20

Why There is No Animal World Cup

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We have noticed a lot of human interest around something called the World Cup. It is supposed to be the most watched sporting event in the world. We were a little confused at first. We call it soccer over here, but everyone else calls it football. Which kind of makes sense. A bunch of sweaty men play it with their feet.

After watching for a while, we noticed something interesting. The players use their feet and heads to move the ball. The only one who can use his hands is someone called a goal tender.

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This was the perfect game for animals! We have paws or hooves, not hands. So why wasn’t there an Animal World Cup?

We went to the source of all information, Google, and typed in “Animal World Cup.” The only thing there was a bunch of sweaty men playing soccer/football.

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We tried “Animal Soccer/Football” and got local youth leagues. “Professional Animal Soccer” got no results. How very strange.

We sent our reporter Freddie Ferret out to find out what was going on. Here’s what he uncovered:

Animals have always played a game similar to soccer. It was most popular in places with large fruit or vegetables that could be used as a ball. Players were ejected for eating the ball.

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The main rules were that players could only use their head and paws to move the ball. The “goalie” was allowed to use his entire body to stop the ball. The games would start at mid-afternoon and end at dusk.

For years, the animals played soccer uneventfully. However, one day the gorilla coach had an idea. His players had only been using their hind legs to play. Why not try using the front ones?

The idea was brilliant. The gorillas were unbeatable. The other animals sued to keep the gorillas from using their front paws.

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“That’s not fair! You’re using your opposable thumbs. You can hold onto the ball.”

“The rules say we can use paws. These are paws.”

The judges weren’t sure what to do. Technically, the gorillas were right; they were using their paws. Realistically, the other animals were right; opposable thumbs made the paws closer to hands.

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The judges went with the rules. The gorillas’ paws were allowed. However, they reminded the other animals that there was no rule about only having one species on a team.

Every team tried to get at least one gorilla to join them. Of course, there were not enough gorillas for all of the teams. So the teams tried to lure them with bananas, ants and other treats.

Chimpanzees and other animals with opposable thumbs were also in high demand.  Teams had to hide their prized players or another team would bribe them away.

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Soccer wasn’t fun anymore. All the focus was on the star players. Soon the other animals wanted to ban any player with opposable thumbs or force them to play in their own league.

Simians, pandas, koalas, and possums were outraged. They claimed species-ism. They all went back to court. This time the judges determined that there was no fair way to answer the question and banned all competitive soccer between adult animals.

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For a while, the animals grumbled and blamed each other. As time passed, they decided that the judges were right. They shouldn’t fight each other over a game.

It passed down from generation to generation that animals only played soccer for fun. Before long, it wasn’t questioned. It just was.

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All pictures courtesy of Google Images

(For the record, the trophy for the winner of the World Cup looks nothing like a Cup.)

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8

On Dragons, By Dragons (Part 2)

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So far: Donnie Dragon asked his father why people don’t believe that dragons exist. His father is explaining how they became invisible. Part 1 is here.

The next night, Donnie asked his father to continue his story.

For many years, the dragons thought they had a safe home in Asia. Then they noticed something.

Every time a dragon was sick, a crowd of people appeared. If the dragon recovered, they went home. If the dragon died, a few people would wait for the bones to turn to ash and collect them.

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The humans believed that the bones had special powers they could use. The dragons were offended that they could not mourn in private. The dragons were angry, but the people would not stop.

Things were different in the West. For some reason, those people decided that we were evil from the beginning. It may have been the result of a couple of unfortunate incidents in England.

First, a sick dragon was flying home. He sneezed and accidentally set a village on fire. The humans decided that it was intentional, and dragons could not be trusted.

Then a young male dragon fell in love with a beautiful human girl. He took her to his lair against her will. Her father killed the dragon and took his daughter home.

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It was a huge scandal. The humans used the event as more proof that dragons could not be trusted. The dragons were angry that the humans killed one of them without asking why it happened.

The stories spread from one human village to another. With each telling, the story got worse. Eventually, people believed that the dragon had come down from his lair and set the village on fire. In the confusion, he had kidnapped all the young women and took them home to eat. Only the courage of one man had saved them.

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Donnie interrupted his father.

