u e xis t,” T im Jim said . “  at’s ba d e no ugh .”
 ey w ere so b u sy ta u n tin g X av ie r, th ey d id n’t se e V io le t and S u m mer
sn ea k in g u p o n th em .  ey ju st k ep t p oking a n d p ro d ding X av ie r a nd sa y ing
m ea n th in gs to him .
And th en , Su m mer an d V io le t yan ked th e tw ins ’ sh orts d ow n to th eir
a n kle s in fr o n t o f t h e e n tir e ca fe te ria . B oth bo ys w ere o nl y w ea ring jo ck str a p s,
s o e very o n e h ad a g re a t vie w o f th eir ba re bo tto m s.
 e w hole r oom burst in to l au gh te r.
A s I ’d r e ce ntly le a rn ed , th ere ’s n oth ing a s e m ba rr a ssing a s lo sing y o u r p ant s
in p ubli c.
T im Jim p ale d an d in sta n tly fo rg o t ab ou t X av ie r.  ey yan ked u p th eir
s h orts a nd s pu n a ro u n d, r ea d y to p u m mel w hoev er h ad p ra n ked t hem .
W hen th ey re a li z e d it w as th e tw o m ost p op u la r g ir ls in sch ool, th ou gh ,
th ey g re w e v en m ore e m barra sse d . W hich w as w hat I ’d b een co unt ing o n. To
be p an ts e d b y a g u y w ou ld h av e be en cause fo r re ta li a tio n. But to be p ant se d
b y tw o g ir ls th ey p ro b ab ly h ad c ru sh es o n was a m ajo r b lo w to th eir e g o s. It
w asn ’t m ere ly h um ili a tin g; it w as a ls o co n� rm atio n th at t h e g ir ls d id n’t r e sp ect
th em .
“ at’s w hat h ap pen s w hen y o u p ick o n kid s w ho a re sm alle r th an yo u ,”
S u m mer to ld th em .
“S o l ea v e X avie r a nd e very o n e e ls e a lo ne ,” V io le t d ecl are d .
 e e n tir e ca fe te ria w hoop ed w it h a g re em ent a n d bu rst int o a p pla u se . E ven
th e te a ch ers w ho w ere m on it o rin g o u r b eh av io r se em ed p le a se d b y w hat h ad
h ap pen ed .
T im Jim �ed f ro m th e ca fe te ria .
S u m mer a n d V io le t to ok X avie r’s a rm s a n d r a is e d th em a bo ve h is h ea d , as
th ou gh h e w as k in g o f th e s ch ool.
E very o n e ch eere d f or th em .
I k n ew th at w ou ld n’t b e th e end o f T im Jim .  e tw ins w ou ld ce rta inl y
ca use lo ts m ore p ro b le m s fo r u s. But fo r th e � rst tim e, I re a li z e d th ere w ere

oth er w ay s to h an dle b u lli e s w it h ou t n eed ing p ro te ct io n li k e D ash a nd E th an
— or u sin g f orce to �gh t b ack .
Besid es, now t h at M arg e O ’M alle y w asn ’t g o ing t o b e a ny m ore t r o u bl e fo r
m e, I need ed s om e n ew ta rg ets to pla y p ra n ks o n.

Epilo g ue
TH E D EB U T
The d ay L i P in g fi nally w en t o n e xh ib it , th e cr ow ds a t F unJ ung le w ere
th e b ig gest th e p ark h ad e ver e xp erie nce d.
 e s to ry o f L i P in g’s k id n ap pin g, th e F B I’s b otc h in g o f t h e ca se , th e a rre st
o f W alt e r O gilvy , an d t h e p an da’s t r iu m ph ant d eli v ery t o F unJ ung le h ad be en a
bon an za o f fr e e p u bli city . “P an da-m oni um ” w as h ea d li ne n ew s all o ver th e
w orld , w hich in sta n tly m ad e L i P ing t h e m ost f a m ou s p an da o n ea rth . (W alt e r
O gilvy s till h ad n’t g o n e t o t r ia l y et, bu t t h e p u bli c had a lr e a d y d eci ded h e w as
g u ilt y . H e w as u niv ersa lly l oath ed a s t he j erk w ho h ad s to le n a pan da. E very o ne
w as b oyco ttin g h is b usin esse s, w hich were t an king as a resu lt .)
L i P in g’s � rst d ay o n d is p la y w as t h e F rid ay be fo re M em oria l D ay w eek end .
Aft e r b ein g d eli v ere d fr o m F lo ra H an co ck’s esta te , th e p an da h ad sp ent a
m on th in qu ara n tin e, a n d du rin g th at tim e, Pete  wack er an d th e P R
dep artm en t h ad w hip ped p an da fa n s e v ery w here int o a fr e nz y. A dvance tick et
sa le s fo r F un Ju n gle h ad so are d . Every h ote l w it h in th ir ty m ile s w as bo oked
so li d f o r t h e e n tir e s u m mer.  e T ex as le g is la tu re h ad g iv en se rio u s t h ou gh t t o
d ecl arin g L i P in g’s d eb u t a sta te h oli d ay.
