11

Felines and Friends Academy Elections – Part 2

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Where we are: Bella Bear is frustrated that cats run everything at the Academy. She talks to the cats about it, and they recommend that she run for student government office. Her friend Daphne agrees, but Bella isn’t too sure.

Bella couldn’t decide what to do. She knew that the cats ad Daphne were right. Someone had to represent the other animals, but why did it have to be her? Maybe she could get someone else to run. But who?

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Bella: Ollie, don’t you think the rest of the animals deserve representation in the student government?

Ollie: That’s a great idea, Bella! We otters have almost nothing in common with the cats. Sometimes it’s hard to get them to understand what we’re saying.

Bella: Exactly. That’s why I thought you would be the perfect animal for us to get behind. The rest of us could help with signs, social media, —

Ollie: Wait a minute, Bella. I said it was a great idea. I don’t have time to do it. I’m captain of the swim team, do gymnastics, and still need to study.

Bella: I understand. Do you have any ideas?

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Ollie: I would ask one of the squirrels. They always seem to have extra time to run around.

Bella: Good idea. Thanks.

Bella finally found the squirrels racing around the courtyard. She asked them to stop so she could explain her idea.

Joe: That’s a wonderful idea. We’re all behind you. Just tell us what you need us to do.

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The other squirrels nodded.

Becky: We could make signs and hold rallies.

Bella: Actually, I was thinking that one of you could run for office.

Becky: I don’t think that’s a good idea. If we have two non-cats running, it would probably split our votes. You should definitely be our candidate.

Bella: I meant someone to run instead of me.

Joe: No, you’d stand a better chance of winning. Everyone takes bears more seriously than squirrels. They think we’re cute and brainless.

The other squirrels agreed. Bella thanked them and left. She talked to the sheep and goats. Everyone was enthusiastic about the idea, but no one wanted to be the first non-cat to run for office. She went through all the species in the school with no luck.

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The only one she hadn’t talked to was Greta, the red fox who was at the school as an exchange student. Bella decided to talk to her. Foxes were like dogs with fluffy tails, weren’t they? Surely a dog would want to run against a bunch of cats.

Bella: Hi, Greta. How are you?

Greta: I am well. How are you?

Bella: I’m fine. I was just wondering if you’d heard that we’re having student government elections in a few weeks?

Greta: Yes, I have. It sounds very exciting. I am looking forward to watching the whole process.

Bella: You might have noticed that all of our leaders are cats. We were thinking that it might be nice to have a non-cat run to offer a different viewpoint.

Greta: Yes. That does sound like a good idea. Other perspectives are always helpful to a group as a whole.

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Bella: I was hoping that you would be our candidate. I’m sure you have fresh ideas.

Greta: I am honored that you would think of me as a good candidate. But I really don’t understand how a student government works. Besides, I think that some students would have trouble understanding me. Not only is my native language fox, I have a rather thick accent when I speak cat.

Bella had to agree. Greta would probably need a translator at her rallies and speeches. She thanked Greta and walked away, dejected. Bella went to find Daphne.

Bella: I can’t believe it. No one wants to run for student government.

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Daphne: Why can’t you believe it? You don’t want to run. You had a great idea, and you won’t do anything to make it happen.

Bella: That’s not true. I’d do anything that was needed to get them elected.

Daphne: OK. Since no one will run, we’ll continue to do everything from the cats’ viewpoint. And you’ll keep complaining about it. But I don’t want to hear it. You had a chance to try to change it, and you walked away.

Bella: I’d never win.

 Daphne: That’s not the point. The rest of us need to stand up for ourselves. Besides, how do you know you won’t win?

Bella: I have no idea how to get animals to vote for me.

Daphne: The rest of us will work on that.

Bella went home to think about it. If anyone was going to do it, it would have to be her. Finally, she filled out the paperwork for the election. Now came the hard part.

Next week: Bella’s campaign and the election.

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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

Animal Playground Forced to Close

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“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.

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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

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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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)