Now 17 years old, Walter was born in San Lazaro Zoo and knows no other home. His parents died two years previously due to a bacterial infection. He was always an intelligent chimp, even before the Awakening. When that occurred, Walter realised he could understand human speech; this and his other new abilities are steadily developing. Before he could learn much more, however, the humans abandoned the zoo. Walter’s cage was left unlocked and he has spent recent days freeing animals. He doesn’t understand the crisis but he knows the animals will die unless they start fending for themselves.
Walter is an average-sized chimpanzee with all the intelligence, strength and agility of his species. By nature, he is curious and friendly. He is especially curious about the occasional voices in his head. Walter took his name from the nametag in the ‘I <heart> New Amsterdam’ t-shirt he has taken to wearing. Walter is the best communicator in the group but is easily distracted. Even so, Jugger relies on him to a great degree.
12 years old, Jugger was brought to San Lazaro Zoo by the International Animal Preservation Organisation for her own protection. During an attack by poachers, her parents were killed and her ivory tusks removed. Fortunately, Jugger survived and she was transported to the United States. Thanks to her many interactions with humans she was already relatively intelligent before the Awakening.
Even for an elephant, Jugger is unusually large. Her tusks have been replaced with mechanical versions that add to her strength and can generate an electrical current to stun enemies. The plan was for her to use these for self-defense when returned to the wild. In her newly-advanced state, Jugger can understand some human speech and her fellow animals. She has become their leader because of her stable, sympathetic and patient nature. She sometimes relies on Walter to communicate but most key decisions rest with her.
Ten-year-old Bob was captured in the wild in order to prevent the extinction of his species. His two siblings were caught at the same time but transferred to other zoos. Because of the rarity of his kind, he was one of the main attractions at San Lazaro Zoo. After his right front leg was caught in a hunter’s trap, it had to be amputated. The limb was replaced by a mechanical version which adds to both strength and dexterity.
Bob chose his name on account of his handler. The Awakening has augmented his intellect and he is now more able to fully exploit his mechanical leg. He greatly enjoys the freedom he has longed for since his capture, though he harbors no resentment towards his handlers. Bob is not aggressive towards his fellow animals but a mysterious and powerful drive compels him to attack Cyms whenever he sees them.
Now 5 years old, Howl was brought to San Lazaro Zoo six months ago after his pack was attacked by hunters. Though he lost his sight, he was rescued by local conservationists protecting the gray wolf population of Lazaro state re-established in the 2020s. Howl was scheduled for release but the outbreak ruined his chances of returning to the wild.
Howl is a large male who has benefited from advanced medical intervention, including facial reconstruction and a sophisticated heart monitor. His ruined eyes have been replaced with cybernetic versions that allow him to see great distances and very well in darkness. Since the Awakening, he’s come to consider the animals as his pack. He can be distrusting of strangers, perhaps due to traumatic memories of the hunter attack.
Athena is a fifteen-year-old bald eagle of average size. Her species has suffered terribly from the effects of pollution and hunting and numbers were at an all-time low. However, the species’ status and popularity as the national bird resulted in the creation of the Save our Eagles group. Ten years ago, this charitable organisation found a near-dead Athena and nursed her back to health. It is believed that she had clashed with hunters and suffered damage to her lower legs and claws.
There was a positive outcome, however: cybernetic legs and claws that provide extra strength and grip. Unsurprisingly, Athena is the eyes and ears of the animal group and her ability to stay aloft for hours and observe their surroundings is greatly valued. Though she in turn values her new friends, Athena is a loner who is happiest when soaring high above the ground. She has spent almost a decade at San Lazaro Zoo. Her name was given to her by her keeper, and refers to both her regal appearance and fighting spirit.
Jane is 16 years old and the only one of the animals not originally from San Lazaro Zoo. When she contracted kidney cancer several years previously, her wealthy owner had her brain transplanted into a mechanical body. Shortly after the crisis began, Jane’s owner left one day and never returned. She wandered the streets and soon met Walter and the other animals. Jane is named after her owner’s daughter, who died many years previously of liver cancer.
Though average in terms of size, Jane is virtually unique due to the mechanical body created for her by BioSyn Labs, which specializes in synthetic parts for gravely injured animals. Due to her unusual frame, Jane is extremely tough and can survive impacts that would kill a normal cat. The synthetic body is also able to repair itself and covered by a resilient but soft material. Additionally, Jane is unusually agile and her augmented senses provide a great awareness of her surroundings. She is able to eat food, which her system transforms into energy. Jane is as curious and adventurous as most cats but she combines this with a friendliness more often seen in dogs.