It m ig h t a s w ell h av e b een . H alf m y cl ass ca lle d in sick s o t h ey co uld g o s e e
th e p an da. So d id a g o od n um ber o f t e a ch ers. A nd o u rs w asn ’t t h e o nl y s ch ool
w here th at h ap pen ed . M an y b u sine sse s re p orte d a se v ere la ck o f e m plo yees a s
w ell. E very o n e h ea d ed f o r F un Ju n gle —i f t h ey w ere n ’t a lr e a d y t h ere :  ou sa nd s
of p eo p le h ad ca mped o u t a t th e fr o nt g ate s  ursd ay ni gh t so th ey co uld be
th e � rst in li n e o n F rid ay. O nly h alf a n h ou r a ft e r F unJ ung le o p ene d, it br oke
it s a tte n dan ce reco rd .

When S u m mer a n d I � n ally a rriv ed a t t h e p ark a ft e r s ch ool, gu ests w ere s till
s tr e a m in g th ro u gh th e g ate s, ev en th ou gh it w as n ea rly a h un dre d d eg re es.
(C en tr a l T exa s w as exp erie n cin g re co rd h ea t, bu t J.J . wasn ’t co nce rne d.  e
hotte r it g ot, th e m ore s ev en -d olla r s od as h e’d s ell.)
S u m mer in sis te d w e g o d ir e ctl y to P and a P ala ce . In th e p ast, on a br oili ng
d ay li k e t h at, sh e w ou ld u su ally h av e d eto u re d int o t h e E m poriu m t o g ra b ice
cr ea m bars fo r us, bu t sin ce ou r dis cu ssio n, sh e’d sto p ped gra bbi ng fo od
w it h ou t p ay in g fo r it . (I h ad n ev er to ld h er ab ou t M arg e’s p la n to u se th e
“e vid en ce ” o f sh op li f t in g ag ain st h er; th e m ere th re a t o f ba d p u bl ici ty h ad
w ork ed w ell e n ou gh .) A nd if th ere h ad e v er be en a d ay to sk ip th e li ne s, th at
w as it . In th e h ea t, th e a ir -co ndit io ne d E m poriu m w as m obbe d. B ut S u m mer
b are ly n otice d. S he w as to o d ete rm ine d t o s ee L i P ing .
Desp it e o u r co nnectio ns, w e h ad n’t b een abl e to se e th e p an da w hile sh e
w as q uara n tin ed . E ven J .J. h ad n’t be en a ble t o.  e be st w e co uld d o w as w atch
h er o n a cl ose d -c ir cu it ca mera , bu t th at w asn ’t m uch be tte r th an p eo p le co uld
d o o n t h e I n te rn et. B ein g s o cl ose t o L i P ing f o r s o lo ng a n d no t g etting t o s e e
h er in p erso n h ad b een k in d o f t o rtu ro u s, so w e’d be en aw fu lly e x cit e d f o r t h is
d ay. A nd y et, w hile I ’d e xp ecte d lo ts o f p eo p le t o co me f o r t h e p and a’s d ebu t, I
had n’t e xp ecte d a h ord e l ik e th is .
“ P an da P ala ce is g o in g t o b e cra zy cr ow ded ,” I w arne d S u m mer. “M ay be w e
sh ou ld w ait u ntil a ft e r cl osin g to visit .”
“ N o w ay,” s he r ep li e d . “ I’v e w ait e d long eno ugh . W e’r e s eeing that p and a.”
I co uld n’t re a lly a rg u e fo r a n yth in g e ls e to d o in th e m ea n tim e. W e’d bo th
s e en e v ery e xh ib it a t F un Ju n gle a th ou sa nd tim es, an d w e co uld n’t g o sw im
w it h t h e d olp h in s. D olp h in A dvent ure h ad r e o p ene d t o t h e p u bli c—bu t it w as
b ooked s oli d f or th e n ext f ew m ont hs.
O nce S u m mer a n d I h ad d ete rm ine d h ow t h e d olp h ins h ad le a rne d t o s te a l
b ath in g su it s , th e tr a in ers h ad q u ick ly ta u gh t th e d olp h in s n ot to d o it , th en
re in fo rce d th at b eh avio r. Su m mer h ad k ep t h er p ro m is e to X av ie r a nd V io le t;
s h e h ad co nvin ced J .J . th at t h ey ’d m ea n t n o h arm b y s ne ak ing int o t h e d olp h in
t a n k a n d sh ou ld n’t b e p ro se cu te d . Ins te a d , a d iff ere nt p u n is h m ent h ad be en
w ork ed o u t fo r th em : Each h ad to d o fo rty h ou rs o f vo lu nt eer se rv ice at
F un Ju n gle — alt h ou gh it w as u p to them to d eci de w here t o d o i t.

