15

The Biennial Bears’ Bonfire – Part 4

Romanian specialists teach orphaned bear cubs how to survive in ...

Background: Every two years Zeke, Anthony, Joe, and Benjamin got together for a week-long camping trip at the lake. One of the highlights of the trip was story-time around the bonfire. This year’s topic is “Chance Encounter With Another Species”. You can read Zeke’s story here. Anthony’s story is here. Joe’s story is here.

This is Benjamin’s story.

Image result for fox chasing rabbit (With images) | Fox, Animals ...

My son Beau and I were out gathering some last minute supplies for the winter when we saw a fox race past chasing a couple of young rabbits. It really didn’t look good for the rabbits. We didn’t have time to see who it was.

The next thing we knew, one of the rabbits was tugging on Beau’s paw. The fox had cornered her brother in some bushes, and she wanted Beau to help him get free. She must have been pretty desperate to come to a bear for help. We didn’t know her, but the forest was full of rabbits.

American Black Bear | MDC Discover Nature

Beau and I looked at each other. I was going to explain that it was probably too late, but she looked so sad that I didn’t have the heart. He was her only family. We told her to wait there, hidden from view, while we went to see what was going on.

We followed the tracks and found the fox. It was Jasper, one of our neighbors. He was still hunting, so the rabbit was alive. I guess we startled Jasper, though. He looked irritated when we approached him. He told us that he had been hunting a rabbit for dinner when we tromped up. Now he probably had lost it.

Red Fox Diet - Hunting Strategies & Behaviour | Wildlife Online

Jasper started to walk around, sniffing. He found the scent of the rabbit again. He ran into the forest. We followed him, and I asked him to stop. He had cornered the bunny, but we startled him before he could attack. Jasper turned his head to look at us.

Before Jasper had a chance to start yelling, I told him that we wanted him to give us the bunny. Jasper thought I had lost my mind. It was his dinner. Besides, bears don’t eat rabbits. Why would we want it?

Wild Baby Bunnies and What To do When You Find Them - Effective ...

I explained that the rabbit’s sister had asked us to rescue him. She didn’t want to lose her only family. Jasper looked at us and started to laugh. He’d never heard of a rabbit being that brave before.

We waited to see whether Jasper would release the rabbit. I wasn’t sure that the poor thing hadn’t died from fright. It had its body pressed against the ground. Jasper looked at the rabbit and decided to let him go. He couldn’t kill something after a story like that. He’d have leftovers for dinner.

Scared little wild rabbit | timeuser | Flickr

The little rabbit was frozen in terror. Beau went over and petted him. There wasn’t any response, so Beau picked him up and we took him back to his sister.

She was exhilarated when she saw us. She had been sure that we had just gone home. The little male rabbit finally relaxed when he saw her.

cuddling rabbits | Two wild rabbits on Haigh Hall golf cours ...

We asked if they needed help getting home. The girl rabbit said that their home had been destroyed; that’s why they were in the area. We decided to take them home with us to relax after all the excitement. They fell asleep almost immediately.

They decided to build their new burrow near our den, since we were the first friends they made in the area.

Waking From Hibernation, the Hard Work of Spring Begins - The New ...

 

17

The Animal Rights Coalition – Part 3

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Where we are: The Animal Rights Coalition (ARC) tried to take a petition to a human council meeting, but were barred from entering. ARC wanted the humans to stop using animal names as insults. A guard took the petition and said that he would give it to council.

Two weeks went by before the animals received a letter from W. Charles Smith, President of the Council on Human/Animal Relations:

Dear Animals

We have received your petition listing your concerns about us using your names as insults. We appreciate your bringing this matter to our attention. I have assigned a committee to look into the matter.

Sincerely

W.C. Smith

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Julie Giraffe: Those rotten rutabagas! They’re just trying to get rid of us.

Roni Baboon: You’re right, Julie. They’re not going to do anything.

Chester Rabbit: I’m afraid you’re right. We’ll have to try something else.

Ralph Badger: Let’s dig under their building and let it collapse.

Benny Buffalo: No, let’s stampede them.

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Simon Skunk: No, we should sabotage their air filtration.

Chester: Calm down, everyone. That’s not going to make anyone happy. We need to work together.

