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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9

Road Trip! The Gators’ Summer Vacation

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It had been abnormally hot and steamy in the southern Florida swamp. While most of the gators loved it, Abigail had had enough. She was a Carolina gator who had met Al on a spring trip to Panama City. It was love at first sight, and they spent their time curled up in a hot tub some human had forgotten to drain.

When it was time to go home, Al invited Abby to come with him. She didn’t hesitate and had been living south of Miami ever since. It had been an adjustment. She thought it smelled weird, and all the gators did was lie around. She loved Al and she soon adapted. But this summer was too much.

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Abby: Al, the heat is starting to make me cranky.

Al: Sweetheart, you’re an alligator. Being cranky is part of our charm.

Abby: I want to go somewhere for vacation.

Al: OK, we can go to somewhere on the coast. You pick the spot.

Abby: I was thinking a little more north.

Al: Back to Panama City? That would be nice.

Abby: Um. A little further north.

Al: How much further north?

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Abby: Tennessee.

Al: Where is Tennessee? I’ve never heard of it.

Abby: It’s north of Georgia.

Al: That doesn’t sound very tropical. Exactly how far is it?

Abby (hesitating): Well, I couldn’t get the exact mileage, but it’s about 850 miles.

Al: 850 miles! Abby, we’re alligators. It would take us years. There’s no way we can take that kind of trip. Find someplace closer or we’re not going.

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Abby (starting to cry): Just look at the pictures. See, the humans are wearing shorts. That means it’s warm. And the place I found has a hot tub. It’ll be romantic, just like when we first met. We can leave the kids with your sister.

Al: What’s that big, furry thing standing in this picture?

Abby: It says it’s a bear. I’m not sure what that is, but I’m sure it’s well-mannered since it’s at a resort.

Al: I don’t see any alligators in these pictures. All the animals are furry.

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Abby: I’m sure it’s just because of where they took the pictures.

Al realizes that Abby really has her heart set on going to this place.

Al: OK. How do we get there?

Abby: I thought that we could take an airplane, but we gators don’t have our own airline. Apparently, not enough of us fly. We used to be able to take All Animals, but they went out of business. The last one available is Creature Air Comfort, but they’ve banned gators.

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Al: Isn’t that discriminatory?

Abby: Apparently not. In the past few years, there have been five instances of gators eating other passengers.

Al: Trust some hooligans to ruin it for everyone.

Abby: So the next fastest way to get there is by train. The only problem is that the trains from Miami charge gators double because of the eating other passengers thing. We’d need to go to Orlando to get a decent rate. Apparently there are lots of humans in the area who spoil the alligators, so they don’t bother the other animals.

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Al: Well, there’s one positive to the human invasion down here. So how do we get to Orlando?

Abby: Well your sister Jean told me about something the humans have, called ride-sharing. Some people do it because they’re friends, but other people do it for anyone to make money.

Al: Well, that’s great, but we don’t know any humans.

Abby: Jean does. Some guy who was out here taking pictures. He said that driving alligators to Orlando would make him “viral.” We don’t know what that means, but she made sure that he would deliver us to the train station alive and in good shape.

Al (defeated): So when does he pick us up?

Early Saturday morning, the driver arrives in an old pickup truck. He has filled the bed with water after laying down blankets for their comfort. He has a friend who is recording everything while talking the whole time. Abby and Al climb in, ready to start their adventure.

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Next time: Tennessee is definitely not the tropics.

(Pictures courtesy of Google Images)

 

 

6

Christmas in the Forest – Part 2

Mrs. G looks around. It appeared that everyone had arrived. She goes over to Mr. G. He is speaking with Stag.

Mr. G: I don’t want a repeat of last year. The does are here to enjoy themselves, not to fend you off. It’s too late in the year for that nonsense.

Stag: Some of them enjoy the attention.

Mr. G: And some of them don’t. If you can’t behave properly, this will be your last “truce”. You look like you might be a tasty post-hibernation snack.

Mrs. G: Dear! I told you – none of those jokes tonight.

Mr. G (looks at Stag): Who says I’m joking?

Stag: Very well. Point made. (Walks off.)

Mrs. G: I’m going to serve dinner.

She motions everyone to be quiet.

Mrs. G: Welcome everyone! I hope you’re having a good time. The food is ready, so enjoy.

The carnivores settle in one place, the herbivores in another. The herbivores are not at all comfortable watching the bears eating other animals, even if they weren’t relatives.