Vio le t h ad o p te d fo r D olp h in A dvent ure , w here sh e w as h elp ing te nd th e
an im als . Sh e w as w ork in g h ard b u t lo ving it . (S h e g o t t o s w im w it h t h em a lo t
as p art o f h er jo b.) N ot s u rp ris in gly , X av ie r h ad ch ose n Pan da P ala ce . Sta rting
t h at aft e rn oon , he w ou ld be a “ju ni or p an da am bassa d or” at th e ex h ibi t,
a n sw erin g g u ests’ q u estio n s a n d d is p ens ing fa sci na ting p and a fa ct s. O ver th e
pre vio us w eek s, he h ad sp en t p le nt y o f tim e w it h th e p and a k eep ers, le a rni ng
as m uch a s h e co uld fr o m th em . N eit h er X av ie r n or V io le t se em ed to re g ard
th eir s ervice as m uch of a p un is h m ent at a ll.
A s S u m mer a n d I n ea re d P an da P ala ce , w e s p otte d X av ie r h ea d ing t h at w ay
a s w ell. D esp it e t h e h ea t, he w as w ea ring a t u xed o a g ain, alt h ou gh t h is o ne � t
him m uch b ette r t h an t h e o n e h e’d w orn th e d ay L i P ing h ad b een kid na pped .
“H ey g uys!” h e ca lle d to us. “ Hav e y ou s een L i P ing yet? ”
“ W e’r e o n o ur w ay,” S um mer s aid .
“If w e ca n g et th ro u gh th e l in es,” I a dded .
“D on’t w orr y ab ou t th at,” X avie r sa id sm ugly . “I’m a p an da a m bassa d or.
Y o u w on’t h av e to wait in lin e if you’r e w it h m e.”
“ I n ev er h av e to w ait in li n es,” S u m mer re m ind ed h im . “S eeing as m y
fa m ily o wns th is p la ce and a ll.”
“ N ice tu x,” I said .
“L ik e it ? ” X avie r s p u n a ro u n d t o m od el it f o r u s. “S o m eo ne in th e co stu m e
dep artm en t h ere f ou n d it f or m e a nd said I co uld h av e i t! C ool, h uh ?”
S u m mer a n d I s h are d a lo ok. In t r u th , it lo oked r id icu lo u s, no m atte r h ow
w ell it � t h im , b ut w e d id n’t s ay a ny th ing .
We to p ped a s m all r is e a n d P an da P ala ce ca me int o v ie w .  e s h eer s iz e o f
th e cr ow d sto p ped u s in o u r tr a ck s. A m assiv e li ne � lle d th e e nt ir e p la za in
f r o n t o f th e e xh ib it , th en d is a p pea re d in t he d ir e ct io n o f M onk ey M ou nt ain.
“ Je e z,” S um mer g asp ed . “  at m ust be tw o h ou rs l ong .”
“ M ore ,” X avie r co rre cte d. “ I’v e b een to ld i t ’s n ea rly t hre e.”
I n otice d E m ily Su n sta n din g in th e sh ad e of a ja ca ra n da tr e e ne arb y,
fa n nin g h erse lf w it h a F un Ju n gle m ap . Sh e se em ed p le a se d b y th e e no rm ou s
cr ow d t h at h ad t u rn ed u p t o s e e L i P ing . In fa ct , sh e w as e v en wea ring a s e t o f
L i P in g e a rs h erse lf . I d id n’t p oin t h er o u t to S u m mer, th ou gh . Since J .J . had
re co vere d L i P in g, his b u sin ess in te re sts in China h ad n’t s u ff ere d , bu t S u m mer
w as s till a nnoyed a t E mily f or th re a te ni ng her f ath er i n t he � rst p la ce .

My fr ie n ds an d I h ea d ed o n to w ard P an da P ala ce . As w e go t cl ose r, I
sp otte d M arg e O ’M alle y p atr o lli ng th e li ne . Aft e r I’d sto od u p fo r h er, sh e
had n’t b een � re d — alt h ou gh J .J . and H oene kker b oth f e lt s h e co uld n’t w ork in
s e cu rit y a n ym ore . Sh e h ad ca use d w ay t o o m any p ro bl em s in th at d ep artm ent .
How ev er, J.J . had cl ev erly in ven te d a no th er p osit io n fo r M arg e th at so u n ded
li k e s h e w as s till in s e cu rit y , ev en th ou gh s h e w asn ’t : dir e ct or o f cr ow d co ntro l
o p era tio n s.  e jo b w as p erfe ct fo r h er. It t o ok a w ay t h e t h ing s t h at h ad m ad e
h er a m en ace — her T ase r, her g o lf ca rt, her a b ili t y to a rre st p eo p le —bu t still
a llo w ed h er to d o w hat sh e li k ed to d o m ost: act li k e a n au th orit y a nd bo ss
p eo p le a ro u n d. A t t h e m om en t, sh e w as s tr u tting a lo ng a nd b ark ing o rd ers li k e
a d rill se rg ea n t. “O nce in sid e th e e x h ibi t, no fo od o r d rink is a llo w ed . Ple a se
d ep osit all u n co nsu m ed fo od an d d rink s in th e p ro p er re ce pta cl es b y th e
en tr a n ce . And b e a w are th at, once ins id e th e e x h ibi t, th ere is to be no � ash
p h oto gra p h y, ban gin g on th e gla ss, or any oth er peste ring of th e pand a.
