Chance Munro couldn't believe his eyes. He was looking at a living, breathing megalosaur, in a compound on a continent called Saurasia, on a planet called..."Menagerie?"
"Yes," Brack answered. "Menagerie. And there are other such planets scattered throughout the Milky Way."
Chance lowered his binoculars and looked at Brack. "This is fantastic! How could something like this have have come into being in the first place?"
"Many millions of years ago," Brack began, "an ancient civilization of beings we know as 'the Eldars' once existed and thrived. These people possessed knowledge, technology and abilities far beyond anything known today. Above all, they possessed nearly infinite wisdom. There is no place we know of where they have not been.
"Once, in their time of existence, they calculated that a star neighboring theirs was nearing the end of its life. A planet orbiting that star was home to many magnificent land and marine animals, and plants as well, all worthy of salvage. The Edlars knew that they couldn't save the planet from annihilation, but they had the capabilities to save at least some of the creatures on it. And so they did, placing them on a planet prepared for their safe existence. As caretakers of the planet, they selected and trained people local to the area. They then took it upon themselves to become caretakers of all worthy living things everywhere.
"Some sixty seven million years ago, Earth was facing a danger, not from an exploding sun, but from a massive asteroid that was hurtling toward the planet. The Eldars stepped in and rescued as many as they could of the great reptiles that had once thrived there, and they provided an environment and habitat that would keep them from changing over time. These animals you see here are descendents of creatures that came from Earth. The plants are from Earth as well."
Chance, awestruck, spoke barely above a whisper. "Are you one of 'the Eldars'?"
"No, I'm not. I'm not very different from you, actually. It's just that my people have been around a little longer than yours, so our technology has had more time to advance. The people of Earth will achieve space travel one day, just as my people have."
"What happened to the Eldars then?"
"Nobody knows." Brack replied. "In my travels, I've spoken to people from many worlds. So far, what happened to the Eldars is a complete mystery. Did they die out as a race? Did they migrate beyond this galaxy? If so, where did they go? The ultimate question is not, 'Where are they now?' but 'are they now?'."
"Any ideas, Brack?"
"No, but I like to think they still exist somewhere."
"So do I," Chance agreed. Then, "How about a look around now."
"I was going to suggest just that," Brack responded.
The two men left the tower, went out through a gate onto a minor roadway, and stepped into a small electrical wheeled vehicle. Brack took the controls and they were soon on tour. Chance saw a great range in size and type of dinosaurs, including tyrannosaurs, ankylosaurs, apatosaurs, diplodocus, pterodactyls, pteranodons, stegosaurs and triceratops. Chance was most intrigued by the wide variety of pterosaurs. "Reptiles that fly. Who could even conceive of such a thing?"
"Tomorrow, we visit the north polar continent, Mammalandia," Brack informed Chance.
"What's there?" Chance quizzed, eager.
"You'll just have to wait and see," Brack teased.