Last summer I phoned my aunt, who lives near Munich, to ask her if I could come to her to work in the zoo because my mother said that I should earn my own money that year. My aunt was very happy because I visited her last when I was eight years old. She said that we would do a lot of things together but I told her that I would come because of a vacation job. I asked: "Do you know if someone can work in the zoo, which we visited very often when I was younger ?" "Yes," she answered" But I’m not sure. I haven’t been there in a long time."

After that I began to pack my bags and I went into the kitchen to eat. But I couldn’t eat. I was too excited. I told my mother that my aunt wanted to meet me at the station.

I couldn’t sleep that night because I was too scared.

I knew that I would have a great time and I was sure that I would get to know new people. I hoped that the people and the animals in the zoo would be nice and friendly. I thought that I would only have to feed the animals and help to clean their cages. And then I would be free to do whatever I want. And my aunt had told me that the people who worked there were paid very well. So I hoped that I could have a lot of free time in which I could do a lot of things. I thought all in all it would be easy work and a great time.

The next day my mother took me to the station.

When I arrived at Munich, I couldn’t see my aunt. I looked over the whole station but she was nowhere. Two hours later I saw her running straight towards me and when she got to me she hugged me. After that I was so exhausted that I only wanted to go home.

The next morning I got up and went to the zoo, but when I arrived there I saw a big sign in front of the gate which said: "CLOSED" I was so surprised that I nearly fainted. I thought that this was going to be the worst holiday I had ever had. I sat down on a bench and thought about what to do now: "If I don’t have to work, I’ll have only free time but I won’t have any money either."

While I was sitting there, I saw a big sign which said: "CIRCUS PIMPARELLO !" I thought: "Cool, perhaps I can work there. There are animals, too and perhaps I’ll have more freedom than in the zoo."

When I got back home my aunt asked me: "Do you have a job in the zoo now ?" I explained to her: "No, it is closed, but I saw a sign which said "CIRCUS PIMPARELLO", perhaps I can work there. I think it’ll be easy work and most people in a circus are nice and friendly." My aunt answered: "Yes, that’s a great idea. I think you should go there tomorrow morning."

The next morning I slept until 10 o’clock and then I set out for the circus square. It was very colourful there and I could hear some funny music. I saw a lot of animals, for example elephants, monkeys, lions and bears. There were two clowns, too, who practised new tricks. A fire-eater practised, too.

Suddenly a man came to me, I thought it was the director, and asked: "Hey ! What are you doing here ? Strangers aren’t allowed to come here !" I was afraid but I answered: "Sorry, but I want to have a job. I thought you could need someone to help with the animals." "Then come with me ! I’ll take you to the elephants. There you’ll fit in best." When we arrived at the elephant enclosure, a man was sitting on the bigger animal and washed it behind it’s ears. "Hey Alfonso !" The director shouted very loudly. "Here is someone who wants to help you." The man on the elephant turned around and looked at me with an angry face. The director pushed me towards the elephants and gave me a bucket and a broom. "Start working!", he shouted "Alfonso will tell you the rules." I asked: "Do I earn some money here?" "What, do you want to have money? O.K. but 5 marks an hour are enough." And then he went away and I started to work. Suddenly Alfonso said: "Well , if you come too late you’ll have to work more. And you’ll have to work 14 hours a day!"

In the evening I told my aunt everything, but she said that I should continue my work there. The first day is always the worst day. And she was right.

Although the people weren’t very friendly, it was a lot of fun to work with the animals.

A few days later the people started to be friendly to me, which I couldn’t understand and they even promised that I could help the animal tamers to practise for the show. I helped to train the lions and the bears and I did it well. I hoped that I would be allowed to help in the show, too, but the animal tamers said that it was too dangerous.

The next Friday the show began very well. The programme was great. When it was the clowns’ turn, everybody began to laugh, because they were so funny.

But when one of them walked on the high rope, he fell off. Immediately, the ambulance was called. When they arrived they examined him and said that he had broken his leg. Some people thought it was a trick and they laughed more loudly.

After that it was the fire-eater’s turn. He was standing on a high ladder spiting fire. Alas, the ladder was too high so the tent began to burn. Everybody ran out and the fire department was called. After the fire had been put out, I went home.

I told my aunt the whole story and she said: "No wonder. It’s Friday, the thirteenth." "Oh no !", I shouted "Normally, thirteen is my lucky number. "

The next morning I heard on the radio that two elephants of the circus were missing. Everybody should stay in the houses and nobody should go out.

I thought: "That can only be Bimbo and Bambino." I went to the market square with the big fountain. There I saw the two big animals. They were splashing water everywhere and they were very nervous. I saw Alfonso running from policeman to policeman and shouted: "Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!"

Then I saw a stand where they were selling bread and immediately I had an idea. I ran to the stand and bought a whole bucket of bread. I climbed over the barrier and then I gave the bread to Bimbo and Bambino. They calmed down and then Bimbo grabbed me with his trunk and sat me on his back. We went back to the circus square where the director was waiting for us. He was very happy and he asked me if I wanted to help out every year. He said: "You are a real hero and in addition to that you did your job well. Here are 100 marks." Now the circus people and I have become good friends.

I work there every year and perhaps, I’ll become a famous artiste myself one day.

Katharina Haas (14)

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