Chrissy Calico: I don’t know what we can do. They don’t respect us at all. Remember what he called us? “Cute.” Humans don’t pay attention to “cute”.

Gregg Bear: OK, let me talk to them. They won’t think I’m cute and cuddly. I’m over 500 pounds of muscle and fur.

Ivan Tiger: I’ll go too. I can growl loud enough to scare any human.

Ralph: I guess that will work. But be polite. Otherwise, they’ll call you animals.

Chrissy: They are animals.

Ralph: I know. But humans use it as an insult.

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Gregg and Ivan walked over to the Council Hall and went in the front door. The receptionist looked up and asked if she could help them.

Ivan: Yes, thank you. We would like to see Mr. Smith, please.

Receptionist: Do you have an appointment?

Ivan: No, we don’t. Please tell him we’re from ARC.

Receptionist (knowing there would be trouble if she let a bear and a tiger into the building): Mr. Smith doesn’t see anyone without an appointment.

Ivan: Please tell him that we won’t take up much of his time.

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Receptionist (beginning to get nervous): I’m sorry, but you’ll have to make an appointment.

Ivan: Please just ask.

Receptionist: All right. Let me check.

She called someone and said that there was a bear and a tiger to see Charles. No, they weren’t threatening. They were very polite. She listened, then hung up the phone.

Receptionist: Someone will be out shortly.

Ivan: Thank you.

Ivan and Gregg moved to the side of the lobby and waited. Before long, two security guards arrived.

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Security Guard: What seems to be the problem?

Ivan: There isn’t a problem. We just want to see Mr. Smith.

Security Guard: Didn’t the lady tell you you’d need an appointment?

Ivan: Yes, she did. We just need a minute of his time.

Guard: He won’t see you. You need to leave.

Ivan: Why won’t he see us?

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The guard didn’t want to tell them that Mr. Smith was afraid of large animals.

Guard: He can see whoever he wants.

Gregg: That’s ridiculous. Just let us past. We’ll find him ourselves.

Guard (nervously): You need to go now.

Ivan was getting irritated. He let out a low growl. Gregg took a step toward the guard.

Gregg: Now see here…

Guard: Leave this minute or I’ll call the police.

Gregg: Let us past you.

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The guard picked up the phone.

Guard: Yes, we need you at the Council Hall. There’s a bear and a tiger here. We need you to get them out of here. They’re meaner than grizzlies.

Gregg: I AM a grizzly.

Guard: I mean they’re madder than wet hens.

Gregg and Ivan looked at each other in disgust and stalked out the door.

Ivan: I guess we’ll have to get a lawyer.

He took out his phone and entered the number.

Voice: Sharkfin and Sharkfin, Attorneys-at-Law. How may I help you?

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12

The Animal Rights Coalition – Part 2

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Where we are: The Animal Rights Coalition (ARC) has decided that they need to send a petition to the humans telling them how offensive they found the use of animals in a lot of the human insults.

Douglas Gorilla was ready to read the petition that his group had put together to the rest of the members.

Douglas: We spent quite a lot of time putting this together and would like the input of everyone else to make it as good as possible.

Image result for gorilla readinggo

Dear Humans

We would like you to reconsider your usage of animal names in your insults. For example, “hairy as an ape,” is not considered an insult in our world. We would appreciate you not using it in such a manner either. There are many other examples of problem phrases.

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We feel that such insults stereotype us, generally in a negative way. You use “snake in the grass” to define someone who looks harmless, but can’t be trusted. Snakes live in the grass because that’s a logical place for someone to be who doesn’t have feet or legs. They only feel threatened if someone comes near. Humans with big feet and boots are especially scary to snakes.

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We would be happy to work with you to create a list of more appropriate insults at whatever time and place is convenient for you. We will provide a translator, if you like.

You may respond to carabbit@arcanimals.org, We look forward to hearing from you.

 Sincerely,

Animal Rights Coalition

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Douglas: We thought that everyone could sign so they know it’s a group effort.

Ida Hyena: I think it’s great. If I hear one more “laughing like a hyena joke,” I might have to bare my teeth in public.

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Jeni Dodo: I agree. We could suggest that they could just use “dumb as a rock,” rather than “dodo”, it would be great.

Chester: All in favor of sending the petition?

