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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28

2018 Animal Olympics – Week 2

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Riki T. Tavi here. Welcome to our summary of the second and final week of the 2018 Animal Olympics. Of course, the big surprise this week was the withdrawal of the highly favored reindeer team from the Sleigh Pull.

Rumors have swirled that members of the team failed a drug test. The truth is that the “failed” test was a pregnancy test. Roxy, the leader of the team, is going to have a calf in the spring. Animal Olympic rules prohibit participation of pregnant athletes due to the possibility of being kicked.

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The Dall Sheep had their appeal over the conditions of the ski slope rejected, so the standings are unchanged.

The week was full of surprises. Now on to our commentators.

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Harold Hare – Cross Country Tracking

The non-carnivore competition was a real disappointment. First, only four teams qualified for the race. Of course, the snowshoe hares were brilliant in finding the food we had distributed on the track. The beavers fell asleep and missed the race entirely. The squirrel team was fun to watch although their constant playing on the track was somewhat of a distraction.

Gold: Snowshoe Hares; Silver: Squirrels; Bronze: Mice.

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The carnivore competition was much more intense. Generally, the field is all mammals. The birds prefer to compete in the Raptor Grab. However, this year the arctic owls decided to enter the tracking hunt. With nests on the ground and their outstanding hunting skills, they were sure to be a threat.

The arctic foxes weren’t intimidated. They had inspected the field closely and were confident of their abilities. The wolverines had edged the wolves in the semi-finals to get the last spot in the finals.

It was a good fight. Unfortunately for the owls, one of their players got side-tracked by some non-competition prey and was eliminated for leaving the track.

Gold: Arctic Foxes; Silver: Wolverines; Bronze: Arctic Owls.

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Bruno Brown Bear – Ice Hockey

In recent years, the sport has been dominated by the bears. A combination of intelligence and strength has been the key. But this year there was a surprising new challenger. The dogs decided to enter a team of border collies.

The bear teams weren’t concerned. Who ever heard of dogs on ice? They concentrated on their usual threats, the otters and the seals. Both teams were fast, with plenty of experience moving chunks of ice.

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Fans were stunned when the border collies beat the black bears in the semi-finals. The dogs were fast learners and agile on the ice. The final four teams were the brown bears/grizzlies, seals, polar bears, and collies. The match-up between the brown bears and the seals wasn’t close, with the bears winning 6-0.

In the other game, it appears that the polar bears may have gotten a little over-confident. The collies took them to double-overtime and finally won, 2-1. So it was brown bears v. collies for the gold and silver, and seals v. polar bears for the bronze.

Gold: Brown Bears/Grizzlies; Silver: Border Collies; Bronze: Polar Bears.

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Arnie Kestrel – Raptor Grab

As usual, the Raptor Grab was an intense competition. The rules state that the contestants can only score with specially marked fish. However, there is nothing in the rules about taking another competitor’s fish before crossing the line.

A new member of the arctic owl team repeatedly brought back ineligible fish, leaving the team out of the finals. The bald eagles were eliminated when two of their team members lost fish in fights.

The finalists were the red-tailed hawks, the snowy owls, and the golden eagles.

Gold: Snowy Owls; Silver: Golden Eagles; Bronze: Red-Tailed Hawks.

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Rodney Reindeer – Sleigh Pull

As Riki said earlier, the favored reindeer team withdrew at the beginning of the week. As a result, we saw some different competitors joining the now-favored moose in the finals.

The sled dogs decided to field a team this year. Traditionally a strong competitor in the race, the dogs have been sitting out a suspension following that unfortunate incident in 2010. That team turned over the sleigh, but continued to run for a distance. The bears riding inside were dragged along with the sleigh. Once the bears and the dogs were released, there was a terrible fight.

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The final place was taken by the horse team. The horses fielded a good team, but their lack of experience at an elite level showed. It turned into a showdown between the moose and the sled dogs. The dogs had an emotional edge, trying to redeem their reputation. They edged the moose by less than a second.

Gold: Sled Dogs; Silver: Moose; Bronze: Horses.

