A woman with short-cropped blonde hair toured me through the upper level of an abandoned brick building, which had been transformed into a large apartment of sorts, with one expansive room that sunk a level into the floor with stairs leading down.
"We had to re-create the frogs' natural environment in order for them to survive," she was saying, leading me down into the lowered area. "We imported their native soil and water. The fungus should not reach them here." As she spoke, the room began filling with water. It swelled my chin and crept up over my mouth and nostrils. "The frogs are quite picky," she said, disappearing inconspicuously. A loose cloud of small fish approached; retreated among the ribbons of light. The underwater room lost its borders; my feet sank gently into the sand floor. I had not yet seen the frogs, though I understood them to be elusive. I did see a large black fish with fins so feathery it looked like a billowing garbage bag, moving with purpose.
I climbed the staircase out of the underwater room and was confronted by a six-foot-long monitor lizard, leathery pouch of a throat swelling and constricting. He bounded up to me and I thought plainly that I finally understood people who fear large, excited dogs. My body kept cringing away, which interested the lizard more, his head tilted and curious. "That's Jeremy, he won't hurt you," said the blonde's voice. Jeremy's tongue extended two feet in front of him, a rope of bubble-gum tipped in black, and sucked back into the small, handsome arch at the center of his snout. I still did not quite trust Jeremy.