14

Ellie Alligator, Exchange Student

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Swampland High School in the Everglades has started a student exchange program with Great Lakes Academy on the western shore of Lake Michigan. The program is 6 months long – July – December. Below are selected entries on the school’s blog. 

July 1 – Hey Fellow Swampies, It’s me, the Elinator. That’s right, it’s Ellie N. Alligator with her first report from sunny Michigan. I’m so glad you elected me as the first exchange student in our new program. The flight up here was a little scary. Can you believe they were going to make me fly cargo because some family of sheep felt threatened? Like I was a savage or something. I had to sit way at the back, but at least I was inside.

Anyway, I’m staying with the Stones. They’re really nice, but they’re Turtles! I knew there weren’t any alligator families up here, but I didn’t know there really aren’t many big reptiles at all. A few iguanas but that’s about it. These turtles aren’t big enough to eat the kind of food I eat. Mrs. Stone said we’d figure something out. Gotta go. They’re going to show me around Manistee.

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 July 15 – Michigan is so weird! Remember how we decided that this would be a good place to exchange students with because it’s hot and humid part of the year? They think 85 degrees is hot. I mean, it’s pleasant but what’s going to happen when it cools down? And the big lake that we all thought would be fun. Flash – it’s cold water! And it has a cool breeze coming off it. that kind of ruins the hot and humid. It’s really nice basking in the sun, but this is not what I expected.

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August 8 – I just found out about my classmates when school starts. The place is full of mammals. I mean the biggest collection of furry creatures I’ve ever seen. There are beavers, skunks, lynx, and even a couple of bears. Bears around here are big! If the bears are regular students, no one better tell me I’m scary. We toured the school. It’s all inside, can you believe it? They said it was because the weather gets cool and wet. And then it snows. How am I supposed to store up energy? Apparently that’s not a problem for furry animals. I’m starting to get a bad feeling about this.

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September 12 – I am not having fun on this trip. The other animals are really nice to me, but I miss all of you. No one speaks Gator up here, so I’m always trying to find the right thing to say. And the teachers won’t give me enough time to get from one class to another. They say that I could move faster if I wanted to. I tried to tell them that we only run if we’re chasing food, but they don’t care. Maybe I should pretend they’re some kind of delicacy. Just have to remember it’s a game before I eat them.

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October 30 – It is cold here. I can barely move most of the time. Both the Stones and the school have bought me heat lamps. I know they’re doing the best they can, but this is no place for alligators. If they turn the heat up high enough for me, everyone else is too warm. I saw something called a sweater in a catalog. They’re made out of wool or fake wool, and you wear them to keep warm. I wonder if they come in alligator sizes?

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November 20 – Remember how we all thought it would be fun to see snow? It isn’t. It’s cold and wet and disgusting. And there’s a lot of it. It’s been higher than me since the first time it came down. All of the mammals love it. They can run around and play in it. I sit under my heat lamp and shiver. I want to know who did the research on this place. I am never coming back.

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December 5 – I’m back!! The people in Michigan felt so sorry for me that they let me come home a month early and still earn full credit. I’ve been in the swamp for 3 days and am finally beginning to feel normal again. It is so nice to be able to go out and lay in the sun. I’m surprised my tail didn’t freeze off up there. Gotta go. I still need a lot of sun to get my old energy back.

Advice: Michigan is nice to visit, but two weeks is definitely enough time to do everything that might interest an alligator.

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Pictures courtesy of Google Images

 

9

Santa Claws and the New Delivery System

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Santa Claws was not a happy cat. It was three days before Christmas and his new Christmas route had not been finalized. He hated the new system.

Santa: Fluffy, my pet, why did they have to change my schedule now?

Mrs. Claws: You know very well what happened. That new employee you haired got everyone stirred up about working too hard, so we had to outsource some of the work to elves in other parts of the world.

Santa: I am never hiring another weasel. He has been nothing but trouble. Where is Mortimer anyway?

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Mrs. Claws: I’m not sure. The last time I saw him he was offering to get Mindy Mink some cocoa.

Santa (laughing): I wonder if he knows her boyfriend is a wolverine.

Mrs. Claws: I’m sure he’ll find out soon enough,

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Sant texted Mortimer. A few minutes later he was in the office.

Santa: Where is my schedule?

Mortimer: Don’t worry, you’ll get it.

Santa (growling): I want it now.

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Mortimer: It’s not ready.

Santa: What do you mean it’s not ready? Christmas Eve is in two days.

Mortimer: I know! I know!

Santa: When will it be ready?