It’s Riki again. I hope you enjoyed our coverage of the 2018 Animal Olympics. We hope to see you in 2022 when we’ll be covering the Winter Animal Olympics in Beijing.

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18

2018 Animal Olympics – Week 1

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Riki T. Tavi here. Welcome to our summary of the first week of the 2018 Animal Olympics. It’s been an exciting week here. We’ve had thrills and a few surprises. It’s been truly heartwarming to see the carnivores and non-carnivores competing against each other in peaceful surroundings. Now I’ll turn you over to our commentators.

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Margaret Malamute – Freestyle Skiing

Since no equipment is allowed in competition, this event has always been dominated by animals who could run down the hill the fastest. The last three winners were the Dall sheep team. However, this year the seals challenged the definition of “upright”. They argued that upright for them was on their bellies. After much consideration, the Olympic Committee agreed with their argument.

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So the finalists were the Dall Sheep, the reindeer and the seals. The favored sheep ran into a problem almost immediately when one of their runners hit a patch of ice and skidded off the trail. The seals were next. Being their first Olympics, the form was not great. But their speed made up for it. The reindeer were last. They were under pressure to beat the seals using traditional methods. It came down to the last runner, but in the end the reindeer triumphed.

Gold: Reindeer; Silver: Seals; Bronze: Sheep. The sheep plan a challenge based on the conditions of the slope.

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Edie Ermine – Freestyle Sledding

In a somewhat surprising turn of events, the seals did not qualify for the finals. The likely explanation is that they spent extra time working on the skiing skills and not enough on the sledding. Regardless, the finalists were the ermine, the penguins, and (surprisingly) the polar bears. The polar bears entered the competition on a dare and were expected to finish at the bottom of the pack.

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The ermine went first, displaying their flawless beauty in the event. The scores were good, but not great. Definitely room for the other teams to score higher. The penguins, apparently sensing victory, were a little careless in their takeoffs and barely edged the ermine. The polar bears went last. Their form was unusual, to say the least. They sat on their butts and held their feet up. Since the only requirement is that competitors maintain the same position from top to bottom, it was an acceptable position. The bears were not attractive going down the hills, but it’s a speed contest.

Gold: Polar Bears; Silver: Penguins; Bronze: Ermine

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Penelope Penguin – Luge

The Luge didn’t really hold many surprises. This fan favorite is a test of speed not form. The sides of the track are expandable so all the animals use the same track.The finalists were the penguins, the polar bears, and the otters. All three teams are experienced, and all performed well. Some minors errors on the track made the difference.

Gold: Otters; Silver: Penguins; Bronze: Polar Bears

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Oscar Otter – Underwater Relay

The otters have been dominant in this event for many years. Swimming quickly around and through posts and rings seems second nature to them. The only real question here was who would get silver and bronze. The finalists were the otters, the penguins, and the seals. The penguins were faster than the seals, but the seals missed fewer obstacles. In a very close finish, the seals beat out the penguins for silver.

Gold: Otters; Silver: Seals; Bronze: Penguins

It’s Riki again. Hopefully, you’ve been watching the actual events online at cheeseland.anm/olympics. Please join us next week for our summary of the remaining events.

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All pictures courtesy of Google Images

18

The 2018 Supper Bowl

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The resident male human (Cat’s husband) loves to watch American football. He watches it all fall, but at the end of the year there seems to be a lot of “bowls”. Watching with him, we noticed something strange. The winner of the Rose Bowl didn’t get a bowl of roses (or even a bowl), the winner of the Orange Bowl didn’t get oranges, and some of the bowl were for gifts that didn’t even make sense. (Who’d want a weed-eater as a prize?)

It seems that the biggest game of all is this weekend. They call it the Super Bowl. What’s so super about it? Apparently it shows who has the best football team in the country. But they still don’t win a bowl. Instead, they get really big rings. You can’t eat out of a ring.

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So we decided that we needed to sponsor our own bowl, The Supper Bowl. And guess what the winners get? Silver bowls with their names engraved on them and a year’s supply of their favorite food (funded by an anonymous donor.)

