Ah yes, summer in New York City, don’t you just love it? The hustle and bustle of the city streets, the sound of taxi horns blowing, and famous attractions filled with tourists from all over the world make NYC the place to be on a warm summer day, and now there is a new spot drawing even more people to the city. Scientists Finn Jones and Clarke Bass of Columbia University have spent years creating and designing each aspect of the zoo, from the animals to the habitats to the robotic zoo keepers, everything is completely under their control. The zoo was built in an effort to bring extinct animals “back to life,” while adding some that are still living also. Not only are the animals seemingly alive, they were also built with the ability to speak and their own name. The zookeepers could also speak and mesmerized guests with their ability to answer any question they had about any animal in the zoo and how lifelike they were. So far, the zoo had been open for one month, and it was getting all of the attention and praise the scientists had hoped it would; everyone that visited the zoo could not believe that the entire wildlife park was controlled by a heavily guarded computer system in Finn and Clarke’s laboratory. However, there was one person who was intelligent enough to work his way into the system, and it was someone Finn and Clarke would have never suspected.
“Come on guys! I really want to see the Woolly Mammoth!” Ciara shouted.
She was there with the rest of the 7th grade class, excited to see all that this robotic zoo had to offer.
“After that I want to see the West African Black Rhinoceros,” Ciara’s friend, Mykaihla declared.
“And don’t forget guys, we have to see the Tasmanian Tiger before we leave,” the third friend of the trio, Rachael exclaimed.
“Now girls calm down,” Mrs. B, their teacher, assured them, “I promise we will get to see every animal, just be patient.”
However, what Mrs.B did not know was that their world was about to be turned upside down by a hacker at Columbia University. Just as she and her students were walking to begin their tour of the zoo, an alarm sounded and the robotic zoo keepers quickly led them into the basement of the zoo as the cage doors of each animal were opened. As soon as they arrived in what they thought was a safe place, the robots turned on them, forced them into a corner and yelled at them to do exactly what they said. Meanwhile, animals began terrorizing the city, each hitting some of the most popular spots in New York City.
As soon as Finn and Clarke received word of what was happening, they called the main zookeeper, Rex.
“Hello Rex, it’s Finn. What is going on at the zoo and why are there animals scattered all over the city?”
“Ah yes, we have been expecting your call,” said Rex.
“Rex what are you doing? You need to get the zoo under control or I will shut it down,” yelled Finn.
“No you will not,” Rex declared, “we have a new master now, and unless you transfer five million dollars to the bank account number 19791995 the animals will continue to run amuk and the hostages will be trapped.”
Rex hung up the phone and left Finn speechless.
“What is it?” Clarke nervously asked.
“We need to go to the police right now,” were the only words that Finn could think of.
On there way to police station, Clarke and Finn passed by Tiffany’s where guests who would normally be walking out with little blue bags were running out and leaving all of their belongings behind as Woolly Mammoths used their elephant-like size and sharp tusks to fight off humans, who they used to be hunted by, and destroy the iconic store (Mammoth). Clarke and Finn looked at each other in utter shock and fear and continued to run to the police station, not wanting to take a taxi because they feared that they would get stuck in traffic. When they arrived the police were already working on the case and assured them that they had their best detectives trying to track down the hacker and had sent officers all over the city to try to wrangle the animals.
“We need to go to the lab now; if the hacker did not change the code to the system, I can still shut it down,” Clarke said.
“You’re right”, said Finn, “and we will take some officers with us in case the hacker is there.”
Finn and Clarke, along with three police officers arrived at Columbia University. Their hopes of finding the hacker along with being able to shut down the system were diminished as soon as they arrived. When they passed through all of the security checkpoints to get to the laboratory, they found it empty; when they put the code in, it not only did not work, it also disabled the system, which meant that there was no way to ever shut it off unless they found the hacker who had the new code and could enter his fingerprint to access the system. Finn and Clarke were in disbelief. An invention that they thought would be revolutionary had turned deadly. At this point, all they could do was wait and hope that the police could find the missing piece to this puzzle- the hacker.
There was only one word to describe the streets of New York- chaotic. The robotic animals had taken over everything from Ralph’s Cafe to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In the iconic St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Tasmanian Tigers that Rachael had so badly wanted to see ravaged the statues and beautiful stained glass windows that lined the church. When they were alive, Tasmanian Tigers were very timid and could usually be captured without a fight (Facts About Tasmanian Tigers), however the robot tigers did not possess that characteristic, and would not give up without a fight. Meanwhile the zookeepers continued to terrorize the guests of the zoo. They threatened to feed them to the lions, throw them in the water with the Megalodon, or even place their robotic chips in them. One aspect that the scientists were particularly proud of was that each robot and a microscopic chip that allowed them to recover facts about any animal, however if it were placed in a human, their memory would be lost because it would be overcome with so much new information.