The result was unanimous. They decided that they would deliver the petition by hand/paw. Chester and Chrissy Calico were chosen so the humans wouldn’t feel intimidated.

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A few days later, Chester and Chrissy went to a human council meeting. They were stopped at the door.

Guard: This is a human meeting. No animals.

Chester: We just want to deliver a petition to your council.

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Guard: Let me check.

He called someone on his phone. Chester and Chrissy waited patiently. The guard explained the situation. They heard him say, “Actually, they’re pretty cute. Nothing dangerous at all.”

Guard: He said that you can’t go in, but I can take your petition and they will look at it after the meeting and get back with you.

Chester and Chrissy looked at each other. It seemed like there was no other option. They gave the petition to the guard.Image result for rabbit and cat

Next week: What will the humans do with the petition? Will they even look at it?

 

All pictures courtesy of Google Images.

 

 

 

 

8

The Animal Rights Coalition

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Chester Rabbit called the quarterly meeting of the Animal Rights Coalition (ARC) to order.

Chester: Welcome everyone. We need to finish one item from our last meeting before we can move on to today’s agenda. We have to finish our discussion about how to address the human use of animal names as insults. The first thing we need to do is reopen the topic.

The animals started to talk among themselves. This item was very important to all of them and they were eager to get back to work.

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Buddy Squirrel: I move to reopen the topic.

Ralph Badger: I second the motion.

Chester: All right. How many in favor?

Paws and hands went up around the room.

Chester: How many opposed?

Dead silence.

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Chester: The motion passed. Ballou, please turn on the recorder.

Ballou Bear, whose mother was a huge movie fan, flipped the switch. It was so much easier to get started now that they could record rather than manually write down the notes. The simians had insisted on the purchase. They were tired of always being the ones to write.

Chester: The best way to start is to identify exactly what we mean by insults. Remember the rules: no talking over others, no arguing with someone’s ideas, and no intimidation. One idea per animal. If you choose to present multiple ideas, wait until after the others have had their turn.

The animals quickly lined up to speak:

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“catty/catfight” – Why is it that when two women say nasty things to each other it’s being catty? We’re not mean. But even worse, if they end up actually hitting each other, it’s a catfight? Everyone knows that most of us don’t fight, and if we do, it’s most likely the males.

“eat like a pig/act like a pig” – Where did we get the reputation that we’re sloppy and eat too much? We’re actually clean animals; we use the mud to cool off. And we don’t eat that much compared to what we weight. We’re this big because of the way we’re made, not because we eat too much.

“dog-faced/dog” – Why are we the standard for ugly? We’re just like every other species. Some of us are good looking, some not so much. But to classify all of us as ugly is just mean.

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“eat like a bird” – They say it like it’s some kind of eating disorder. We eat like we do because we have beaks. We can’t pick up a lot of food at one time. We eat all through the day; we need energy for flying.

“ugly duckling” – This insult is just rude. Why would you call someone’s child ugly? We know it’s because the baby swan didn’t look like the baby ducks, but that doesn’t mean it was really ugly.

“batty/bats in the belfry” – What makes us the standard for crazy? We fly at night, but so do owls, and they’re supposed to be wise. As far as hanging out in a belfry, it’s a good place to sleep. It’s high, it’s isolated, and the humans can’t get at us.

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“a leopard can’t change his spots” – Of course we can’t. That would be like asking them to change their skin. Why does that get connected to people who can’t change their bad habits? Our fur is not something that should be changed.

“big as a cow” – we agree with the pigs. Just because we’re made a certain way doesn’t entitle humans to use it to insult other humans. Maybe they should be more like us and just accept each other.

“badger someone” – We’re persistent and thorough. How did that get translated into a person who becomes offensive trying to make a point? It seems like they don’t even understand how any of us really are.

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The other animals all nodded in agreement.

Chester: I think that’s a good start. Now we need a few animals to draft our petition to the humans. Is anyone interested?

A bear, two gorillas, and a beaver all agreed to work on something.

Chester: Does anyone want to schedule an extra meeting for next month to decide what our next steps will be?

Douglas Gorilla: So moved.

Ballou: Second.

The motion passed.

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Next week: Do the animals think the petition is ready to go to the humans?