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Mortimer hesitated.

Santa: Well?

Mortimer: There’s been a little glitch.

Santa: What kind of glitch?

Mortimer: Well, the team in Guam has had a lot of absences and their toys aren’t ready.

Santa: What do you mean they’re not ready?

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Mortimer: Um, the stuffed mice and treats are ready, but the crinkly tunnels and special cat beds are still being worked on.

Santa: WHAT? That’s a disaster! What are you going to do about it?

Mortimer: What do you mean me? I’m not an elf. I’m staff, like all the other non-felines.

Santa: You’re going to be staff clearing ice off the compound if you can’t fix this.

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Mortimer: OK! Take it easy! Don’t get your fur in a hairball. I’ll see what I can do.

Santa: When you told me about your stupid plan, I said it wouldn’t work.

Mortimer: It’s not a stupid plan. It’s brilliant. We have workshops all over the world. All you have to do is drop by to pick up the toys for that area. No more lugging everything all over the world.

Santa: I said that we needed to have everything here so it could be sorted and put in the right order. It’s a magic bag, remember? It doesn’t require lugging. Now look at the mess you’ve made. We’ll have crying kittens all everywhere. My reputation will be ruined.

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Santa Claws arched his back and began to growl. Mortimer looked at the door.

Mrs. Claws: I think you need to leave now, Mortimer.

Mortimer was out the door before she finished.

Mrs. Claws: Don’t worry. We’ll think of something.

Santa continued to hiss and growl.

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Coming up: Will Mrs. Claws be able to save Christmas for the kittens?

 

All pictures courtesy of Google Images.

10

Halber Home for Traumatized Turkeys – Part 2

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Where we are: Three pigs have come to Halber Home looking for refuge from being made into hams. Mrs. Thomas, the administrator, has called a meeting with several other turkeys to see what they think. You can access part 1 from the Recent Posts at the right.

Mrs. Thomas asked Suzy and Larry, counselors at the home. She also invited two of the long-term residents, Charlie and Howard.

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Mrs. Thomas: Thank you all for coming. We have a situation I need your help with. A little while ago, three pigs showed up who need sanctuary. They are in danger from their human.

Howard: Why can’t they stay with their own kind? We don’t have any pigs here.

Mrs. Thomas: There aren’t any pig facilities around here.

Suzy: How long would they be here? This isn’t a permanent arrangement, is it?

Mrs. Thomas: Oh, no. They will be moving south in less than a week.

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Howard: Why can’t they stay where they were? No one eats fresh pig on Thanksgiving.

Mrs. Thomas: They’re going to be turned into hams for Easter.

Suzy: That’s awful. We should find some way to help them.

Larry: We definitely can’t just send them back out on the road.

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Charlie: I’d feel like I killed them myself.

Howard starts to get agitated. He knows that they should help the pigs, but he’s terrified of strangers.

Howard: That’s ridiculous. We all found our way here.

Mrs. Thomas: That’s my point. They found their way here too.

Larry: And our sign does say that everyone is welcome.

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Howard: It’s written in Turkey. That should tell them who’s welcome here.

Larry: Howard, please calm down. You know we want to keep everyone safe and comfortable. That’s why we’re meeting. Mrs. Thomas wants your input.

Charlie: Please don’t be mean, Howard. We all needed help when we got here.

Howard: But we’re all turkeys!

Suzy: Howard, are you afraid of the pigs?

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Howard: They might eat me.

Mrs. Thomas: We won’t let them eat you.

Howard: What if they chase me down? They eat anything.

Larry (trying not to laugh): Do you know what pigs look like? They’d never catch you .

Howard: Are you sure?

Larry: Trust me.

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Howard: What if they come after me while I’m sleeping?

The others realized that Howard was not going to feel safe with the pigs around. Everyone was quiet for a few minutes.

Charlie: I’ve got an idea. Do you remember that big yard we had for turkeys who were too traumatized to be with the general public when they first got here?

Mrs. Thomas: You mean the one we put up before we had counselors on-site?

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Charlie: Yes. Is it still there? Could we use it?

Howard: I’m not going to be locked away because of some stupid pigs.

Charlie: Not for us. For them. Then we wouldn’t have to worry about them roaming around at night with hatchets.

Suzy: That’s a great idea! What do you think, Mrs. Thomas?

Mrs. Thomas: Yes. I think that would work. We don’t use it for anything else. What do you think, Howard?

Howard: I guess that would be OK. They’re only staying a few days, right?

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Mrs. Thomas: Yes. They are just waiting to hear from the woman’s family.