We had to make a few adjustments to the game. Since few animals are bipedal, runners can carry the ball in either their hands or their mouths. Unless the game is between two bipedal teams, passing is not allowed. Finally, field goals are not allowed because of the difference in animal heights.

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After an 8-game playoff, the contenders in the inaugural Supper Bowl are the Lions and the Bison. It’s a classic match-up of speed and brawn. We’ll see if the Lions’ stealth is any match for the brute strength of the Bison.

Now, on to the game with our commentators, Biff and Zoomer:

Zoomer: Well, here we go. The Lions are kicking off to the Bison. That was some kick. The Bison ball carrier starts slowly, but now he picks up speed.

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Biff: Oh my goodness. That Lion defense is pretty impressive. Two go for the legs and one jumps up in front of him. There’s no gain.

(Two more attempts and the Bisons turn the ball over to the Lions.)

Biff: Now we’ll see how good that Bison defense really is. The Lion runner takes off but has no where to go. No gain.  Running through the Bison line is not going to work for the Lions.

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Zoomer: There he goes again. He sees a little daylight around the end and runs for it. The Bison line is slow to react. Touchdown! The Lions lead 6-0.

Biff: OK, now the Bison need to make sure that they come back strong.

Zoomer: Oh no! two of the Bison players have collided. This is not good. They need to be helped off the field.

Biff: The offense is already down players from previous injuries. They’re going to have to put in rookies.

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(seesaw)

(As expected, the series doesn’t go well for the Bison and they don’t score. Things go back and forth for most of the game. The defenses manage to keep either team from scoring until late in the game.)

Biff: Well, this is it for the Bison. If they don’t score here, they’re out of time.

Zoomer: Right you are. Here we go. The Bison form a group around their runner. They move as one. The Lions have no choice but to move out of their way. It looks like we’re headed to overtime.

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(The teams take a break to discuss their strategy. Whoever scores first wins the game.)

Zoomer: Since the Bison had the ball first in the game, the Lions will get it first in overtime.

Biff: Rumor has it that the Lions have been practicing a trick play. If it’s true, now’s the time to use it.

Zoomer: We’re back on the field. The Lions have the ball. The carrier goes to the left instead of straight ahead and runs into his own player.

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Biff: No! He didn’t run into him. He gave him the ball. The Bison look confused. The new runner passes the ball to a third Lion. He takes advantage of the confusion in the Bison defensive line. He leaps over two Bison who are wandering around and heads for the end zone.

Zoomer: And the Lions win the Supper Bowl!

Biff: Let’s go down to the field to talk to the victors.

(Fortunately for fans everywhere, the teams have disappeared into their respective locker rooms and are not available for interviews. The Supper Bowl will be presented the next day at a banquet.)

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Alert readers should have guessed the outcome. We are based in Michigan, home of the Detroit Lions.

All pictures courtesy of Google Images

 

15

2018 Animal Olympics Coverage Team

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It’s almost time for the Winter Animal Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. We noticed that the humans put out an announcement introducing their coverage team. We decided that would be a good idea, so here they are:

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General Coordination and Coverage – Riki T. Tavi (mongoose) – our Asian Correspondent

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Interpreters  – Lexi (German Shepard) and Yuma Cho (Raccoon Dog) – you may remember Lexi as the ace translator we discovered during the cat food crisis a couple of months ago.

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Cross-Country Tracking – Harold Hare – member of the gold medal-winning 2014 Snowshoe Hare team.

What it is: Teams compete to see who can locate the most food on a prepared track. There are separate events for carnivores and non-carnivores.

Favorites: badgers, hares, wolverines

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Freestyle Skiing – Margaret Malamute – member of the 2014 Olympic Mixed Sled-Dog Team

What it is: Teams compete for a combined score based on how quickly its members get down the mountain. The skier must remain upright and no equipment is allowed.

Favorites: Dall sheep, reindeer

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Freestyle Sledding – Edie Ermine – gold medalist, 2014

What it is: Teams are scored on how quickly its members are able to get down the mountain in the same position (back, front, sitting).

