January 21, 4:10 PM

I’ve finally done it! After years of dreaming about it, I’ve snuck into the penguin enclosure. This is exhilarating. The penguins are so adorable, just hobbling around aimlessly. I want to stay here forever!

January 21, 4:20 PM
It seems the penguins are organized into a tribal hierarchy. Their leader, a tall male by the name of Bartholomew, has called me over for a meeting.

January 21, 4:30 PM
Bartholomew has agreed to let me stay, so long as I pledge my allegiance to his good grace and the everlasting strength of the Penguin Empire. I do. What do I care?

January 21, 5:00 PM
I am the only one with fingers, so I have been delegated the job of breaking sticks in two and putting them in a pile. I have also been designated a “performer.” I get up on the big rock and wiggle my fingers for the upper-class penguins for an hour. They go crazy for it.

January 21, 6:00 PM
I have grown quite close with the peasant class. Their job is to hold rocks between their legs and move them from one end of the enclosure to the other. Hard work, but it must be done. Given that I’m an outsider, I have been placed in this group, and in my time with them, I have experienced their kindness and generosity. Diana, for instance, noticed I had no food and regurgitated some of her herring meat into my mouth. Herring is no cheap commodity, so, after I spit it out, horrified, I made sure to thank her.

January 21, 7:00 PM
Though I’ve been in the tribe for just three hours, I have already become aware of some staggering injustices. The upper class gets two herrings at each meal, the middle-class one and a half and the peasantry only one. Plus, only the upper-class penguins get to swim in the big pool. I’d most definitely experience hypothermia if I went in, but the exclusion still stings.

January 21, 7:30 PM
Bartholomew is a tyrant. He’s the one that instituted this unjust caste system, and he also forces me to scratch his little head when it gets itchy. I’d rather rip it off.

January 21, 8:30 PM
The peasants recall the time before Bartholomew. They had hopes and dreams. Alexandre was studying to be a neurosurgeon. Claudette was an aspiring oil tycoon. Paulo was going to be Mark Ruffalo (I’ve told him there already is a Mark Ruffalo, but he won’t hear of it). When Bartholomew seized power, those dreams vanished. He took away their hope. But now that I am here (with my wiggling fingers), there seems to be a bounce in their hobbling steps and a twinkle in their vacant penguin eyes. Like the sun has come out again after six long months of winter.

January 21, 9:00 PM
The peasants and I are planning a coup. We will overthrow Bartholomew at midnight. It has also been decided that I will be installed as the new emperor. Johann seems unhappy with this decision. He’s originally from the San Diego Zoo and feels entitled to the throne. He claims he could have been upper class, but “chose” the peasantry for the “colorful personalities.”

January 21, 10:30 PM
We have developed a battle strategy. There isn’t room in the enclosure for anything fancy, so we’re just gonna charge him.

January 21, 11:00 PM
One hour to go. Everyone’s pretty nervous. Everyone, that is, except Johann. He keeps telling us that “once this fails,” he’ll be long gone. He says he has a timeshare for one of the most coveted rocks back in the San Diego enclosure. What an a-hole.

January 22, 12:01 AM
This is not going as planned! Bartholomew seemed to have anticipated our ambush. He had a whole battalion at the ready! I bet Johann tipped him off. That pretentious little traitor! I am spending the battle hiding in a crevice. My plan is to reflect on the brutality of war and maybe pen my first anti-war novel. Root for me!

January 22, 12:10 AM
The fight is over. We have killed Bartholomew. Unfortunately, owing to Johann’s betrayal, half of our group is also dead. The rest are seriously injured and we don’t expect medical help until the zoo reopens in several hours. Johann got away, like he promised. I hope they bully him in San Diego.

January 22, 1:00 AM
For my first act as emperor, I have dissolved the caste system. All will be allowed to swim in the big pool and herring will be distributed based on merit, not birthright. For my second act, I have outlawed nudity. Slap on some shorts, you creeps! Civilization: 1, Nature: 0.

January 22, 6:00 AM
Just woke up from a royal snooze. I have work in an hour. Real work, like, outside of the zoo. It’s somebody’s birthday today, and that means cake! I bid farewell to what’s left of my penguin compatriots. My subjects may feel a bit betrayed by my sudden departure, but I know in my heart that I’m cold and no longer care. Plus, the corpses are starting to smell. No thanks! I step over their tiny broken bodies, hop the fence, and, on my way out, I exchange glances with an orangutan. He’s like a hairy little man! But, whoa, with a handful of number two! What happened to sanitary protocol, compadre?! Fear not! I’m breaking in Friday night, and I’m bringing the wet wipes!