V io la tio n o f a n y o f t h ese r e g u la tio ns w ill r e su lt in yo u r b eing f o rci bl y r e m oved
fr o m th e p re m is e s.”
A v elv et ro p e b etw een tw o p ylo n s p re v ent ed th e g u ests a t th e fr o nt o f th e
li n e f ro m ente rin g P an da P ala ce unt il M arg e l et t hem thro u gh . A fam ily o f f ou r
sto od ju st beh in d th e ro p e; both pare nt s lo oked ex h au ste d fr o m th eir
p ro lo n ged w ait , w hile t h eir t w o y o u ng ch ild re n—w ho w ere co vere d f r o m h ea d
to to e in Fun Ju n gle pan da m erch and is e —bo unce d up an d dow n wit h
e x cite men t, th rille d th ey w ere � nally a bou t t o s ee L i P ing .
Su m mer a n d X avie r h ea d ed d ir e ct ly fo r th e e nt ra n ce , rig h t in fr o nt o f a ll
t h e p eo p le in lin e.
“ W ait ,” I w arn ed th em . “W e pr oba bly sh ou ld n’t cu t rig h t in fr o nt of
ev ery o n e.”
“ B ut I w an t to se e L i P in g,” S u m mer to ld m e, “a nd th ere ’s n o w ay I’m
w ait in g in th at h uge lo n g li n e.”  en sh e to ok m y h and and d ra g ged m e
to w ard th e e ntr a n ce .
As I ’d f e a re d , th e f a th er a t t h e v elv et r o p e co mple te ly � ip ped o u t. “H ey !” h e
sh ou te d a t u s. “  ere ’s a lin e! G o o n ba ck and w ait l ik e e very o ne els e !”
X avie r � ash ed h is o ffi cia l F un Ju ng le b ad ge. “I d on’t h av e to w ait ,” h e sa id .
“I w ork h ere .”
“ Y ea h , rig ht,” th e f ath er s nap ped . “ Yo u’r e j u st a k id .”

“I’m an offi cia l ju n io r pan da am ba ssa d or,” X av ie r an no unce d pro u dly ,
p oin tin g to th e j ob titl e o n h is b ad ge.
 e f a th er d id n’t s e em t o b eli e v e t h is , bu t b efo re h e co uld a rg u e a ny f u rth er,
M arg e h ustle d o ver. “ W hat s eem s t o be the p ro bl em here , f olk s?”
“  ese tr ou ble m ak ers a re tr yin g to ju m p t he l ine ,” t he f ath er e xp la ine d.
 e m oth er, m ea n w hile , lo oked very em ba rr a sse d ab ou t her husba nd ’s
b eh avio r. “ Ju st l et th em go,” s he s aid . “  ey ’r e o nl y k id s.”
“W e h av e k id s!” th e fa th er ex cl aim ed . “ ey w ait e d fo r th re e h ou rs li k e
go od citiz en s! I ’m not a bou t to let s om e r ule -b re a k ers w alt z r ig h t i n be fo re u s!”
A m on th b efo re , M arg e p ro b ab ly w ou ld h av e le a p ed a t th e ch an ce to bu st
m e fo r li n e-ju m pin g. O r a n yth in g e ls e s h e co uld t h ink o f. W hile X av ie r r e a lly
w as a ju n io r p an da a m bassa d or a nd S u m mer w as t h e o w ne r’s d au gh te r, I d id n’t
h av e a n y cl ou t t o s li p t h ro u gh a h ea d o f e v ery o ne e ls e . B ut t o d ay M arg e t u rne d
her a tte n tio n t o t h e f a th er a n d p u t a n a rm a ro u nd m e. “S ir , th is b oy is no r u le -
b re a k er. In fa ct, th ere w ou ld n’t e v en b e a p an da h ere r ig h t n ow if it w asn ’t fo r
h im . W hen L i P in g w as s to le n , T ed dy h ere � gu re d o ut w ho’d t ak en h er.”
 e t w o ch ild re n lo oked a t m e, w id e-e y ed in am aze m ent , as d id a f e w o th er
p eo p le in li n e. H ow ev er, th e fa th er d id n’t b u y it . “H im ?” h e sco ffed . “ en
h ow co me I d id n’t h ea r a nyth in g a bo ut i t o n t he ne ws?”
M arg e g av e th e g u y th e ty p e o f w it h ering sta re sh e u se d to re se rv e fo r m e.
“ Y o u r e a lly th in k th e g o vern m ent ’s g o ing to a d m it th at a k id � gu re d o u t w ho
sto le th e p an da w hen n on e o f th eir ag ent s co uld ?  e F B I w ou ld still b e
grilli n g th e w ro n g p eo p le if Ted dy h ad n’t co me a lo ng .”
