18

Animal Playground Forced to Close

Image result for park closed

“It seemed like such a good idea at the time, said Marcus Fox. “After all, animal playgrounds have worked in other cities. Why wouldn’t it work here?” Mr. Fox is part owner of the Templeton Animal Park and Fun Fair. He and his partners are shuttering the park at the end of the month due to skyrocketing maintenance and insurance costs.

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We decided to walk around the park ourselves to see if things were really as bad as they sounded. They were. And the cause was easy to understand. Most animal parks are built in developed areas for domesticated animals; usually smaller species. Templeton, to put it politely, is in the middle of nowhere.

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Because of it’s location, the park attracted all types of wildlife. Once the bears took over the swimming pool, the only animals who weren’t afraid to use it were the otters. Apparently pool filters aren’t equipped for bear fur, because they clogged every few days and needed to be replaced. And bears do not like chlorine, so keeping the pool clean required a full-time attendant.

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The moose wanted to try out the skating pond. The problem was that moose are heavy and are known for either breaking through the ice or slipping and not being able to get off by themselves. Either way, they have to be rescued, and that is really expensive.

Image result for animals on snow

Image result for animals on snow

Cats are usually a good source of income for the parks. It allows them to go outside and play in a safe environment. But they left once they saw the bears. Apparently bears don’t use parks as much as cats, so it was a significant drop in revenue.

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The beavers were absolutely adorable and loved the park. Until someone realized they were chewing down all the young trees. They were using the wood to create a dam which ended up flooding the meadow. The rabbits and deer didn’t want to visit a park that didn’t have a meadow.

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The small dogs went wild over the merry-go-round running track. But then some of the bigger dogs wanted to try it. One of them got stuck and had to be rescued. The owners wanted to put a size restriction up. But the insurance increase was too much, and they had to close down the ride. The dogs started boycotting the park.

The loss of the dogs was the end of the park. Without the large number of cat and dog memberships found at other parks, there wasn’t enough money to keep things running. Word is that the closure is good news for the wild animals. They thought there were too many restrictions at the park.

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Pictures courtesy of Google Images

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0

Back to the Forest for New Year’s Eve

Daisy and Daphne are twin does who were born last year. Daphne is the more outgoing of the two and usually speaks for them. They are part of a close-knit herd of deer. They still live with their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Buck.

One day at the end of December, they return home very excited.

Daphne: Guess what, Daddy? Stag is having a New Year’s Eve party and we’re invited! May we go? Everyone’s going to be there.

Mr. B: No, you may not.

Daphne: Why not, Daddy? He seemed so nice at the Grizzlies’ party. I’m sure nothing bad will happen.

Mr. B: I happen to know that the reason he was so well-behaved was because Mr. G threatened to eat him in the spring is he wasn’t.

Daphne: You don’t really believe that silly rumor, do you Daddy? Please? We’ll be the only young deer who won’t be there. Everyone will laugh at us and call us fawns.

Mr. B: The answer is no, and that’s final.

The girls go to their bedding places in tears.

The next day when all the young does get together, Daphne and Daisy find out that none of the others could go either.

Violet: This is so unfair. They’re treating us like fawns.

The others nod in agreement.

Daisy (timidly): Maybe we could have our own party.

Jasmine: Wow, Daisy. You never say anything. That’s a great idea!

Daphne: No one can object if it’s just us.

Daphne’s right. All the fathers agree it was the perfect solution. Being the most assertive, Daphne plans everything and hands out tasks.

Meanwhile, Stag finds out that the does would be having their own party rather than coming to his. What was the point of a party with no does? He had to find a way around the problem. But what?

New Year’s Eve arrives. The does get to the meadow and set everything up. They have grass and berries to eat. There’s a stream nearby to drink from, and lots of space to run around in.

Violet: This is perfect. I’m glad it’s only us. We don’t have to worry about impressing the boys.