Favorites: ermine, seals, penguins

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Ice Hockey – Bruno Brown Bear – member of the 2014 Brown/Grizzly Team

What it is: Teams compete to see how many chunks of ice they can get into their opponents goal. Players will be ejected for drawing blood on an opposing team member.

Favorites: polar bears, black bears

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Luge – Penelope Penguin – silver medalist, 2014

What it is: Teams are scored on how quickly its members can get down an iced track on their backs

Favorites:  penguins, polar bears

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Raptor Grab – Arnie, member of the 2014 American Kestrel team

What it is: Teams compete to collect the largest number of fish in the shortest period of time. Points are deducted for bringing back game not marked with the Olympic. Participants are disqualified for bringing back prey that is not a fish.

Favorites: Red-Tailed Hawks, Golden Eagles

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Sleigh Pull – Rodney Reindeer, gold medalist in 2014

What it is: Teams of four animals compete to pull a sleigh of two (friendly) adult black bears. Participants are disqualified for tipping the sleigh over. Note: bears may not be as friendly at this point.

Favorites: caribou/reindeer, moose

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Underwater Relay – Oscar Otter, bronze medalist 2014

What it is: Teams of four animals compete to finish a circular obstacle course underwater with each member completing one quarter of the circuit. The winner is the fastest team with the fewest missed obstacles.

Favorites: otters, seals

We animals don’t tell time like the humans do. So just remember that all of the competitions will be during the day. But when it’s daytime in South Korea. So you might just want to set some kind of recording device or leave the channel on all the time.

See you in February!

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0

One Last Look at the Animal Olympics

(Words in italics are translated at the bottom.)

The sloth 10-meter race was amazingly quick this year, coming in at less than five days for the first time in Olympic history. The winner, Maria Perezoso of Costa Rico, said that she credited her intensive training regime with moving vines for her victory. She also said that the climate in Rio was similar to that at home which helped her breathing.

One of the best ideas this year was to separate the gorilla gymnastics from the rest of the competition due to the weight differences. After the tragic accident in London where John Gorilla misjudged his landing and fell on the monkey team practicing on the next apparatus, there was no question that something had to be done. This year’s competition was thankfully accident-free.

The biggest upset of the year was the victory of Lin-Lin Panda in the 20-meter tree climb, beating heavily favored A. M. Biri. Mr. Biri is challenging the results. The Olympic Committee is awaiting drug-testing results before making a decision.

Once again, Russian bears won all of the wrestling medals: Igor Obez’yana – gold; Sergei Obez’yana – silver; and Petya Obez’yana – bronze. The Canadian Alan Brown Bear ended in fourth place, the best result for a non-Russian bear in the last eight years. Russian cubs are taken into training when they are four months old, which probably accounts for their dominance. Unfortunately, there is some impact on social development and these bears rarely mate.

As expected, Samuel Duma dominated the short running events. His only real competition was I.A. Duma, his training partner. Hando Paa came in third, undoubted aided by the cheetah who was close behind. Mr. Paa said that instinct took over and propelled him to his bronze medal.

The long-distance running events took an unexpected turn when Dubai entered several camels in the races. On the hot track, Abraham Jamal easily outpaced his competition. Ishmael Jamal took the silver. Alexander Kudu from the African savannah was the third-place finisher. The camels will be definite contenders going forward. The other competitors found them rather rude and almost mean.

Unfortunately most of the swimming events had to be cancelled. When the water was tested prior to the first race, the officials found a significant amount of chlorine. Suspicion immediately focused on the Russians whose Siberian tigers had been disqualified due to failed drug testing. The tigers had been heavy favorites to win several events. The other theory is that the maintenance crew had been given the human requirements by mistake.

The other animals laughed at the idea of the hippos entering a team in the water polo competition. No one is doubting now that they have won the silver medal. Their style is definitely unorthodox, using their snouts to propel the ball. Their coach, Jonas Kiboko, credited the team’s desire to prove the critics wrong for the strong showing. Unfortunately, the elephant team ended the hippos’ run. Their long trunks provided superior accuracy, and the team went on to win their fifth consecutive Olympic gold medal.