X avie r g ap ed a t M arg e, sh ock ed s h e w as g iv ing m e p ra is e li k e th is . I w as a
b it s urp ris e d m yse lf , e ven th ou gh I k new the r ea so n be hind it. M olly O ’M alle y,
w ho’d b een s o d is m is siv e a n d d is d ain fu l o f u s, had r e ce iv ed a to n of b ad p re ss
a s th e a g en t w ho b otch ed th e b ig p and a ca se . M arg e h ad b een th rille d to se e
h er s is te r s cr ew u p in such a h uge w ay —a lt h ou gh I ’d ne ver e xp ect ed h er t o g iv e
m e cr ed it f or h elp in g m ak e it h ap pen. A nd in p ubli c, no less.
 e fa th er b ack ed d ow n, co wed b y M arg e’s d efe ns e o f m e—a nd p ro ba bly
aw are th at h is w if e w ou ld b e very an no yed w it h h im if h e p u sh ed th ing s
fu rth er. As it w as, th e w if e se em ed v ery im pre sse d b y w hat M arg e h ad sa id
a b ou t m e. “D id yo u h ea r th at? ” sh e ask ed h er ch ild re n. “ is yo u ng bo y
help ed r escu e th e p an da!”

“W ow !” e xcl aim ed h er s on .
“ an ks f or s avin g L i P in g!” s aid h er d au gh te r.
S u m mer te asin gly th re w h er a rm s a ro u nd m e a nd co oed , “ My h ero !”
 e ch ild re n g ig gle d a t th is .
“ Ju st h an g t ig h t a f e w m ore m in ute s,” X av ie r t o ld t h em . “S o on yo u’r e g o ing
t o s ee o ne o f th e m ost a m azin g a nim als o n e arth !”
M arg e u sh ere d u s to ward th e e ntr a n ce . “ Rig h t t his w ay, k id s.”
X avie r an d S u m mer h ea d ed in to th e ex h ibi t. But b efo re I co uld fo llo w
th em , M arg e g ra b bed m y a rm and h eld m e ba ck. “ Hold o n t here , T ed dy.”
F or a m om en t, I t h ou gh t s h e m ig h t r e v ea l t h at I r e a lly w as in tr o u ble a ft e r
a ll. In ste a d , sh e p u lle d m e a sid e a n d w his p ere d , “I ne ver g o t t o s a y it , bu t .  . .
th an k y ou . I owe y ou b ig f or h ow y ou s to od u p f or m e w it h t he t op br ass.”
“ W ell, y ou d id s av e m y l if e w it h t he p ola r be ar.”
“ Y ea h , bu t I w as als o a m ajo r p ain- in- th e-r e a r to yo u all la st yea r. Yo u
co uld ’v e g o tte n rid o f m e fo r g o od , bu t y o u lo oked o u t fo r m e ins te a d . A nd
yo u h elp ed m e s h ow u p m y s is te r. I s a w h er a t o u r p are nt s’ h ou se la st w eek end .
 e F B I’s re a lly p eev ed at h er b eca use o f th is w hole p an da � asco .  ey ’r e
re lo ca tin g h er t o s o m e d ep artm en t w ay o u t i n th e s tick s. It’s a m ajo r d em otio n.
Yo u s h ou ld ’v e s e en h ow d ev asta te d s h e w as! I t w as h ila rio u s!” M arg e br oke int o
la u gh te r th in kin g a bou t it.
S u m mer p eek ed b ack o u t o f P an da P ala ce , w ond ering w hat w as h old ing m e
up. I sig n ale d I’d b e rig h t th ere a n d th at sh e co uld g o o n ah ea d . S h e e a g erly
s li p ped b ack in sid e.
I r e tu rn ed m y a tte n tio n t o M arg e. “If y o u r e a lly o w e m e b ig , th en I ne ed a
fa v o r.”
“ N am e it. ”
“Y o u k n ow t h ose r e co rd in gs y o u h av e o f S u m mer s h op li f t ing s tu ff ? D estr o y
th em .”
M arg e fr o w ned , as t h ou gh s h e w asn ’t p le a se d I ’d t h ou gh t o f t h is . B ut t h en,
sh e s ig h ed a nd g av e in . “Don e.”
“ R ea lly ?”
“ O ne t h in g y o u s h ou ld k n ow a b ou t m e,  eo d ore . I’m go od o n m y w ord .”
M arg e g av e m e a p at o n th e b ack a n d a n h one st- to -g o d s m ile .

e s o u n ds o f a r u ck us ca me fr o m th e li ne . So m e te ena gers w ere tr y ing to
cu t. M arg e vig ila n tly tu rn ed th at w ay. “L ooks li k e w e’v e g o t a sit u atio n, ” sh e
an nou n ce d. “D on’t w orr y , fo lk s. I’v e g o t t h is .”  en sh e h ik ed u p h er be lt a nd
str o d e o ver to han dle th e tr ou ble .
I h urrie d in sid e P an da P ala ce .
Li P in g w as in t h e � rst vie win g a re a , alt h ou gh I co uld n’t s e e h er r ig h t a w ay.
