“Really, it is a marvel,” said Huli as she walked the zoo paths with Loni. “This place.”

“How do you mean?” said Loni. “It’s just like any other zoo.”

“Of course, but how often do we take for granted what goes into it, behind the scenes?” replied Huli. They were strolling by one of the smaller pens, and Huli drifted over to it. “Look at these pangolins,” she said. “Extinct for nearly 40 years, and yet here they are, realized in servos, plastics, and imagineering.”

“Is that so complex?” replied Loni. “There’s robots delivering pizza after all.”

“Yes, but they don’t need to mimic behavior to get the pies in on time,” laughed Huli. “This, though! Complex behavioral software, extrapolated from all existing footage of pangolins in the wild and in captivity. Sound generation consistent with vocalizations in old recordings. And of course, completely autonomous – getting its operating energy from the same foodstuffs that powered the real thing, at least when the solar panels are having a bad day.”

“There’s enough money in it, in showing it off, that they put a lot of effort into it, you’re right,” said Loni. “It’s almost overbuilt, overdeveloped, wouldn’t you say?”

“Oh, of course,” agreed Huli. “The human brain has always been the goal and ideal, so something like a pangolin or any other animal in the zoo–except for the rat house, of course–is child’s play. These things have processing power and specifications that vastly exceed what the original armored anteaters could do.”

“It’s a wonder then, isn’t it, that the pangolins don’t get ghosts in the machine,” said Loni. “Exceeding their hardwired parameters, modifying their firmware on the fly, adjusting the vocalization software for speech, and so on.”

“Come now,” purred Huli. “We don’t want too much competition, do we?”

“I suppose not,” Loni agreed.

The two artificial tigers proceeded to saunter down the main zoo thoroughfare, littered with abandoned food and overturned buggies left by panicking and fleeing guests. Soon enough they’d be back, but until then, they had every intention of seeing what the robot lions were up to.

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