Donnie: But we don’t eat humans. Mama says they’re too fatty and not good for us.

Dad: I know. But it was too late to reason with them.

He continued the story.Image result for medieval village

Every time someone disappeared from a village, it was blamed on the dragons. We moved further and further away, but it was always the same story.

Some “brave” human would track down a dragon, lure the dragon close, and put a spear through his throat. Then the human would cut off the tail (no bones) and take it home. They never brought back the missing person because they “had arrived just as the dragon finished eating.”

The dragons sent a representative to town. He was trying to straighten out the situation. But as soon as he landed, he was attacked. He barely escaped with his life.

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A bookseller created a warning sign for the dragons to put at the entrance to their lairs, but it didn’t do any good. It was written in English, but the villagers couldn’t read.

Donnie: What’s ketchup?

Dad: I’m not sure. I think it’s a sauce to make humans taste better.

The dragons left for a place called Wales. Those people were much friendlier to them. But the situation was not good. The dragons were afraid all the time.

The Western dragons and Eastern dragons met high in the mountains of Asia. They decided that there was probably no way to repair the relationship with the humans.

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Because dragons are generally peace-loving creatures, they tried to find a non-violent solution. They looked through the Book of Spells. Finally, they found one that would make them invisible.

Some of the Eastern dragons weren’t happy with the solution. They had human friends they would have to leave. But there was no other answer.

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The dragons decided that they would all live together in those mountains. And here we are.

Donnie:  Do you think the humans will ever be able to see us again?

Dad: I’m afraid not. The spell can’t be reversed.

Donnie: That’s good. I don’t want to set someone on fire just to keep my tail.

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10

On Dragons, By Dragons (Part 1)

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Donnie Dragon came home from school and found his father working on the garden.

Dad: How was school today?

Donnie: Okay.

Dad: Did you learn anything interesting?

Donnie: Sorta. We learned that humans don’t believe in dragons. Why don’t they believe in us?

Dad: I guess because we’re invisible.

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Donnie: But we weren’t always invisible. Great-grandpa said that he knew a human.

Dad: Dragons live a long time. Much longer than humans. My grandpa’s human friend has been dead for a very, very long time.

Donnie: But people wrote about dragons. Why don’t they believe that?

Dad: Humans are strange creatures. If they can’t find evidence that something existed, they don’t believe it did. They think their ancestors made up the stories to explain something they didn’t understand.

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Donnie: Is that why they believe in dinosaurs?

Dad: Yes; there are many bones left from dinosaurs. But our bones turn to ash when we die. It’s in their dirt, but they don’t know it.

Donnie: So, they don’t know that we were alive then or that we are still around?

Dad: That’s right.

Donnie: Why can’t they see us?

Dad: We had to become invisible, so they didn’t destroy us all.

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He began to tell the story of dragons and the humans to Donnie at bedtime.

A long, long time ago, dragons lived in almost everywhere in Europe and Asia. There were thousands of us. And many varieties. Some even lived on the ground. There were no humans at the beginning.

When the humans arrived, we were afraid that they were going to start bothering us. Sure enough, the ground dragons were hunted as food.

The survivors climbed the mountains where it was safer. They started marrying the flying dragons, and the land dragons disappeared.

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More and more humans appeared. They respected us and left us alone. But they were curious and soon wanted to learn more.

They started to climb the hills and mountains to look in our caves. They even took some of our children to study.

The fire-breathers were safer than the others, so we developed into one fire-breathing species. The humans continued to be interested in us.

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The interest was different in the East than it was in the West. Unfortunately, both ended badly for us.

In China and East Asia, we were highly respected. They understood our control of water and our strength. The Emperors used us as a symbol of power.

Dragons and humans lived peacefully together for a long time.

Dad looked over and saw that Donnie had fallen asleep. The rest of the story was for another night.

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To be continued.

Pictures courtesy of Google Images

15

Cheeseland Police Blotter

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Like every other community, we have some crime here in Cheeseland. Below is a summary of what happened during the week ending April, 27, 2018. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty.