E ven th ou gh M arg e w as li m it in g th e n um be r o f v is it o rs ins id e P and a P ala ce ,
th e ro om w as still p ack ed . Peo p le w ere sta ck ed fo u r d eep ag ains t th e g la ss,
o oh in g a nd a ah in g w it h d eli g h t.
X avie r had alr e a d y ta k en his pla ce at a sm all pod iu m , where he w as
p ro fe ssio n ally r e la tin g in fo rm atio n to t h e cr ow d. “A ll o f y o u a re v ery lu ck y,” h e
w as s ay in g, “ as L i P in g is w id e-a w ak e a nd in a pla y fu l m ood r ig h t no w.”
I sp otte d S u m mer at th e g la ss, riv ete d to th e p an da, an d w ove m y w ay
th ro u gh th e cr ow d to ward h er.
“ S h e’s p erfe ctl y h ap py in t h ere a ll b y h erse lf ,” X av ie r w ent o n. “In th e w ild ,
pan das are extr em ely so li t a ry , on ly m eeting u p w it h o th er p an das fo r a fe w
d ay s a y ea r, if th at. So w hen o u r m ale p and a a rriv es h ere , th e tw o o f th em
w on’t s h are a n e n cl osu re . In ste a d , S h en Ju w ill b e o n dis p la y in th e e x h ibi t ne xt
d oor.”
I s qu ee ze d in besid e S um mer.
I n t h e e xh ib it , L i P in g w as p la y in g w it h a la rg e p la stic ball, ro lli ng it a ro u nd
w it h h er f ro n t p aw s.
“ L ook a t h er,” S um mer s aid . “ Is n ’t s he t he cu te st t hing ever?”
L i P in g’s b all g o t a w ay a n d r o lle d r ig h t in fr o nt o f u s.  e p and a bo und ed
o ver t o it , so w e w ere o n ly in ch es a w ay f r o m h er o n th e o th er s id e o f t h e g la ss,
cl ose e nou gh to see rig ht in to h er d ark br ow n e yes.
“ S h e’s b ea u tif u l,” I a gre ed .
Su m mer tu rn ed to m e, her s m ile s h if t ing to a lo ok o f co nce rn. “W hat w as
a ll th at a bou t w it h M arg e?”
“ S h e j u st w an te d to th an k m e a gain f or h elp ing keep h er j ob.”
S u m mer k ep t s ta rin g a t m e s h re w dly , as h er fa th er o ft e n did , li k e s h e k ne w
th ere w as s om eth in g m ore to th e s to ry . “ Sh e w asn ’t u pse t a t y ou ?”
“ N op e.”
“ S o e very th in g’s co ol? ”

“Y ea h ,” I s a id , ta k in g h er h an d. Sta n ding t h ere w it h m y g ir lf r ie nd , w atch ing
o n e o f th e m ost a m azin g a n im als o n ea rth , it d id n’t se em th at li f e co uld g et
m uch bette r. “ Every th in g’s p erfe ct. ”

Li P in g I s N ot t h e O nly P anda i n D anger!
T he g ia nt p anda i s t h e m ost e n dan gere d m em ber o f th e b ea r fa m ily .
 ere a re f ew er th an 2 ,500 o f th em ali v e o n e arth .
 an kfu lly , over th e p ast fe w d eca des, th e C hine se g o vernm ent h as be en
e xtr em ely a ggre ssiv e w it h p an da co nserv atio n. A ccord ing to t he W orld W ild li f e
F un d, th e m ost re ce nt N atio n al G ia n t P an da S u rv ey re v ea le d a 1 6.8 perce nt
in cr ea se in w ild p an da n um bers o ver th e p ast d eca de (u p to 1 ,864 estim ate d
in divid uals ), as w ell as an 1 1.8 p erce nt incr ea se in th e p an da’s geo gra p h ic
r a n ge, w it h th e a ddit io n o f tw en ty -s e v en ne w p an da r ese rv es.
B ut e v en t h ou gh t h ese n um bers a re e nco ura g ing , gia n t p an das s till ne ed o u r
h elp . H un tin g an d h ab it a t lo ss are still th re a ts to p an das w ho li v e o u ts id e
co nse rv atio n a re a s. Furth erm ore , w hen yo u p ro te ct g ia n t p and a h abi ta ts , yo u
als o e n d u p p ro te ctin g m an y o th er, le ss w ell- k no wn (b u t e q u ally fa sci na ting )
an im als th at sh are th ose p la ce s: cr ea tu re s li k e th e ta k in, th e se ro w , th e re d
p an da, a nd th e a weso m ely n am ed g old en s nub- nose d m onk ey.