11

The Rabbits’ New Home – Part 3

 

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Where we are: The Rabbit family went for a walk one winter morning. When they arrived back home, they discovered a huge drift of snow over the opening to their burrow. The snow was so deep that they were unable to dig through it. Luckily, they’ve been helped by a hawk, a deer, and a badger. You can read part 1 here and part 2 here.

Wally the badger reappeared a little bit later with a whole crew of badgers.

Jonathan: Now there’s a herd of them. We’re doomed for sure.

Wally (sighing): Son, we’re badgers, not cows. A group of badgers is called a clan. And we’re here to help, not eat you.

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Molly Deer: Jonathan, honey, why don’t you and Pamela stay over here. Your daddy needs to talk to these nice badgers and explain the problem.

Pete: I really appreciate you bringing all your buddies here to help us Wally. I just don’t know if you can. We could barely find the spot before the most recent storm. I don’t want you to go all that way just for me to get you lost.

Wally: Well, Mr. Rabbit, there are two things we badgers are good at. That’s smelling and digging. If you’ll pardon me saying so, rabbits have a particular odor. We should be able to pick it up if you get us near.

Pete: Please call me Pete. Well, if you think you can do it, let’s go.

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Pete Rabbit and the badgers set out for the rabbits’ home. The snow had crusted over, so it was much easier traveling than during the storm. Pete found the apple tree by the back of the burrow. He explained that the back of the burrow was somewhere around the base of the tree, but it was buried even deeper than the front entrance. While he was explaining the problem, a few of the badgers moved away and put their noses to the ground and started to paw at the snow.

Barry Badger: Wally! I think I have the scent. Let’s dig a little.

The group rapidly moved through the snow.

Wally: He’s right, Pete. We’re definitely in the right place.

The badgers continued to burrow through the snow. Suddenly someone yelled, “Eureka! We found it!” Pete quickly hopped down the tunnel and discovered that they were right. It was his burrow.

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Pete: You guys are absolutely amazing. I don’t know how to thank you.

Wally: It’s our pleasure. It was good to have something to do. The winters get pretty boring around here.

The other badgers nodded. The group went back to the deer shelter, so Pete could get his family.

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Pete: These guys are incredible. They found our burrow! We can get in the back door. And they got rid of so much snow that we have a tunnel to get down there.

Susie: Wally, you’re incredible. I don’t know what we would have done without you. I was afraid that we were going to be homeless for the rest of the winter.

Jonathan: Mr. Badger, I’m sorry. You guys really are wonderful.

Jonathan hopped over to Wally and hugged him. Wally blushed and hugged him back. They all sat around for a while talking. Finally, the rabbits left to enjoy their home, secure in the knowledge that if they needed it, help was all around them.

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All pictures courtesy of Google Images

13

The Rabbits’ New Home – Part 2

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Where we are: The Rabbit family went for a walk one winter morning. When they arrived back home, they discovered that the wind had blown a huge drift of snow over the opening to their burrow. The snow was so deep that they were unable to dig through it. Luckily, a friendly hawk came along and showed them the way to a deer shelter.

Pamela Rabbit slowly woke up. She realized that it smelled strange in her room. She looked around. She slowly remembered that she wasn’t home, she was with some deer that had helped them the day before.

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Pamela: Mom! Mom!

Susie: Stop shouting. I’m right here.

The rabbit parents were talking with several of the deer.

Pamela: What’s going on?

Jonathan: They’re trying to figure out how to get us home.

Pamela: There’s a whole bunch of then. Can’t they just help us dig?

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Jonathan: You’re goofy, sis. Deer don’t burrow.

Pamela: Oh yeah. I guess not. What’s going to happen?

Jonathan: They haven’t been able to figure that out. If you go out of this bunch of trees, you can see that it’s been snowing. A lot.

Pete Rabbit, seeing that Pamela had finally gotten up, went over to the children.

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Pete: How’s it going, kids? Get enough sleep, Pamela?

Pamela: It was very nice. One of the lady deer let me sleep cuddled up next to her. It was so nice and warm. Are we going home soon?

Pete: We’ve been talking with the adult deer. The weather has gotten really bad.  The deer have graciously asked us to stay until the storm is over.

Jonathan: We’re not going to stay here forever, are we?

