Protectors of the Bioverse

Screenshot 2024 06 05 at 11.19.38 AM

Protectors of the Bioverse

by Camden B.

A May 2024 Monthly Story Challenge Winner

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“Ohhhhh-No!” Olivia yells over the blaring alarm, seeing the wooden fence split into thousands of pieces. It was supposed to keep the African Elephants inside their enclosure. Of course, that’s what they said the other 27 times. How the elephants keep breaking out, we don’t know, but my two sisters and I think that the fence manufacturers keep sending us bad fences so our parents have to give them even more money. 

I’m Alex Sparrow, and my two sisters are Olivia and Lucy. We live at The Bioverse Sanctuary in San Diego, California, with our parents, James and Emily. And no, it’s not that zoo. This place isn’t open to the public. We do help the San Diego Zoo, and really we help all zoos and aquariums. Our 4 elephants are named Ella (obviously) The Leader, her 2 children Emma and Ezra, and their father Eli. They love breaking out, so we intentionally moved every other animal we have away from their enclosure, and also added alarms. 

Anyway, now back to rounding the elephants up. Sprinting, Olivia and I reach the gates to the rest of the sanctuary and quickly close them off. We all know that our elephants like eating bamboo, so Lucy drags as much bamboo as she can (which, to be honest, isn’t that much) and leaves it at the watering hole inside of their giant enclosure. Thankfully, the elephants cooperate and soon we have them all back where they belong. 

Later That Night

“Kids, please come to the living room.” As my parents say that, I get a feeling of dread. 

“Your mom and I will be gone on a conservation trip for about a month, and Grandma and Grandpa are going to watch you,” Dad announces.

We don’t know what to feel. Grandma and Grandpa are nice, but they can be strict when they want to. I ask the question I know my sisters are thinking too, “When are you both leaving?” and their answer catches everyone a little bit off guard.

“Tomorrow morning, before you are awake.” 

You could hear a pin drop. 

3 Months Later

Where our parents are, no one knows, and I think everyone is starting to get worried, myself included. “Kids! It’s time to go to bed!” Grandma and Grandpa tell us. I trudge up the staircase and fall into a restless sleep, wondering what happened.


HOOOOOO, HOO-HOO-HOO-HOOOOOOOOOOOOO! That is all I hear. I get out of bed, careful not to wake my sisters, and creep over to the window. I see it, a large Great-Horned Owl, 3 feet tall, and hard to spot. 

Before it flies away, I broadcast, “Why are you being so loud?” to it, and I immediately get a reply of “What do you mean? It is the middle of the day for me.” I begin to broadcast a second message, but he tells me something. “OH! I almost forgot. I know where your parents are.” 

I’m stunned, just stunned. I can’t believe it, he knows where our parents are! I do have two questions though. 

“Do we need to leave right now? My sisters are sleeping. Also, is there some kind of catch?” 

“We need to leave RIGHT NOW, as soon as possible.  Your parents need you three’s help. I promise I am just trying to help you.”  

Using my lie detection abilities, I know he’s telling the truth. Because of this I wake my sisters, which neither of them are happy about, and we sneak out. I leave a note, saying that we are going on a trip, and should be back soon. I find the owl, and we morph into Great Horned Owls, same as him, before flying off into the night.

The owl, named “Hootius the 3rd,” brings us to his home, in a hollow tree, where we stay for the night.

In the morning, we wake up, and then turn back into humans, before finding some safe berries to eat. We can identify them thanks to our parents. When my sisters and I were younger, they used to take us all on hikes, and show us all the berries you can and can’t eat. Thinking about this makes me sad that they are missing, but also even more determined to find them. After eating, we keep flying south. Lucy gets tired really fast, which means we will have to carry her with us. Eventually, we find a large cave, with some moss on the floor like a padding, and there are fireflies out, making it easier to see.  Because of this, we decide to stay the night. While we eat dinner, I ask the one big question that I think is on my, and my sisters’, minds. 

“Where are our parents?” I ask and then Hootius answers. 

“Your parents are in a warehouse, deep in the Amazon rainforest. The important thing is that they are safe.  They are staying with many wild animals, who were also caught by the EVIL person who trapped them. He is a POACHER.  

“Why would he trap our parents?” I ask. “They didn’t do anything to him.” 

“It may seem that way to us, but to him, they stole thousands of dollars. Let me explain. He sells animals, or, unfortunately, parts of them. This gets him his money. If your parents are going around saving animals by making sanctuaries and persuading governments to enforce laws against poaching, he can’t capture as many animals, so he gets less and less money.” 

I shiver, not necessarily because of the cold, but because of this evil plan. 