If y o u w an t to h elp , a g o od p la ce to s ta rt is w it h th e W orld W ild li f e F und
(w hose m asco t is a p an da) at w ww.w orld w ild li f e .o rg . O r yo u co uld go to
w ww.p an da.o rg .cn t o le a rn a b ou t t h e C hen gd u P an da R ese a rch B ase in China
a n d h ow y ou ca n s upport th eir w ork t here .
 e W orld W ild li f e F un d a ls o d oes a lo t o f w ork to co nfro nt th e se rio u s
is su e o f a n im al t r a ffi ck in g. A s I in dica te d in th is b ook, th e ille g al w ild li f e t r a d e
is d ecim atin g a n im al p op u la tio n s a ll o ver t h e w orld —a nd t h e U ni te d S ta te s is
o n e o f th e to p im porte rs. Every y ea r, tr a ffi ck ers se ll th ou sa nd s o f li v e a ni m als
t h at h av e b een ille g ally t a k en f r o m t h e w ild —a s w ell a s p arts o f la rg er a ni m als ,
w hich hav e b een k ille d f or th em , lik e i vo ry f ro m ele p h ant tusk s o r r hino horns .
Yo u ca n h elp b y r e fu sin g to b u y a ny p ro d u ct s m ad e fr o m e nd an gere d a ni m als
— an d if y o u’r e in th e m ark et fo r a n ex o tic pet, m ak e su re y o u’r e bu ying o ne
th at h as b een b re d o r o b ta in ed le g ally . (I k n ow y o u’r e p ro ba bly no t bu ying a
p an da o r a tig er, bu t e v en b u yin g a bi rd , re p tile , or � sh th at h as be en ille g ally
t a k en fr o m it s h ab it a t ca n h av e d ra stic eff ect s o n th ose s p eci es.) A sk d ea le rs if

th ey ca n p ro vid e p ap erw ork t o p ro ve w here t h eir a ni m als h av e co me f r o m —o r
se e if t h eir co mpan y h as a s u sta in ab ili t y p la n. If t h ey d on’t , yo u m ig h t w ant t o
ta k e y ou r b usin ess e ls e w here .
If y o u’r e co nce rn ed a b ou t t r a ffi cki ng a n d w ant t o k n ow w hat y o u ca n do t o
h elp sto p it , visit w ww.w orld w ild li f e .o rg /p ag es/ sto p -w ild li f e -cr im e or
w ww.tra ffic.o rg .
F in ally , here ’s a li s t o f o th er o rg an iz a tio ns th at d o g re a t w ork p ro te ct ing
e n dan gere d s pecie s a nd h ab it a ts :
 e N atu re C on se rv an cy : natu re .o rg
 e C en te r f or B io lo gica l D iv ersit y : b io lo gica ld iv ersit y .o rg
G re en pea ce : gre en pea ce .org
 an ks!
S tu art G ib bs

Ack n ow le d gm en ts
I a m in deb te d to m any p eo p le fo r th eir h elp w it h re se a rch ing th is
b ook.
R ach elle M arco n a t th e S an D ie g o Z oo g av e m e a w ond erfu l be hind -th e-
sce nes to u r of th e zo o an d th e pan da ex h ibi t, while Ju li e B re slo w , Larr y
H an au er, an d C .J. H an au er d id th e sa m e fo r m e at th e N atio na l Z oo in
W ash in gto n , D C . O n t h e d olp h in f r o n t, th e � n e f o lk s a t D olp h inQ uest o n th e
B ig Is la n d o f H aw aii in tr o d u ce d m e to a fe w o f th ese w ond erfu l a ni m als a nd
a n sw ere d a ll m y q u estio n s a b ou t t h em . M y int ern, Em ma S o re n, du g u p a lo t
o f fa scin atin g an d in cr ed ib ly u se fu l p an da fa ct s fo r m e. G re g L esse r o ff ere d
g re a t in sig h t in to h ow ju ris d ictio n mig h t w ork in a ca se li k e th is . G ia v anna
G re in , w ho s p ecia li z e s in � gh tin g ille g al a n im al t r a ffi ck ing a t t h e W WF , d id n’t
m ere ly ad vis e m e; sh e als o b ro u gh t m e in to m eet w it h a lo t o f incr ed ibl y
im pre ssiv e p eo p le in t h e W WF’s a n im al crim es d ivis io n . I o ff er h uge t h an ks t o
B en F re it a s, B as H uijb re g ts , N ila n ga J a y asing he, Jo h n Pro be rt, R ach el Kr am er,
C ra w fo rd A lla n , R ob in Saw yer, an d pan da co nserv atio n sp eci ali s t Ka re n
B ara g o n a fo r th eir in sig h t— an d fo r th e a m azing w ork th ey d o e v ery d ay to
p ro te ct w ild li f e .
O n th e p u bli s h in g fr o n t, m y e d it o r, Kr is tin Ostb y, pro vid ed inci siv e no te s,
m y d esig n er, Lucy C um min s, kn ock ed it o u t o f th e p ark (a s u su al) , and m y
ag en t, Je n nif e r Jo el, go t m e th is w hole ca re er w rit ing th ese b ooks in th e � rst
p la ce . Fin ally , th an ks t o m y f a v o rit e ju n io r e d it o rs, th e r e a l D ash ie ll a nd V io le t,
fo r th eir e n co ura g em en t, an d m y incr ed ibl e w if e , Su za n ne , fo r h er u ne nd ing
s u pport.

