A boy of 10, JIM, dangles his hand over the side of a bus seat. It is hot. With his other hand he wipes the sweat from his brow. As he turns to look out the window, we follow his gaze until we see, through the window, fields of high grass, swaying in the wind.
JIM (V.O.) (whispering)
Why does grass grow so high? Why did God make it green, and the sky blue?
CUT TO: From the grassy field, we see the yellow school bus pass in and out of frame. A falcon flies into frame and rests on the branch of a dead tree.
JIM (V.O.) (cont.)
Sometimes, when I think about dying, my heart aches and the world turns gray, like looking at pictures in a newspaper.
CUT TO: Close up of the falcon, bobbing its head. It shrieks then flies away.
TITLE slowly dissolves into frame from nothing: THE DAY OF ANIMALS. It fades out and we
CUT TO: School bus pulling into a parking lot. It brakes and as the doors swing open, small children run out into the sparkling noon sun. Their teacher, PEGGY DONALDSON, follows them off the bus.
PEGGY (V.O. - whispering)
Acorns turn to trees and then to lumber. I am a tree that gives the world no acorns, and no lumber.
All right everybody, I need your attention. Buddy up with your partner and hold hands. Is everybody here? Good. Let's get in a single file and follow me.
The procession of small children starts moving toward the door. The camera, weightless, floats next to a pair of hands, clasped, swaying in time to the rhythm of the children's stride.
CUT TO: A monitor lizard rests inside a fake and artificial habitat. It lies still, until a fly lands on its shoulder. It moves its head slowly. From inside the cage, the camera cuts to a shot of the children looking through the glass at the lizard. The glass is dirty and mottled, and the children are not decipherable; they move slightly but otherwise could be in an impressionist painting.
CUT TO: Close profile of a small girl, JANE, looking in at the lizard.
JANE (V.O.) (whispering)
Does an animal get lonely? Or think of his home? Does he know he's in a cage? Does he suffer like me? Does he know he's gonna die?
CUT TO: The camera floats, following two children who run through the maze-like outdoor corridors of the zoo. They stop outside the MONKEY ENCLOSURE, though the camera swoops past them and upward, until it is level with two CHIMPAZEES in a tree. The chimps groom each other, eating grubs from each other's backs.
CUT TO: A little girl, JULIA, holds the hand of a boy, JACK, as they peer up at the monkeys. JULIA looks over at JACK, but JACK keeps his gaze fixed on the animals.
JULIA (V.O.) (whispering)
Who are you? Are you the face of love to me? What am I to you? When night comes do you wish I were there? Do you cry like I do when the sun comes up and you are not with me?
CUT TO: As the chimps continue to groom each other, the chimp in the front turns around and stares into the eyes of the chimp behind it, then looks down, closes its eyes.
CUT TO: A Galapagos Turtle carries a lemur on its back. A peacock intersects the frame, as chimes can be heard faintly in the background. As the turtle slowly crawls to a dirty watering hole, we hear:
PEGGY (V.O.) (whispering)
For whom do I toil? To whom do I give care and comfort? When I am frail and hungry, who will tend to me? Is it enough to be a good person in this world? What is asked of us - what can we ask of others?
The turtle reaches the water and bends down to drink. A sparrow enters the frame and the two drink in silence, together.