Daphne: But Stag is so handsome! Did you see his antlers?

Jasmine (giggling): You know what they say about the size of a buck’s antlers.

Daisy: Jasmine! How could you say something like that?

Daisy lowers her head in embarrassment. The other does laugh.

Jasmine: Besides, Daisy, you might be the first one of us to find out. You know that Billy likes you. He spends all of his time watching you.

Daisy: Really? I hadn’t noticed

Daphne: She’s probably telling the truth. She doesn’t even know I’m there half the time.

Daisy: That’s not true!

Daphne (laughing): What about the time you were looking all over for me, and I was asleep in bed?

Daisy: I guess I do daydream a lot. Do you really think he likes me?

All the other does laugh.

Violet: Apparently you’re the only one who doesn’t know. (Pauses) I wonder if we can jump over the stream.

Amber: I bet I can.

She takes off running and lands on the other bank. The dirt gives way and she lands in the water. She looks at the others; they shake their heads “no”. Each one takes a turn. The only one who can land on the other side is Daphne. The other does are jumping around and splashing in the water.

Daphne: Shhh! I think I hear something in the bushes.

The others get out of the stream as quietly as possible There is definitely something behind the bushes. Panicked, they try to decide which way to run. As they start to run away from the bushes, they hear a familiar voice.

Stag: Girls! Don’t run away! It’s only us. We got bored by ourselves and decided to come over to see what you’re doing.

He looks very handsome, standing there and tossing his head. There are several young bucks with him. They have food and something to drink. The girls aren’t sure what to do.

Daphne: Stag! You can’t stay here. You know we’re not allowed to be with you.

Stag looks at her with big brown eyes.

Stag (sounding hurt): Are you kicking us out? We won’t hurt you. I promise. And I want you to try my special party mix. I think you’ll like how it makes you feel.

Stag wasn’t really sure what the special ingredient was. He had been in the forest and saw a field with some type of grass he couldn’t identify. He started to eat some of it and a human came out of the woods with a gun. He was waving the gun around and said. “Deer, you eat my weed and I’ll shoot you. Get out of here!” Stag had been very confused. He thought humans didn’t like weeds. In a few minutes he felt so relaxed he fell asleep. The next time he didn’t eat as much and just felt calm. He thought the girls might let them stay if they ate some.

Daphne: I guess it wouldn’t hurt to try it. But after that, you have to leave.

 

The elder Bucks were relaxing at home. Suddenly they heard a crashing sound. Startled, they looked up and saw Violet’s father, Tiny. He was called Tiny because he was the largest deer in the forest.

Tiny: Hello, neighbors! I was out getting a snack and thought I’d stop by to see the girls. It’s getting dark, and I thought an escort home might be a good idea.

Mr. B: Excellent idea! I’ll come with you.

With Tiny stopping to graze regularly, it took the bucks a while to get to the meadow. When they arrived, they found the bucks and does sitting in a circle talking.

Mr. B: I thought we said no bucks.

Tiny: Actually we said no Stag. Let’s find out what’s going on. (Steps in.) Hi girls, how’s it going?

Violet (startled): Hi, Daddy. What are you doing here? (Looks at the bucks.) We were just talking.

Billy (stands up): Yes, sir. We heard the girls having fun in the water and came over. I hope we didn’t get anyone in trouble.

Mr. B: I guess there’s no problem. You boys are all part of the herd. (Looks around) Daisy, where’s Daphne?

Daisy (vaguely): She around here somewhere.

Mr. B: WHERE IS SHE?

Daisy points her nose toward the river. Mr. B walks over and finds Daphne and Stag nuzzling by the river.

The other deer can’t make out what is being said, but Stag comes crashing through the meadow into the woods. Daphne and Mr. B join the others.

Mr. B: Tiny, would it be OK for Daisy to walk home with you? I need to speak with Daphne privately.

Tiny nodded and all the other deer left the two of them in the meadow.

 

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.