Abou t t h e A uth or
STU ART G IB BS is th e au th or o f th e F un Ju n gle and M oon Base A lp h a
se rie s, as w ell as th e N ew Y ork T im es b ests e lli n g S p y S ch ool se rie s. H e h as
w rit te n t h e s cr een pla y s f o r m ovie s li k e S ee S pot R un a n d R ep li - K ate ; w ork ed o n
a w hole bu n ch of an im ate d � lm s; dev elo p ed T V sh ow s fo r N ick elo d eo n,
D is n ey C han nel, A BC , an d F ox; a n d r e se a rch ed ca pyba ra s ( th e w orld ’s la rg est
r o d en ts ). Stu art li v es w it h h is w if e a nd ch ild re n in Los A ngele s. Yo u ca n le a rn
m ore a bou t w hat h e’s u p to at s tu artg ib bs.co m .
Simon & Schuster Books for Y oung Readers
Simon & Schuster
New York
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Als o b y S tu art G ib bs
The F unJu ngle s e rie s
B elly U p
Poa ch ed
B ig G am e
The S py S ch ool s e rie s
S py S ch ool
S py C am p
Evil S py S ch ool
S py S ki S ch ool
The M oon B ase A lp ha s e rie s
S pace C ase
S pace d O ut
Th e L a st M usk ete er

SIM ON & S C H UST ER B O OKS F O R Y O UN G R EA D ER S
An i m prin t o f S im on & S ch uste r C hild re n ’s P ubli s h in g D iv is io n
1 230 A ven ue o f t h e A m eric a s, N ew Y o rk , N ew Y o rk 1 0 020
w ww.S im on an dSch uste r.c o m
 is b ook i s a w ork o f � ctio n . A ny r e fe re n ces t o h is to ric a l e v en ts , r e a l p eo p le , o r r e a l p la ces a re u se d
� ctit io u sly . O th er n am es, c h ara cte rs, p la ces, a n d e v en ts a re p ro d u cts o f t h e a u th or’s i m ag in atio n , a nd a ny
re se m bla n ce t o a ctu al e v en ts o r p la ces o r p erso n s, li v in g o r d ea d , i s e n tir e ly c o in cid en ta l.
T ex t c o p yrig h t © 2 017 b y S tu art G ib bs
B ook d esig n a n d p rin cip al j a ck et i llu str a tio n b y L ucy R uth C um min s, c o p yrig h t © 2 0 17 b y S im on &
S ch uste r, I n c.
Ja ck et b ack gro u n d a rt c o p yrig h t © 2 017 b y  in ksto ck .c o m
A ll r ig h ts r e se rv ed , i n clu din g t h e r ig h t o f r e p ro d u ctio n i n w hole o r i n p art i n a n y f o rm .
SIM ON & S C H UST ER B O OKS F O R Y O UN G R EA D ER S i s a t r a d em ark o f S im on & Sch uste r, I nc.
F or i n fo rm atio n a b ou t s p ec ia l d is c o u n ts f o r b u lk p u rc h ase s, p le a se c o n ta ct S im on & S ch uste r S pec ia l
S ale s a t 1 -8 66-5 06-1 949 o r b u sin ess@ sim on an dsc h uste r.c o m .
 e S im on & S ch uste r S p ea k ers B ure a u c a n b rin g a u th ors t o y o u r li v e e v en t. F or m ore i n fo rm atio n o r t o
b ook a n e v en t, c o n ta ct t h e S im on & S ch uste r S p ea k ers B ure a u a t 1 -8 66-2 48-3 049 o r v is it o u r w eb sit e a t
w ww.s im on sp ea k ers.c o m .
E ndpap er a rt b y R yan  om pso n
 e t e x t f o r t h is b ook w as s e t i n A dob e G ara m on d P ro .
L ib ra ry o f C on gre ss C ata lo gin g-in -P ubli c a tio n D ata
N am es: G ib bs, S tu art, 1 969– a u th or.
T it le : P an da-m on iu m : a F un ju n gle n ovel / S tu art G ib bs.
D esc rip tio n : F ir st E dit io n . | N ew Y o rk : S im on & S ch uste r B ooks f o r Y o u n g R ea d ers, 2 017. | S eq u el t o :
B ig g am e. | S u m mary : T ed dy F it z ro y m ust s o lv e t h e c rim e o f t h e k id n ap ped r a re a n d e x p en siv e p an da, L i
Pin g.
Id en ti� ers: L C CN 2 016002113| I S B N 9 7814 81445672 ( h ard co ver) | I S B N 9 781481445696 ( eB ook)
Su bje c ts : | C YA C : M yste ry a n d d ete c tiv e s to rie s. | Z oos— Fic tio n . | P an das— Fic tio n . | Z oo a nim als —
F ic tio n .
C la ssi� ca tio n : L C C P Z 7.G 339236 P an 2 017 | D DC [ F ic ]— dc2 3
L C r e c o rd a v aila b le a t h ttp s:/ /lc cn .lo c.g o v/2 016002113
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