Howard: OK. They can stay if they don’t leave the pen until they’re ready to go.

The rest of the turkeys were relieved. They did not want to put the pigs in danger.

Mrs. Thomas went to the pigs and explained what had happened. They were thrilled with the outcome. They were used to being fenced in, and they would be safe.

Junior: That’s wonderful! Please thank the other turkeys for us.

Penny: Yes. We don’t know what we would have done without all of you.

The pigs stayed for four days before they got the directions South. When they arrived, they sent a letter telling the turkeys that they were safe and thanked them one more time.

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All pictures courtesy of Google Images

12

Halber Home for Traumatized Turkeys

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It’s the busiest time of the year at the Halber Home for Traumatized Turkeys. Not only did severe anxiety and panic attacks frequently occur around Thanksgiving, but the population always increased substantially. Most of the residents only stayed a short time, until they were reunited with family, but others had no other place to go.

The home itself was actually acres and acres of woods where the turkeys could roam peacefully and forget about friends and relatives who gave their lives in the name of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for the humans. Some had barely escaped the same fate, while others only knew that they had lost loved ones at this time of the year.

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Mrs. Thomas, who ran the home, welcomed each resident as they arrived, telling them the rules of the house:

  1. Everyone is welcome.
  2. You can stay as long as you’d like.
  3. No relating horror stories, except with trained staff.
  4. No talking about other residents behind their backs.

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Mrs. Thomas was standing at the entryway when three pigs approached her.

Pig: Hello. My name is Herman. This is Penny and Junior. We’re hoping you can help us.

Mrs. Thomas: Well, I’ll certainly try. What’s the problem?

Herman: We thought we were living with a very kind man. He let us stay in a nice barn and fed us well.

Junior broke in.

Junior: But he was just fattening us up. He’s going to send us out to be smoked as hams for next Easter.

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Mrs. Thomas: My goodness! Are you sure?

Penny: Absolutely. I heard him on the phone. He thinks we’re just dumb animals who don’t understand anything. But he’s wrong.

Mrs. Thomas: That’s terrible. How can I help? I don’t know any pig sanctuaries.

Junior (hesitantly): We thought that maybe we could stay here for a while. Penny has some relatives down South, but it will take a while to make arrangements. And we don’t have any time. We’ve heard that everyone is welcome. We were hoping that includes pigs.

Penny: Yes, please?

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Mrs. Thomas: Hmm. This is rather unusual. We’ve never had anyone but turkeys here before. I’m not sure how the residents would feel about that.

Penny: But we don’t have anyplace else to go. He’s going to find us if we keep walking.

Mrs. Thomas thought for a few minutes. The pigs were getting more nervous. Every time they heard a noise on the road they jumped. They didn’t know what they would do if Mrs. Thomas turned them down.

Mrs. Thomas: As I said, I’m not really sure whether you’d be welcome here. I need to talk with some of the staff.

Herman: How long will that take? We need to keep running if we can’t stay here.

Mrs. Thomas: It shouldn’t take long. Come in and hide in those woods while we decide.

She pointed to a dense group of trees not far from the road. The pigs sighed with relief. At least they were safe for a while. Everyone probably knew they were gone by now.

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Penny: Thank you so much, Mrs. Thomas.

Junior: We’re extremely grateful, even if the rest of it doesn’t work out.

They heard trucks on the road and scattered, the pigs to one side and Mrs. Thomas to the other. Watching the truck move slowly along the road looking at each side, the pigs realized the humans were looking for them.

Human 1: Maybe we should get out and look in the woods.

Human 2: Why bother? Those pigs aren’t smart enough to hide. They couldn’t have gone far. It’s not like they can run with the amount of food they’ve been eating. We’ll spot them soon.

Human 1: We have to. Mr. Jeager said we’d have to pay for them if we can’t find them. I can’t believe they got that gate open. We weren’t gone that long.

Human 2: Just keep looking.

The pigs looked at each other in terror.

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Herman: You were right, Penny. We’re lucky they think we’re so dumb. It wasn’t any trouble at all to get that latch open.

Junior: We better hope Mrs. Thomas will let us stay. It looks like those guys will be looking-

for a while.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Thomas was meeting with the staff and a few of the long-term residents.

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Next week: Will the turkeys lets the pigs stay or are they too traumatized to be around anything other than more turkeys?