Mr. G is in a bad mood. He doesn’t like being near his favorite snacks and not be able to eat them. It was risky for Mrs. G to go to the ranches to get the cows and sheep. What if she got shot for the benefit of some stupid deer?

Mr. G: Darling, why is Mrs. B sitting with the carnivores? She says she doesn’t eat anything except berries. She should be over there with the mice and squirrels.

Mrs. G: Don’t be silly. She’s a bear and a member of the family. Look at her. Do you really think she’d be that “healthy looking” if all she ate was berries? That’s just another of her acts. Besides, the raccoons are with us and they eat anything.

Mr. G: Exactly. They eat meat.

Mrs. G nuzzles him. He hugs her and calms down.

The talk turns to the coming winter. All the signs point to a worse year than last year. The hibernators wonder if they’d put on enough fat. The small animals worry that they will end up as someone’s meal.

Mrs. G: Enough of the gloom. We’re here to have fun. I have a special treat for dessert.

Everyone waits in anticipation. She disappears into the den and comes back with her paws full of honeycombs. The guests gasp.

Mr. B: Mmm! Where did you find that much honey?

Mrs. G: It’s top secret. (She had found a rancher who raised honey bees.)

She divides the honey between all of the guests, the size of the treat proportional to the size of the animal. The small animals had never tasted honey; it belonged to the bears in the forest. Mrs. G stopped in front of the Black Bears. She gives a large piece to Mr. B and looks at Mrs. B.

Mrs. G: Do you want a piece, dear? I guess probably not, since it’s not berries.

Mr. G smiles at his wife’s cleverness. He could see Mrs. B struggling with an answer. Everyone knows black bears love honey. Finally Mrs. B. gives in.

Mrs. B: Well, I guess I could make an exception this one time. A small piece would be lovely.

Mrs. G: I’m so glad you’ll try it. It really is delicious.

Mr. G has trouble not laughing.

After dinner, the animals play games. The bears wrestle and most of the others run around. Mr. G sees Stag talking with some the does and walks over to see what is going on.

Stag: Mr. G, what a wonderful party you and your wife have put together! We’ve been talking about how great the food was.

Doe: Yes, I’m having a lot of fun. And Stag has been entertaining us with stories of how he has escaped being a trophy on somebody’s wall for the last couple of years. I’d heard that he is rather wild, but he’s been a perfect gentleman all evening.

Stag smiles gratefully. He had hoped someone would have noticed the change. Mr. G nods in approval and returns to his wife.

Mr. G: Well dear, it looks like another success.

Mrs. G: I think you’re right. Have you managed to make it around to say hello to everyone?

Mr. G: I think so.

Mrs. G: Even the herbivores?

Mr. G (low growl): You know I hate talking to them. They’re all afraid of me.

Mrs. G: Well you are the biggest, noisiest bear in the forest. And you look pretty grumpy most of the time. Go show them your charming side.

Mr. G (sighs): Yes, dear.

He heads to the herbivores looking as friendly as possible.

Soon the guests start to leave. Mrs. Snowshoe Rabbit looks around anxiously.

Mrs. S: Has anyone seen my husband?

The herbivores look around nervously. They don’t see Mr. S or Mr. G.

Mrs. S (looking at Mrs. G): You don’t think…

Mrs. G (a little nervous): Don’t worry, dear. I’m sure he’s around somewhere.

Just as she starts toward the trees, Mr. G and Mr. S appear, talking intently to each other. Seeing his wife’s face, Mr. S hurries over to assure her that all is well.

Mr. S: Don’t worry, sweetie. Mr. G was just showing me how to spot those traps the humans put up in the winter.

Mrs. S: That’s very kind of you, Mr. G. Thank you so much. I’m sorry I thought something bad had happened.

Mr. G: No hard feelings at all. I know my reputation. Have a safe trip home.

The Grizzlies start to get ready for bed.

Mrs. G: I’m so proud of you, being so gracious to all the herbivores.

Mr. G (feeling guilty): Well, not quite all of them.

Mrs. G: What do you mean?

Mr. G: Well…. Those skunks who kept running around pretending to squirt everyone really got on my nerves. I took them out back, but they just laughed. So I hit them with my paw.

Mrs. G: So what happened?

Mr. G: Well, the neighbors won’t have to worry about the smell anymore. The bodies are out back. (Waits for Mrs. G’s response.)

Mrs. G: Well, since the deed is done, let’s have a midnight snack.

 

 

 

8

Christmas in the Forest – Part 1

Somewhere in the forests of Montana:

It was time for the Grizzlies’ annual holiday party. The party was highly anticipated – the food was always great, and it usually happened right before hibernation.