James Sparrow - Dad

“Where am I?” Woozy and unable to see, I am completely disoriented. My vision clearing, I see only darkness, but feel a cold metal floor, suggesting I’m in a warehouse of some kind. I use my  magical connection to animals, and find out the only animal near me is  a Leopard Gecko, though it seems far away and possibly injured. I broadcast “Can you hear or see me?” to the gecko. NOTHING. 

 Ten seconds pass, then 30, until finally I hear it. It’s a faint sound, like a whisper in my head, but I can hear it. “W-W-Who-o-o AR-R-R-RE Y-Y-YOU?”.  Clearly she is not feeling well, and I know she needs help. As I start to recover I notice that the air smells musty, but there is just a hint of a jungle or rainforest, which is weird, considering Emily and I were just in Mexico City, at Lake Xochimilco, the only place in the world where Axolotls live in the wild. The silence here is the absolute polar opposite to the hustle and bustle of Mexico City, and I don’t hear anything except the rustling of the gecko’s footsteps, and I don’t see any details that the gecko could use to find me. Slowly, the gecko’s footsteps get louder, and I can tell she escaped whatever cage the secret captor was holding her in, and I finally see her. Just for a moment, but there was definitely a flash of yellow. I know she is close to me, and so I broadcast another message: “You are getting closer to me. I just saw a flash of yellow, and I assume that was you.”  Two minutes later, and I can tell she is in the same cage as me, and 30 seconds later, she climbs onto my hand. 

“I FOUND A WAY OUT OF HERE. PLEASE FOLLOW ME!”  A sense of RELIEF, just RELIEF washes over me. She gives me a stick, and I use that to unlock the cage, with her guidance. After that, I morph into a Leopard Gecko. As we carefully crawl out, I ask her what her name is, and where she is from. “I AM LILY SWATTER, FROM WESTERN INDIA. MY FAMILY IS COMING TO HELP US IN OUR escape. I know where your wife is, so just follow me.”

Screenshot 2024 06 05 at 11.20.02 AM

Emily Sparrow - Mom

“Where am I?” I think, tired and unable to see anything inside of the warehouse. As my senses come back, I smell the stuffy air, just for a second, before the sound comes over me. It is deafening. A ruckus of caws, chirps, roars, and grunts cascades through my ears, getting even louder thanks to the echos. Suddenly, they ALL stop. Then, I hear it, a soft tapping against the thin aluminum wall. I see a juvenile elephant open a gate contraption, and then I see them, 2 small leopard geckos darting across the ground. 

“HELLO EVERYONE, MY RESCUE MISSION WAS SUCCESSFUL. I FOUND JAMES SPARROW!” Everyone else cheers, but for me it feels like time stops. James morphs back into a human, and unlocks the cold metal cage. I sprint over to James, thankful he is okay. Then I realize that I should thank the Leopard Gecko, who introduces herself as Lily Swatter, from Western India. I thank her and then James and I walk to the front of the giant warehouse, maybe 200 by 100 feet, and introduce ourselves. “Hello everyone, we are James and Emily Sparrow. We live in San Diego California, at the Bioverse Sanctuary. Thank you for letting us stay in this warehouse with you.” Our voices echo off the aluminum walls. Seconds pass before every animal here yells some version of “WeLCOME!” 

2 Days Later - Mom

“I hope that this works,” I tell Hootius, “We need you to find our kids.” “Of course, he reassures me, my navigation is NEVER wrong, for I am the great HOOTIUS THE THIRD!”  Everyone in the room does a collective eye roll. “Just don’t act like that with our kids, OK?” As he flies off, I feel a sense of hope. Maybe, just maybe, our kids could come to the rescue.


2 Weeks Later

The earthy smell of the rainforest hits my nose, and I can tell we are getting close. I look down and, with my owl vision, see an abundance of life all around, splashes of color occasionally flying out from the trees as parrots, and the sound is incredible. The cacophony of chirps, squawks, whistles, and so much more, is overwhelming, and it’s hard to take it all in.

After flying for about 30 minutes, we see the warehouse, a huge metal box, completely out of place with the rest of the rainforest. We land on the ground next to it, before changing back into humans. 

As we start opening what seems to be the door, we hear the animals yell “NO!”, “Stop!”, and “Don’t open that!” and immediately we find out why.

 “AHHHH!”, we scream, everyone, even Hootius, gets trapped in a huge net! We struggle and try to free ourselves, but it is to no use, and even worse, we can’t turn into any animals to try and squeeze through.

“OWWWW!” Lucy yells, “What was that!”. Suddenly, she slumps over. A small sleeping dart sticks out of her arm and then we start feeling woozy as well, and suddenly, I collapse into darkness.

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