Pete: Of course not. But it’s too windy and snowy to do anything else right now.

Pamela: OK. Then I’m going back to sleep.

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Pete and Jonathan laughed. The storm lasted three days. Finally, the sun came out again. But the snow had almost doubled on the ground. The rabbits were in despair. How would they get home?

Susie: I guess we should have built that emergency burrow.

Pete: You’re right. But it’s too late to worry about that.

Molly: You’re welcome to stay with us as long as you’d like.

Susie: That’s very kind of you. But we don’t want to take up your space and food any longer than we have to.

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They heard a rustling in the trees. The rabbits wanted to run, but there was nowhere to go.

Voice: Hi Ho, Neighbors! What do you think of our lovely weather?

A little more rustling, and a very large badger emerged through the bushes. The rabbits were terrified.

Pamela: We’re going to get eaten. I know we are. First the hawk. Now a badger.

Jonathan: Look how big he is, he must eat a lot.

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Molly: Wally Badger! How did you get here through all that snow?

Wally: It’s not so bad. I just dug a tunnel over here.  It was a little lonely in the burrow.

Wally looked around and spotted the rabbits. He ran over to them.

Wally: Bunnies! I love bunnies!

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Jonathan: Are you going to eat us?

Wally (puzzled): Why would I eat you? I just had breakfast.

Molly: Let me introduce you. Wally Badger, this is Pete and Susie Rabbit and their children, Jonathan and Pamela. They got shut out of their home by the storm, and we’re trying to help them get back in.

Wally: I’m sorry to hear that. Maybe I can help. We badgers are terrific diggers you know.

Pete: I’m not sure. It must be awfully deep by now.

Wally: Well there’s only one way to find out. Let me get some friends. I’ll be back in a bit.

Wally raced off before anyone else had a chance to say anything.

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Next week: Badgers to the rescue.

 

All pictures courtesy of Google Images

16

The Rabbits’ New Home

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The morning after a huge snowfall, the Rabbit family decided to go for a walk. It was a beautiful morning. The sun was shining and it wasn’t bitterly cold. The snow was like a blanket covering the forest.

Susie Rabbit: Look, kids! Isn’t it beautiful?

Pamela: The wind is ruffling my fur!

Jonathan: You made me get up out of my nice warm bed. I’m cold.

Pete: Quit grumbling. Your mother’s right. The forest is beautiful after snow. Everything is so bright.

Suddenly a gust of wind came through that ruffled everyone’s fur. It seemed to get colder.

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Susie: I guess it is a little windy. Let’s get some food and go back home. That looks like some nice bushes over there.

They hopped over and got their fill of twigs. The wind started blowing again.

Pete: Let’s go! Follow me.

The rabbits hopped in the direction of home. It seemed to take a lot longer than it did coming out.

Jonathan: Where’s our burrow, Dad?

Pamela: Shouldn’t we have been there by now?

Pete: We should be there soon.

They hopped along for a few minutes longer. Pete saw a tree and realized that they had hopped past where they should have stopped.

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Pete: That’s odd. There’s the big apple tree. We should have found our burrow a few minutes ago.

Susie: We hid it pretty well. Let’s go back. We had a lot of snow and it probably looks different.

Pamela: Sure, Mom. Like we wouldn’t recognize our home.

Jonathan: They’re right. We’ve gone too far.

The rabbits hopped back and forth without any luck. The kids were starting to panic.

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Pamela (crying): Where’s our burrow? We’re going to freeze to death!

Susie: Don’t worry. Your father built it. I’m sure he can find it.

They could barely hear Pete’s voice.

Pete: I found it! It’s over here.

The rest hop over to him. They look around and don’t see anything.

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Jonathan: That’s not funny, Dad. It’s cold out here.

Pete: I’m not joking. Our burrow is down there.

He pointed to a large pile of snow that has appeared since they left the burrow that morning.

Susie: Oh, my goodness! He’s right. That tree over there is by the back of the burrow.

Jonathan: What do we do now?

Pamela: Can we just use the back door?

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Pete: I can’t find it. We’ll have to dig this one out.

After a while of digging, they realized that there was too much snow to paw through by themselves. They would need to ask for help.

Pete: I guess we need to find someone to help.