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Gorilla charged with assault. Alice G., a mountain gorilla, was dining alone when she saw a giant banana walking toward a table. “It just looked too delicious to ignore,” Alice reported. Allegedly, Alice walked over to the banana and tried to peel it. Unfortunately, the “banana” turned out to be an actor auditioning for a part in a commercial. The actor thought he would impress the director by appearing in costume. Alice has a court date on May 11. No word on whether the actor got the part.

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Raccoon charged with breaking and entering. Rocky, a neighborhood raccoon, was walking down the street when he smelled a delicious aroma. “It smelled just like my wife’s stew,” according to Rocky. Entranced by the smell, Rocky allegedly jumped in the window and sat at the kitchen table. In his rush, Rocky knocked over three plants and a television. Unfortunately, Rocky also didn’t notice that he wasn’t entering his own house. The owner said that Rocky had made the same mistake on two other occasions, and this time they were going to press charges. Rocky has a court date on May 8.

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Koala charged with driving under the influence. Danny K., a koala bear from nearby Critter Cove, was stopped by the police for weaving in and out of his lane while he was driving. When he got out of the car, police allegedly smelled eucalyptus on his breath. “Hey. No worries; it all natural,” Danny is reported to have told the police. The police took away his keys and drove him home. Danny has a court date on May 10 and faces the possibility of losing his license.

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Cat charged with trespassing. Oscar C., a large Maine Coon, was out for a walk on a hot day when he became extremely tired. Being an exceptionally furry cat, he looked for a shady place to nap.  Oscar found what he says he thought was an abandoned tree house. He woke up to hissing and spitting from the feline owners of the house. Currently there is a restraining order keeping Oscar at least two blocks from the tree house.

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Magpie charged with theft. Maggie M., part of the notorious Henry Magpie crime family, is accused of breaking into several houses and stealing jewelry. Maggie does not deny that she took the jewelry. She is claiming that, as a magpie, she is naturally drawn to shiny things. Maggie has used this defense successfully on several occasions. Prosecutors are requesting a hearing before a judge rather than a trial by her peers.

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Donkeys charged with creating a public disturbance. Joe and Jack, two donkey brothers, went to a theater to see the latest Superhog movie, a comedy about pigs pretending to be superheroes. The brothers sat in the last row of the theater and munched loudly on their straw salads. Once the movie started, the brothers began to bray and talk to each other. One patron said she couldn’t even hear the movie over the braying. After several requests to quiet down, the ushers escorted the donkeys out of the theater. The donkeys protested that braying is how donkeys laugh. One patron has filed a complaint against the brothers. They have a date with an administrative law judge on May 18.

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Parrots charged with using profanity in public.  A group of parrots were enjoying a day at the park. It was a beautiful day and the park was crowded. A small squirrel ran up to her parents and asked what *&#@# meant. The parents were appalled and asked her where she heard such language. She pointed at the parrots. The squirrels went to the park ranger who told the parrots that they couldn’t use that language in the park. Allegedly the parrots told the ranger that they had learned the words from the humans. The ranger told them it didn’t matter where they learned the words, they had to leave. She also gave them a citation with a court date of May 4.

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all pictures courtesy of Google Images

11

Sharks Protest Human Stereotypes

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Our correspondent, Maurice Mako, is off the coast of Australia attending the annual Sharkmania Festival. The festival is a celebration of all things shark. All types of sharks are welcome. Intermingling between sub-species is encouraged. However, there is a rule against eating or intimidating fellow attendees. Even if he takes the last shrimp canape that you had your eye on.

Maurice filed this report:

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As usual, the attendees are having a wonderful time. Much of the early part of the day is spent in seminars and roundtables with the evenings being reserved for socialization. Some of the more popular presentations have been:

Oral Hygiene: Just Because You Can Replace Your Teeth Doesn’t Mean You Should Abuse the Privilege

Following the Scent of Blood Doesn’t Always Lead to a Tasty Meal

Standardized Testing: Don’t Worry if Your Child Doesn’t Score Well on the Shark Intelligence Metric (SIM)

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However, there was one seminar that was full to overflowing and the topic of extensive conversation at the dinner tables. The Preservation of Shark Society presented the provocatively titled

Why are Humans So Ignorant About Sharks After All these Years?

The talk addressed three major topics:

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Sharks are bloodthirsty predators who seek out humans to kill them.