Mr. G: So are you ready for the big night, dear?

Mrs. G: I don’t know. I’m not sure I have enough food. Maybe I should go hunting one last time.

Mr. G: (laughs): You always have more than enough. We snack for days. What are we having?

Mrs. G: Well, I wanted to try something different. I saw a couple of joggers. I thought they might be tasty but I didn’t get a chance. Probably just as well. I talked to some of the other bears later. Apparently that kind are gristly. They said that the others are too fatty. So it’s back to the usual cows and sheep.

Mr. G: (disappointed) I suppose that means you’ve invited all those herbivores again. Some of them are delicious. (The guests gets uncomfortable when they see a relative on the menu.)

Mrs. G: Of course I did. That’s part of the tradition. The herbivores have a day when they don’t have to worry about us eating them. The humans call it a “truce”. They don’t seem to last very long. It won’t hurt us to do it for one day.

Mr. G: I suppose. I’d hate to think that we can’t even be as civilized as the humans. So where did you find the food for them?

Mrs. G: The Rabbits sent their regrets. Because of the early bad weather, the decided to den up early. She felt badly, so she sent a huge bunch of greens. Once I knew what to look for, it wasn’t hard to get more.

Mr. G: Nasty things! I don’t know how anyone can get them down, much less live on them.

Mrs. G: I don’t understand it either. But they are guests, so we need to serve them something they can eat. And none of your jokes about inviting them to be dinner. It frightens them.

Mr. G: Hmmph! (as he wanders off)

On the night of the party it was clear and cold. Mrs. G. had just finished the preparations when they heard a rustling.

Mrs. G: Just in time! Our first guest.

Mr. G: It’s probably your freeloading brother coming to eat all the salmon chunks before anyone else gets here.

Mrs. G: Be nice to him. You know he’s been depressed since that girl left him.

Mr. G: What did he expect? Her family’s from Alaska. You know how snobby those bears are.

Sure enough, the brother headed straight for the salmon. Mr. G went over but was interrupted by the arrival of the Black Bears. Hugging his cousin, he asked how things were going.

Mr. B: Haven’t you heard? The humans got my friend from China.

Mr. G: You mean the one that was here for last year’s party? I felt a little badly that he had to bring his own food. Mrs. G couldn’t find bamboo anywhere. She took a real liking to him. He was rather nice to look at with that black and white fur. What happened?

Mr. B: It turns out that he was getting his food from a place they call a “nursery”. One day he got careless and went during the day. A human saw him.

Mr. G: How awful!

Mr. B: He got away, but they knew he was there and they hunted him down. I guess they don’t see very many Chinese bears around here. They took him to a “nature preserve.” I don’t know what that is.

Mr. G: I hope it isn’t one of those awful places where the human cubs scream all the time and throw things at you. I saw one once. I still get nightmares. Bear cubs would never behave that way.

Mr. B nodded. His wife joined them. She gave Mr. G a hug.

Mrs. B: How are you darling? You look wonderful! Where is your lovely wife? I must say hello to her and tell her how fabulous everything looks. I’ll leave you boys to whatever it was you were up to.

Mr. G groaned inwardly. He could not understand why his cousin, as good a bear as he had ever known, had decided to mate with her. He’d met her down in Yellowstone. She’d been in some “Don’t Feed the Bears” video and thought she was a star. Mr. B had brought her home to meet his family and convinced her to stay. It wasn’t even her looks – her fur had no gloss and her eyes were too big for her face.

He overheard her ask Mrs. G if she had any berries, “Because all I ever eat is a small bowl of berries, as you know.” What kind of bear was she anyway? Mr. G had never met a bear who didn’t like fish. Besides, she always looked like she was ready for hibernation regardless of the time of year.

He was getting really irritated when he was interrupted by the arrival of the herbivores. They always came in a group, just in case the bears had changed their minds about the “truce.”

Mrs. G: How wonderful that you could all come. We’re looking forward to a special dinner. Mrs. Rabbit sent over some beautiful herbs and grasses. I’m sure you’ll enjoy them.

Mr. Squirrel: That was very thoughtful of her. I have brought some nuts to share as well. You are so kind to share your home with us Mrs. G, I hope you don’t mind.

Mrs. G: Not at all, Mr. Squirrel. Anything you’d like is fine. (To herself: How can anyone consider nuts a meal? He’s as bad as Mrs. B with her berries.)

To be continued…