7

No Hippopotamus for Christmas

Image result for hippos

 

Editors: Before Christmas, Cat kept singing a stupid song about wanting a hippopotamus for Christmas

Apparently she was only kidding, or the other humans had more common sense, because there were no animals under the tree. Don’t get us wrong. You know we’re all about animals here in Cheeseland. But most of the animals work from their native habitat, and we weren’t sure there is enough space here for a hippo.

We wanted to do some research and asked R. Tavi, our Asian correspondent, to take a trip to Africa.

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I went to Kenya to speak with Nala, an East African hippopotamus. I first thing I noticed was that hippos are really big.

Tavi: Good morning Nala

Nala: Good morning. Don’t bother asking. I weigh 1,200 pounds. I don’ know why everyone is so interested in my weight. I have a big skeleton. In fact it runs in the family, the hippo family. We’re big animals. My husband weighs 2,000 pounds. Get over it.

Tavi: I apologize. I just don’t get around large animals much. I live in India. We have elephants, but that’s about it.

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Nala (huffily): Then you should have seen someone bigger than me.

Tavi (trying to change the subject): So what do hippos generally eat?

Nala: You want to find out why I’m so big? For your information, we hippos live on salad. I have never touched meat. And I don’t eat sugar. I’m not fat. It’s just genetics.

Tavi: I apologize. I obviously have offended you. Perhaps we could start over.

Nala: I suppose that might work.

Tavi: How do you spend your days?

Nala: It’s pretty hot here. I like to be submerged in the water most of day. There is excellent eating in the lake. Once in a while I go over there. (Points at some yams growing in a field.) I love yams.

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Tavi: Doesn’t the farmer object to you raiding his field?

Nala: What do you mean “raiding”? If he didn’t want hippos in his field, he shouldn’t have planted so close to the lake.

Tavi: So it’s an amicable relationship.

Nala: Not really. I’d really be just as happy if he would just go away. Then I wouldn’t have to try to kill him every time he comes after me.

Tavi is beginning to wonder if there was anything they could talk about that wouldn’t upset the hippo.

Tavi: What do you like to do for fun?

Nala (giggling): My favorite is to fling dung at people and other animals.

Tavi: It doesn’t sound like you’re very fond of humans.

Nala (growling): I hate humans! They bring their stupid boats into our lakes and try to take pictures of us. It serves them right when we tip over their boats and kill them. They’re lucky we’re not carnivores.

Image result for hippos and boats

Tavi: I suppose you’re right. You’re very fond of living here, aren’t you?

Nala: It’s a wonderful place. Cool water, good food, warm sun.

Tavi: I don’t suppose you’d be interested in traveling, would you?

Nala: Never. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

Tavi: Thank you for your time. I wish you well.

Nala: Thank you.

Tavi returns home understanding why hippos have a reputation for being aggressive. He can’t imagine why Cat would want to bring one home.

Image result for large hippos

All pictures courtesy of Google Images, video from Youtube.

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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…