Photos courtesy of Google Images

 

7

The Animal Rights Coalition – Part 4

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Where we are: The Animal Rights Coalition (ARC) has been working to stop humans from using their names as insults. They have had no luck with submitting a petition or trying to meet with the members of the Human Council. Gregg Bear and Ivan Tiger decide that it is time to consult with a lawyer. (Links to the previous sections are found at the right)

Gregg and Ivan are waiting in the offices of Sharkfin and Sharkfin to meet with the attorney. A well-groomed Siamese cat approached them.

Siamese: Hello, I’m Greta. I’ve been assigned your case.

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Gregg and Ivan looked at each other. Was this some kind of joke? This cat was not going to intimidate a bunch of humans. What was she going to do? Purr loud?

Ivan: Meaning no disrespect….

Greta: You want to know why I’m not a shark, right?

Gregg: Actually, yes. We’ve been trying to get a bunch of humans to listen to us and we wanted someone to get their attention.

Greta: Actually, that’s why they sent me. If you two aren’t going to intimidate them, we certainly won’t.

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Ivan: What do we do?

Greta: First, you have to know what is going to get their attention. What can you do that they can’t ignore? When do you interact with the humans?

Ivan: We see them at the stores and at work. But that’s just the regular humans.

Greta: OK. But they’re all just regular humans.

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Ivan: Some of them are more important. They own things and tell other people what to do.

Gregg: We want to get their attention.

Greta: Then you need to make them understand that their insults are having an impact on their business. You need to tell people to stop using their products until the humans stop insulting you.

Gregg and Ivan left, confused. They had wanted to hire someone to sue the humans. This cat wanted them to educate the humans. They called another ARC meeting.

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Gregg: We met with a lawyer. She said that we need to get the humans to see that we’re important to their business before they’ll listen to us.

Cecile Ferret: I guess that makes sense. They’ve thought they’re better and smarter than us forever.

Joe Iguana: They take us for granted.

Ivan: That’s what the lawyer said.

Ralph: OK. What do we do?

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The animals talked about which businesses they might be able to influence. They decided that they would only do one at first to see if anything happened. The first business they targeted was Adderson’s Shoe Supplies. They posted this message outside shoe stores:

“Please buy a brand other than Adderson’s. Their advertising calls tired, stinky feet “dogs”. We want them to find a different way to sell their product. Thank you. ARC

The signs didn’t work. People still bought the shoes.

Gregg: I don’t think this is a very good idea.

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Joe: I don’t know why we chose shoes. We don’t wear shoes. We should have done food. Food is always good.

Cecile: Did you hear? We made the news!

“Tonight’s local take is the boycott ARC is trying to start against Adderson’s Shoes for slander. It seems the animals are finally tired of being insulted. Good luck!”

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Ivan: Great. We’ll need it.

Cecile: It gets better. Look at this:

Animal call for end to insults spreads. Several areas have picked up on the ARC animals’ quest to end animal name insults. Protest is gaining momentum.

Three months later: Due to grass-roots pressure from their customers, humans included, the Human Council began the process to identify and eliminate institutional animal insults.

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Pictures courtesy of Google Images.

 

17

The Animal Rights Coalition – Part 3

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Where we are: The Animal Rights Coalition (ARC) tried to take a petition to a human council meeting, but were barred from entering. ARC wanted the humans to stop using animal names as insults. A guard took the petition and said that he would give it to council.

Two weeks went by before the animals received a letter from W. Charles Smith, President of the Council on Human/Animal Relations:

Dear Animals

We have received your petition listing your concerns about us using your names as insults. We appreciate your bringing this matter to our attention. I have assigned a committee to look into the matter.

Sincerely

W.C. Smith

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Julie Giraffe: Those rotten rutabagas! They’re just trying to get rid of us.

Roni Baboon: You’re right, Julie. They’re not going to do anything.

Chester Rabbit: I’m afraid you’re right. We’ll have to try something else.

Ralph Badger: Let’s dig under their building and let it collapse.

Benny Buffalo: No, let’s stampede them.

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Simon Skunk: No, we should sabotage their air filtration.

Chester: Calm down, everyone. That’s not going to make anyone happy. We need to work together.

Chrissy Calico: I don’t know what we can do. They don’t respect us at all. Remember what he called us? “Cute.” Humans don’t pay attention to “cute”.

Gregg Bear: OK, let me talk to them. They won’t think I’m cute and cuddly. I’m over 500 pounds of muscle and fur.

Ivan Tiger: I’ll go too. I can growl loud enough to scare any human.

Ralph: I guess that will work. But be polite. Otherwise, they’ll call you animals.

Chrissy: They are animals.

Ralph: I know. But humans use it as an insult.

