Within... a story about acceptance, inclusion, and inner love

Updated: Feb 3

Once upon a present time, Cody the coyote was roaming around their exhibit at the local zoo. Cody was telling their coyote friends that while they liked being a coyote, they felt that in their hearts they wanted to be an elephant.

“An ELEPHANT??” some said, confused as to why such an intelligent and versatile creature would ever want to be anything other than itself.

Cody explained that while they loved being a coyote, sometimes they just felt that they were an elephant at their heart. Thankfully, Cody had an amazing group of friends they called the Barking Band, that accepted them for who they truly were within.

“We do not care if you want to be an elephant, a giraffe, a cat, or a mouse, we just want you to be happy,” a member of The Barking Band explained to Cody.

Cody was ecstatic their friends loved and accepted them for who they felt they were within, even if it did not match what they looked like on the outside.

Once a year, all the zoo animals were able to roam the zoo free and mingle with animals outside their species. This was Cody’s favorite time of year because they were able to see the elephants up close. The only other time he would see them is through the holes in the exhibit, standing in one corner of the den at the right time of day when the humans were eating lunch- a moment that had to line up so perfectly, that it rarely happened.

Cody decided this was the year they would tell the elephants how they felt. As Cody approached the herd of elephants, they became startled. I mean it is a coyote, an animal who will eat just about anything and can run 40 miles an hour, double the speed of an elephant.

The leader of the herd, Emory, approached Cody to find out what their motive was. Even though this was the social gathering of the year, a coyote had never approached the elephant herd before so the herd was a little on edge.

The moment Cody opened their mouth, everything they ever wanted to say came spilling out. “I think elephants are the most beautiful and majestic animals and I’ve always believed in my heart I am one,” Cody said.

Emory was taken aback for a moment. White playful and loved within their herd, the elephants had never wanted to be anything other than an elephant. They are the largest land mammal sure but look at the tigers, and the lions, the penguins. Emory looked around at the herd, all dirty and covered in mud to keep cool, and he thought that the coyotes seemed way cooler than the elephants.

But then, Emory took a step back and a light bulb moment happened. It was not for Emory to decide how Cody felt, what made their heartbeat love was not up to Emory. How Cody’s heartfelt love was up to Cody and they felt love in their heart when they saw themselves as an elephant. While Emory might have been confused because they had never seen picked themselves as another animal, that did not mean that Cody’s feelings were not valid.

Emory told Cody the elephant herd was honored that another species that was born in a different part of the world and lived a different part of the zoo, felt the deep family bonds that their species had as elephants. Elephants are sensitive, caring animals who feel compassion and if Cody felt those things too then they too were an elephant.

Emory introduced Cody and his Barking Band members to the herd and explained that while Cody may look like a coyote on the outside, their heart was filled with the same love and pride as every elephant that has roamed the lands before them If anyone had any issue with this, they could go to a different side of the zoo because only those who accepted love were welcome.

From that day forward, all the animals looked forward to their once-a-year gathering, where they could mingle with all species, free of judgment and shame. Emory and Cody taught not only the coyotes and elephants about true love and acceptance that day, they opened the eyes of all the animals at the zoo.

It did not matter what side of the zoo they lived in, if they had fur or skin if they ate bugs or fish, or how they looked on the outside- the animals learned the truth to happiness, the true you, always comes from within.

Written by Sabrina Johnson

Reviewed and edited by Katelyn Hopman

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