"D id you hear about the pet store down the block?” Gavri’s mother asked during supper. “I saw a police car in front this afternoon, and someone said the store’s getting closed down by the police.”

“Closed by the police?!” Gavri’s older brother Shoely wanted to know. “What does that mean!?”

“Someone said that they illegally import rare and exotic animals,” Mrs. Rapaport explained, “even endangered ones. The police finally got enough evidence to arrest the owners. The arrest was also because they keep the animals under terrible conditions. The owners just don’t care.”

“That’s terrible!” Suri looked like she as going to cry. “I feel terrible for those animals!”

The baby, Rosie, echoed, “Tewible!”

Gavri thought that to rob an animal of its home was bad enough, but to subject it to mean conditions was worse.

“I’m glad they closed them down!” Suri huffed. “I don’t care if some guy wants a black mamba snake or something, let him get a gerbil instead! Each animal should get to stay where Hashem put it to live. Don’t you agree, Ta?”

“Well,” said Mr. Rapaport, “I like seeing lions in the zoo, even though they don’t belong in North America, but I agree with you, Suri, that those guys should be out of business.”

As they cleared the table, Gavri whispered to Shoely, “I wish now that I’d gone in while the place was open. I had no idea they had such exciting animals!” Shoely smirked and nodded in reply.

“One more thing, boys,” Mr. Rapaport called. “Help me unload the car.” They all went out into the chilly night. Mr. Rapaport liked to shop in bulk, which made the van look like a delivery truck. Both boys lugged in cases of seltzer, grape juice, and a crate of oranges, and stashed them in the garage. Shoely grabbed a snack bag from the 48-bag box as he went off to do his homework.

“I saw you!” Gavri hissed, then took one also, before following Shoely up to their room.

In the morning, Gavri was on his way down the basement steps to get another snack bag when he saw something moving in the dimness. “Shoely!” he yelled. “Look what’s in the garage!”

Shoely stopped in his tracks when he saw it. “What is it?! A salamander?”

“Salamander? I was thinking gecko.”

“No way — he doesn’t look like that guy in the car insurance ads. I say salamander. Moishe had one last year and this looks just like it.” He put it gently into his palm and went to the kitchen to show his mother.

“Wow, that got into the garage?” She gave it an unwelcoming look.

“Can we keep it? Pleeease?!” (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 681)