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Gregg and Ivan walked over to the Council Hall and went in the front door. The receptionist looked up and asked if she could help them.

Ivan: Yes, thank you. We would like to see Mr. Smith, please.

Receptionist: Do you have an appointment?

Ivan: No, we don’t. Please tell him we’re from ARC.

Receptionist (knowing there would be trouble if she let a bear and a tiger into the building): Mr. Smith doesn’t see anyone without an appointment.

Ivan: Please tell him that we won’t take up much of his time.

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Receptionist (beginning to get nervous): I’m sorry, but you’ll have to make an appointment.

Ivan: Please just ask.

Receptionist: All right. Let me check.

She called someone and said that there was a bear and a tiger to see Charles. No, they weren’t threatening. They were very polite. She listened, then hung up the phone.

Receptionist: Someone will be out shortly.

Ivan: Thank you.

Ivan and Gregg moved to the side of the lobby and waited. Before long, two security guards arrived.

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Security Guard: What seems to be the problem?

Ivan: There isn’t a problem. We just want to see Mr. Smith.

Security Guard: Didn’t the lady tell you you’d need an appointment?

Ivan: Yes, she did. We just need a minute of his time.

Guard: He won’t see you. You need to leave.

Ivan: Why won’t he see us?

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The guard didn’t want to tell them that Mr. Smith was afraid of large animals.

Guard: He can see whoever he wants.

Gregg: That’s ridiculous. Just let us past. We’ll find him ourselves.

Guard (nervously): You need to go now.

Ivan was getting irritated. He let out a low growl. Gregg took a step toward the guard.

Gregg: Now see here…

Guard: Leave this minute or I’ll call the police.

Gregg: Let us past you.

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The guard picked up the phone.

Guard: Yes, we need you at the Council Hall. There’s a bear and a tiger here. We need you to get them out of here. They’re meaner than grizzlies.

Gregg: I AM a grizzly.

Guard: I mean they’re madder than wet hens.

Gregg and Ivan looked at each other in disgust and stalked out the door.

Ivan: I guess we’ll have to get a lawyer.

He took out his phone and entered the number.

Voice: Sharkfin and Sharkfin, Attorneys-at-Law. How may I help you?

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12

The Animal Rights Coalition – Part 2

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Where we are: The Animal Rights Coalition (ARC) has decided that they need to send a petition to the humans telling them how offensive they found the use of animals in a lot of the human insults.

Douglas Gorilla was ready to read the petition that his group had put together to the rest of the members.

Douglas: We spent quite a lot of time putting this together and would like the input of everyone else to make it as good as possible.

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Dear Humans

We would like you to reconsider your usage of animal names in your insults. For example, “hairy as an ape,” is not considered an insult in our world. We would appreciate you not using it in such a manner either. There are many other examples of problem phrases.

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We feel that such insults stereotype us, generally in a negative way. You use “snake in the grass” to define someone who looks harmless, but can’t be trusted. Snakes live in the grass because that’s a logical place for someone to be who doesn’t have feet or legs. They only feel threatened if someone comes near. Humans with big feet and boots are especially scary to snakes.

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We would be happy to work with you to create a list of more appropriate insults at whatever time and place is convenient for you. We will provide a translator, if you like.

You may respond to carabbit@arcanimals.org, We look forward to hearing from you.

 Sincerely,

Animal Rights Coalition

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Douglas: We thought that everyone could sign so they know it’s a group effort.

Ida Hyena: I think it’s great. If I hear one more “laughing like a hyena joke,” I might have to bare my teeth in public.

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Jeni Dodo: I agree. We could suggest that they could just use “dumb as a rock,” rather than “dodo”, it would be great.

Chester: All in favor of sending the petition?

The result was unanimous. They decided that they would deliver the petition by hand/paw. Chester and Chrissy Calico were chosen so the humans wouldn’t feel intimidated.

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A few days later, Chester and Chrissy went to a human council meeting. They were stopped at the door.

Guard: This is a human meeting. No animals.

Chester: We just want to deliver a petition to your council.

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Guard: Let me check.

He called someone on his phone. Chester and Chrissy waited patiently. The guard explained the situation. They heard him say, “Actually, they’re pretty cute. Nothing dangerous at all.”

Guard: He said that you can’t go in, but I can take your petition and they will look at it after the meeting and get back with you.

Chester and Chrissy looked at each other. It seemed like there was no other option. They gave the petition to the guard.Image result for rabbit and cat

Next week: What will the humans do with the petition? Will they even look at it?

 

All pictures courtesy of Google Images.