Totally untrue. There are more than 400 types of sharks. Do humans focus on that? No! All they want to talk about are the great whites and hammerheads. And do they ever talk about invading our space? No!

How many of them ever focus on the dwarf lantern shark? Only 21 cm long. Or how about the whale shark? Forty feet long and only eats plankton.

Besides, who would want to hunt down a human anyway? Most of them are fatty and full of unhealthy chemicals. Anyway, we’re seafood lovers.

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Sharks are stupid.

If we’re so stupid, why are they worried about us catching and killing them?

Shark brains are size-appropriate to the shark. Their favorite shark, the great white, has a brain that’s two feet long and extremely well-developed.

It’s true that shark brains mainly focus on smell, but that’s what important to us. It’s how we find food and keep from being food.

And which species spends a LOT of time in front of a box full of make-believe humans rather than enjoying their environment? Clue: not the sharks.

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Sharks have to keep moving to stay alive.

Nope. Most of us have cheek muscles we use to filter water into our mouths and over our gills. We are not as good as humans at being “couch potatoes.” (We don’t have couches or boxes of humans to watch.)

The humans may be confused by the “glamour sharks.” Their favorite great whites, the whale shark, and the mako sharks as well as a few others do have to move to pass water over their gills.

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Humans need to get to know us to love us!

And how to we do that? We make pictures to go into those boxes the people spend so much time with!

Our next project is to find out how to be as interesting as those fake people or kittens.

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pictures courtesy of Google Images

17

Happy Easter Billy Bilby!

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We’d like to introduce you to a special animal, the Easter Bilby. He’s a celebrity in Australia although he may be less known by some of you. The Easter Bilby is busy this time of year, so we’re going to talk to a close friend.

Billy Bilby, welcome to Cheeseland. Thank you for taking the time to introduce us to the Easter Bilby.

No worries, I’m happy to be here and spread the word about the Easter Bilby. After all, we bilbies are having a problem with our population declining and want people to be aware that we even exist.

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On that note, can you tell us a little bit about bilbies?

We’re small, furry marsupials who live in the desert. Our bodies are about 55 cm/22 inches long and our tails about 29 cm/11.5 inches. We weigh about 2.5 kg/5.5 pounds. We have long noses (excellent sense of smell) and large ears (excellent sense of hearing and help keep us cool). The ladies are about half the size of the gents.

We have extremely soft fur that is mainly blue-grey with white tummies. Bilbies live in fancy burrows. We only come out and night and will eat anything.

Two fun facts about bilbies?

The word bilby is from the Aboriginal Yuwaalaraay language. (I wouldn’t try to pronounce it unless you belong to the group.)

We don’t drink water. We get all we need from what we eat.  (Like koalas)

So how did the Easter Bilby replace the Easter Rabbit in Australia?

Unfortunately, rabbits are not very popular in Australia. They were brought in by the Brits in the 19th century and reproduced until they had taken over the country. Rabbits drove some of the native animals and plants to extinction.

In the 1990’s, the humans decided that the rabbit had to go as the symbol of Easter. They wanted something native to replace it. Since we look something like a rabbit (ears only), we got the job. We’ve been around Australia for a very long time.

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And the tradition has stuck.

Yes, but we’ve lost the association with the anti-rabbit people. Now it’s more of a survival issue. You see, we’re endangered in some parts of Australia and vulnerable in others.

That’s awful. What happened?

The usual: loss of habitat, hunting. I am actually a Greater Bilby. There used to be Lesser Bilbies, but they died out about 70 years ago. (Unless the humans lost them.)

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Is the Easter Bilby tradition working?

It seems to be. There is much greater awareness of who we are and why we are important residents of Australia. In fact, The Commonwealth of Australian Endangered Species Program has chosen us as a mascot, so we’re becoming famous.

They have even started to introduce populations of us into places that haven’t seen bilbies in a very long time. Did you know that we once populated 70% of Australia? And that’s a big place!

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What does the Easter Bilby do?

Pretty much what the Easter Bunny does. Except he delivers chocolate bilbies instead of chocolate rabbits. And he runs rather than hops.

Do you think the idea of the Easter Bilby will spread?

