The tiniest fang-like tooth, which, every time it has settled against the stop inside the lock, has kept the bolt from sliding free from the jamb of the big cat cage, had been misaligned from the start and, weakened by thousands of abuses, finally snapped. The gear it snapped from stopped at nothing and rolled a full rotation; the spring did its job in turn and slipped the bolt. Furthermore gravity did not fail and swung the door a few inches open to its lowest point above the path to the petting zone. It might have been engineered otherwise, to lock in the event of failure, but it wasn’t; the door might have been hung to swing closed without the bolt in place. Of course, the cats might have been left at home to eat what big cats hunt and kill for themselves or a young woman of a different disposition, seeing the door ajar, might have pushed it shut or alerted the man with the ring of keys or the uniformed someone puttering past in the camouflage utility jeep to park the jeep against the door to secure it until the lock could be fixed. Nothing like that happened. The parents whose children were terrorized and worse raised furious questions about mechanics and made demands for oversight that were different from the questions the young woman asks, different from her demands. Nobody knows what recommendations the cats might have made. The cage stands silently empty. Visitors point at the path pounded deep into the zoovironment, the tree trunk clawed to shreds, the faulty door, and notice certain failures but not the essential flaw, or so it seems to the young woman of a different disposition who comes back every day to the petting zone to watch the animals.
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