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|edHelper's suggested reading level:||grade 3|
|Flesch-Kincaid grade level:||3.99|
Retiring from the Zoo
By Beth Beutler
1 Joe Mason couldn't believe the day had finally come. After thirty years of working at the city zoo, he was retiring. He had mixed feelings. He loved his job, but it was getting harder to do. His back was sore more often. He wished he had more time to relax at home. However, he would miss many things about being at the zoo every day.
2 As Joe drove up to his parking place, he began to think back on his career. During college, he had started working at the zoo in the summer. He cleaned cages and swept paths the first summer. Then he learned about feeding various animals. Over time, the zookeeper taught him a lot about the animals. He learned about creating the best habitat for them. He was allowed to research how best to feed the animals. He even got to help the trainers.
3 After 18 years doing a variety of jobs such as ticket-taker, cage cleaner, and tour guide, Joe was promoted to assistant zookeeper. That's the job he had for the remaining 12 years of his career there. When the main zookeeper retired two years ago, Joe was asked about taking his place. He had given it serious thought. In the end, because Joe knew that he himself would retire soon, he decided to remain the assistant.
4 Joe got out of his two-door car and headed up the slope to the zoo entrance. As usual, he was one of the first ones there. The zoo was quiet except for an occasional hoot from the resident owl. The sun hadn't even come up yet.
5 Joe unlocked the gate, let himself in, and turned to lock it again. He slowly strolled toward the office, taking the long way around. The path wound past the elephants, giraffes, and tigers. Joe sighed. He had come to love some of these animals. There were some that he kept his distance from, though. He had quickly learned you cannot treat wildlife as domestic pets. However, each of them was special to him. Some of them even seemed to recognize him. (This happened especially when he had food for them!) Even this morning, it seemed the animals knew he was retiring. As he stopped at each cage, he whispered goodbye to them.
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