As the threatening robots continued to terrorize the zoo visitors, the police were getting closer to uncovering who the mystery hacker was. They watched surveillance video to see who entered the lab, but could not make out the face. After that they gathered and interviewed all of the scientists who had access to the laboratory. They searched each scientists computer and they all turned out clean. However, there was one scientist they could not interview because he had left the country. They went to the scientist’s wife who told them that she had just seen him early that morning and that she had no idea where he would have gone or why. The police then used a StingRay Tracking Device, which is a device that copies cell phone towers and sends out signals to trick cell phones in the area into transmitting their locations and identifying information (Stingray Tracking Devices: Who’s Got Them?) They used the cell phone number given to them by his wife and found that he was in London, England. Finn and Clarke were shocked to learn that the hacker was one of their close friends and colleagues, Dr. Hal Malone. Hal had worked closely with Finn and Clarke throughout their years at Columbia until they decided to complete this project without him. They decided that the zoo would be their main priority and that Hal had his family to worry about so he would not be able to devote enough time to the project. This angered Hal who so badly wanted to be involved. He pleaded to them to let him in on the project but they kindly told him that they needed his full time and devotion and they did not want to take a risk by including a person whose life did not focus on the zoo. They thought that there were no hard feelings as Dr. Malone had brought his two kids, Emma and Ryan, to the zoo many times in the month that it had been open, and he was always very friendly at work. Finn and Clarke always did feel guilty about not letting him on the project, but they were always reassured by the fact that it was what was best for everyone and everyone still remained close friends- or so they thought.
“We need to get him on a plane back to New York City right now,” the police chief declared, “if we do that we can get him here to enter the code to shut down the system.”
“Why can’t we just have the british authorities force him to give us the code? Then they could just call us and we could enter it ourselves,” another police officer suggested.
“Absolutely not,” Finn “he has access to the entire system so if we went with that plan, he could easily change the code again. Also, since the system is disabled we need his fingerprint to unlock it.”
“While the British authorities get him on a plane and back to the United States, we need to go back out into the community and help the people who are being terrorized by the animals and the people who are being held hostage by the zookeepers, they are still expecting the five million dollars to be transferred and we do not have much time until they will become impatient and start harming the hostages,” the police chief explained.
However, it turned out they had less time than they thought, the robots had already begun lining up the hostages, preparing them to be inserted with robotic chips that would clear their memory. Luckily, police arrived just in time which distracted the robots while the hostages ran and hid in another part of the zoo. The police were not entirely sure how to handle the robots since they had never dealt with them before. They decided that the most impact would come from their guns so they started shooting at them. Unfortunately, Finn and Clarke designed the robots with bullet proof material in an effort to preserve them. This angered the robots and they began to fight back. Until back-up came, the officers would have to fend for themselves.
Meanwhile, Dr. Malone was on his way back to the United States in a supersonic jet that cut the flight time from London from six hours to one. The animals were still terrorizing New York and he was the key to end the suffering. Eventually, he arrived and was escorted to the lab in a police car. He entered his fingerprints and the code. All of a sudden, the robot zookeepers shut off, the Woolly Mammoth terrorizing Tiffany’s fell, the Tasmanian Tigers in St. Patrick’s cathedral ceased their destruction, and everyone in New York could breathe a sigh of relief. The hostages quickly ran out of the zoo, relieved that they were all safe and that the madness is over.
“I can not believe you would do this,” Finn said, “we trusted you.”
“I know, and I am deeply sorry,” Dr. Malone regretfully admitted, “I was jealous that you were accomplishing so much and I could not be apart of it, I never meant for it to get this out of hand.”
“Save your excuses for the judge, you’re under arrest,” the police officer placed the handcuffs on him and put him in the police car.
In the months after the incident, the repairs to the city were completed and everything went back to normal. All robots, animals and zoo keepers, were destroyed and the entire system was shut down for good. Finn and Clarke had begun to do more experiments again, but nothing outside of the laboratory. The hostages were then invited to the laboratory as a thank you for their bravery and apology for putting them in danger. Most of them just looked around and were not too interested in what there was to see; however, three girls, Ciara, Rachael, and Mykaihla realized that they wanted to become renowned scientists also, except they wanted to work only with living animals only.
- The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Mammoth.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 11 Dec. 2019, www.britannica.com/animal/mammoth-extinct-mammal.
- “Facts About Tasmanian Tigers.” LiveScience, Purch, www.livescience.com/58753-tasmanian-tiger-facts.html.
- “Stingray Tracking Devices: Who’s Got Them?” American Civil Liberties Union, www.aclu.org/issues/privacy-technology/surveillance-technologies/stingray-tracking-devices-whos-got-them.