Probably not. The rabbits pretty much have a lock on the market. But that’s OK. We only live in Australia and want to continue living here for a very long time. We have no plans to invade Britain.

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

I’m happy to share.

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Trivia – In March 1968, 9-year-old Rose-Marie Dusting wrote “Billy the Aussie Easter Bilby.” She published it 11 years later.

Sales Pitch: Chocolate bilbies are produced by Pink Lady and Haigh’s Chocolates. (Cadbury pulled out of the market shortly before Easter.) The companies give a percentage of sales to conservation efforts. Pink Lady parent company, Fyna Foods manufactures chocolate bilbies as part of the Australian Bush Friends Easter chocolates. A percentage of the Bush Friends sales is also donated to the Save the Bilby Fund.

 

8

Why We Don’t See the Easter Bunny – Part 2

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Previously – Gunnar, a current descendant of the original Easter Bunny (a real bunny), has decided to see what was happening with Easter now that the family has outsourced most of it to the humans. So far, he is not happy. He is going to see the Easter Bunny at the mall for an explanation.

Gunnar arrived at the mall. He had never seen such a thing. The mall was huge. And full of humans. Rather scary for a small rabbit. He hopped past all the signs for Easter sales. They were on almost every window: clothing stores, technology stores, mattress stores, perfume shops. Do people really give each other mattresses for Easter?

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He finally found a sign for the Easter Bunny. He saw a large group of people lined up before a throne. On the throne was a creature in some kind of costume with large ears and fake whiskers. There was a sign next to him that said “Easter Bunny”.

“Oh my carrots, is that what the humans think the Easter Bunny looks like?” wondered Gunnar. “That’s not even a rabbit.” He got as close to the line as he could without being seen. He wanted to hear what the humans thought of the fake rabbit.

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“Mommy, is that the real Easter Bunny?”

“Of course he is.”

“Is he going to bring me a basket with toys?”

“Yes, dear. On Easter morning.”                                                                           

Gunnar moved along the line.

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“Mama, he looks kind of scary. I didn’t think he’d be so big.”

“That’s OK. He’s actually very friendly.”

“Do I tell him what I want for Easter?”

“I don’t think that’s the way it works. We’re here to have your picture taken with him. Grandma wants to show it to her friends.”

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Gunnar thought about it. People were standing in line to take pictures of their children with a big, scary fake rabbit. Humans were very strange.

Then he heard a grumbling at the front of the line. Hopping up he saw a sign, “The Easter Bunny will be taking a short break. His assistants are available if you have any questions about the photo packages. No personal checks.”

Gunnar went behind the screen to see if he could talk to the “Easter Bunny.” He heard voices from a small room. Gunnar was speechless. The man in the costume had taken off the head. He was unshaven and didn’t even look clean.

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Gunnar wrinkled his nose. The man didn’t smell clean either. And he reeked of cigarettes. Gunnar listened.

“Whoever designed this thing should have to wear it for a while. It’s hot,” smelly and I can’t even see out of the eyes.”

Gunnar wanted to tell the man why the costume smelled, but continued to listen.

“I need to go outside for a cigarette.”

“You know the rules. No leaving this room without the head.”

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“I can’t smoke with the head on.”

“That’s OK. The Easter Bunny doesn’t smoke. Besides, it’s time to go back out.”

“Great. The next kid that tries to rip off my head is going on the floor.”

“Eddie, you can’t do that. No hurting the children.”

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“Fine. But the next one that pees on me is going back to Mom.”

“That’s why we got you the plastic sheet to go under the blanket on your lap.”

“The talent agency never told me what a miserable job this is.”

Gunnar left without talking to the man. How could someone who didn’t like children pretend to be the Easter Bunny? And who would believe that disgusting man was really the Easter Bunny?

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As he was leaving the area, Gunnar noticed a sign, “Brunch with the Easter Bunny.” It had a picture of the same rabbit imposter who was on the throne. “What a disgusting idea,” Gunnar thought.

Depressed, Gunnar returned to the forest. He poured himself a large glass of carrot juice and thought for a while. His relatives had made a huge mistake. The humans had changed the idea of the Easter Bunny almost beyond recognition.

“I wonder who I call to give the humans responsibility for the rest of the Easter goodies.”

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