Octavio Pineda

The lion I thought I was the king of the jungle, until a true tyrant arrived and took over my domains. He has cornered me, with all my subjects, into reserves of fragile borders that shrink day by day. Like in the courts of medieval castles, whose walls are often decorated with portraits of former monarchs, the hairy heads of my ancestors adorn as a trophy, as a tribute to ignominy, the walls of mansions of hunters of prey. That’s why I say that now I’m the king of nothing.   The giraffe They say I am a mixture of camel and leopard, but with a very long neck and blunt horns. My coat is a mosaic of orange spots apparently stuck with white plaster. I am the tallest and slenderest of all terrestrial species. Since ancient times, I have been an easy prey of men, who have preferred seeing me in zoos or coliseums to freely running on the African savannahs. Not even the wildest human imagination could have conceived me. I used to strut freely in the sunlight to feed on the leaves of trees. But as a precaution now I only go out at night, and during the day I'd rather hide my head on the ground like sage ostriches.   The orangutan Sitting at the top of this still intact tree, at a distance I hear the noise of chainsaws, of heavy machinery, and how the trunks rumble when falling, with a tremor of aggrieved, badly hurt jungle. The last time I confronted a bulldozer I got seriously injured. At first my younger, almond–eyed “brothers” just laughed, as if I were an anecdotal curiosity. But when they realized I was really upset, they threw stones and sticks to shoo me. To foolish words, deaf ears, so I preferred to walk away and take refuge with my people, or what is left of them. I ended up with a black eye and two broken ribs that now make it difficult for me to sigh. My old curtain fur has not really worked to keep me hidden and safe from infamous destruction. That's why I say my fur is more like a weeping willow.   The rhinoceros I looked like a living tank – an impenetrable fortress – equipped not only with armor, but with a horn-shaped head, a wonder of self-defense. But like Achilles, we all have our heel. And mine was, precisely, that portentous shaft that became the target of greed, of absurd superstition. In spite of my tremendous muscles, in many pictures I show myself crying ‘cause since then I already suspected I would be one of the first species to go extinct. They say the best defense is a good offense, but in my serenity of peaceful monk I never believed it. Now it's too late to regret it.   The whale It is of little use to be the largest of the species that have lived on Earth. The bigger you come, the harder you fall, and my size made me the most vulnerable of all. In the first journeys at sea, the mere sighting of my mass used to frighten seamen, keeping them at bay; and when they were back at their ports, they used to exaggerate my size, describing me as a monster, as the guardian of unknown waters. But very soon the planet’s worst predator overcame the distances of this big water sphere and also their own fears to then see me as an endless source of meat, fat and bones and put me on the verge of extinction. Fortunately, a sensible ban helped us recover in number. However, just as David defeated Goliath, my worst enemy is now entering me as poison in the stomach. And these beards that had allowed me to eat well over generations and been so effective in filtering krill from water now are unable to distinguish those little crustaceans from the plastics that are flooding the oceans.