Overall, the games were a huge success. Now the animals can relax until their human counterparts are finished and provide them with a ride home. Unfortunately, the animals lost their petition to attend the human games. Apparently the cheetah eating the capybara early in the games has led some humans to fear for their own lives. For their part, the animals are hoping that there are no hunters on the human side.

 

Spanish – sloth, Hausa – gorilla, Hausa – monkey, Russian (transliterated) – bear, Swahili – cheetah, gazelle, Arabic (transliterated) – camel, Swahili – kudu, Swahili – hippo (Translations provided by Google. The African translations are limited by the number of languages available.)

 

2

Rio Animal Olympics: Water Aerobics

(Google Images/Rebloggy.com)

I’m Les Sloth, and I’m here with the Canadian otters, winners of the 2016 gold medal in Water Aerobics. From the left, we have Terry (team captain), James, Ian, and Joseph.

Les: Congratulations! How does it feel to win the gold?

Terry: It’s amazing. We’ve been working so hard, and it’s great to get the gold for Canada.

Les: The competition did not work out the way many folks thought it would. It was supposed to be a four-way contest between the Canadians, Americans, Russians, and Chinese. What happened?

James: Well, it was kind of a fluke with the Americans. None of us knew that it was illegal to shave our country’s name into our fur. Once the first team was disqualified, they really didn’t have much of a chance.

Ian: And the Russians were pretty demoralized when their coach wasn’t allowed to leave Russia with them. Who knew that his wife’s grandmother’s second cousin was married to a Chechen?

Les: It’s incredible that both of those things would have happened the same year. But what about the Chinese?

Terry: We’d rather not talk about that.

Les: Why’s that?

Terry: Apparently, there was some sort of political situation. As athletes, we try not to get involved in those things.

Les: Can you tell me anything?

Ian: It appears that they were using some kind of top-secret training facilities that may not have been approved for the Animal Olympics. The Olympic Committee was looking into it right before the Games.

Les: Did they find anything?

Ian: There was enough of an issue that they issued a warning to the Chinese. Of course, the Chinese denied they had done anything wrong and blamed a Western conspiracy to eliminate the Chinese politically since they couldn’t do it in the water.

Les: Do they know what was happening at the secret facility?

Ian: Rumor has it that they were using some kind of hyper-oxygenated water to train. It’s supposed to help develop stronger lungs.

Terry: But there’s no proof that the Chinese were cheating.

Joseph: We do know that for some reason they didn’t understand that the competition was happening at a river here in the zoological park. They have been training for the past couple of months in an extremely polluted river outside Beijing. They thought it would give them an advantage over those of us training in the wild.

Les: That’s awful. It’s probably the reason they wanted stronger lungs.

James: Unfortunately, most of them picked up some kind of river sickness that has made them incredibly weak. A couple of the alternates even died.

Joseph: They were training with the rest of us, but they weren’t in the clean water long enough to make a difference.

Les: That definitely explains why Iceland and Norway showed so strongly.

Terry: They did perform very well. Iceland, in particular has shown immense growth in the last few years. We’re proud to have beaten them.

Les: So what are you planning to do to celebrate?

Terry: The Canadians have a party every night for all of their medal winners. You are welcome to come.

Les: Thank you very much. However, after the incident in the Big Cat room yesterday, I’ve decided to eat in my room.

James: Yes, it was very unfortunate that the capybara was mistaken for dinner. They never should have sent him in as a waiter for the 200-meter dash winners. They knew the room would be full of hungry cheetahs.

Les: Yes, that is true. I suppose it was appropriate to hold the administrators responsible rather than the cats.

Ian: We feel the same way. The only carnivores allowed tonight are those on Team Canada. It’s unfortunate, but the cats understand. They really feel terrible about what happened.

Joseph: They are collecting money for the poor fellow’s family.

Les: That’s showing the true Olympic spirit. Otters, thank you so much for stopping by. And congratulations once again.

(Google Images/Wikimedia)