Susie: Who would that be? Don’t you remember that you wanted to get away from the crowds? We’re a long way from the community warren.

Jonathan: Look! It’s starting to snow.

Large flakes began to fall on the rabbits. Pamela started to cry again. Pete looked defeated. He didn’t know what to do. Suddenly, they heard a loud voice.

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Voice: Rabbits! Hey, Rabbits!

Pete: Who is that? I can’t see you.

Voice: Look up. It’s me.

They looked up and saw that it was Eddie, a local hawk.

Jonathan: What a great day. First, we lose our house. Now we’re going to get eaten.

Eddie: I’m hurt. If I wanted to eat you, I could have done it before now. You seem like nice rabbits. I can show you the way to some deer I know. They don’t dig, but at least it’s warmer there.

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Susie: How do we know we can trust him?

Pete: Do you have a better idea?

They followed Eddie. It seemed like a long way, and Eddie talked all the way. Apparently hawks get lonely in the winter when some of their friends migrate. Finally, they came  upon a sheltered spot.

Eddie: Molly! Hey Molly!

A large female deer got up and walked out of the shelter.

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Molly: Eddie! We haven’t seen you for a while. How’s it going?

Eddie: Not bad. But these guys need your help.

He pointed at the rabbits. They shivered and looked exhausted.

Molly: Oh, you poor things!

Eddie: They’ve had some bad luck. Their burrow disappeared when a bunch of snow fell on it. They didn’t have anywhere to go. I thought maybe you could keep them warm until they figure out what to do.

Molly: Of course, we will. You come with me.

The rabbits thanked Eddie and followed Mollie. They were too cold and tired to think about anything. When they entered the shelter, a couple of does shifted positions to give them somewhere to lie down. Soon everyone was asleep.

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Next week: Will the rabbits be able to get back into their burrow before spring?

 

All pictures courtesy of Google Images.

15

Cheeseland Police Blotter

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Like every other community, we have some crime here in Cheeseland. Below is a summary of what happened during the week ending April, 27, 2018. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty.

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Gorilla charged with assault. Alice G., a mountain gorilla, was dining alone when she saw a giant banana walking toward a table. “It just looked too delicious to ignore,” Alice reported. Allegedly, Alice walked over to the banana and tried to peel it. Unfortunately, the “banana” turned out to be an actor auditioning for a part in a commercial. The actor thought he would impress the director by appearing in costume. Alice has a court date on May 11. No word on whether the actor got the part.

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Raccoon charged with breaking and entering. Rocky, a neighborhood raccoon, was walking down the street when he smelled a delicious aroma. “It smelled just like my wife’s stew,” according to Rocky. Entranced by the smell, Rocky allegedly jumped in the window and sat at the kitchen table. In his rush, Rocky knocked over three plants and a television. Unfortunately, Rocky also didn’t notice that he wasn’t entering his own house. The owner said that Rocky had made the same mistake on two other occasions, and this time they were going to press charges. Rocky has a court date on May 8.

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Koala charged with driving under the influence. Danny K., a koala bear from nearby Critter Cove, was stopped by the police for weaving in and out of his lane while he was driving. When he got out of the car, police allegedly smelled eucalyptus on his breath. “Hey. No worries; it all natural,” Danny is reported to have told the police. The police took away his keys and drove him home. Danny has a court date on May 10 and faces the possibility of losing his license.

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Cat charged with trespassing. Oscar C., a large Maine Coon, was out for a walk on a hot day when he became extremely tired. Being an exceptionally furry cat, he looked for a shady place to nap.  Oscar found what he says he thought was an abandoned tree house. He woke up to hissing and spitting from the feline owners of the house. Currently there is a restraining order keeping Oscar at least two blocks from the tree house.

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Magpie charged with theft. Maggie M., part of the notorious Henry Magpie crime family, is accused of breaking into several houses and stealing jewelry. Maggie does not deny that she took the jewelry. She is claiming that, as a magpie, she is naturally drawn to shiny things. Maggie has used this defense successfully on several occasions. Prosecutors are requesting a hearing before a judge rather than a trial by her peers.

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Donkeys charged with creating a public disturbance. Joe and Jack, two donkey brothers, went to a theater to see the latest Superhog movie, a comedy about pigs pretending to be superheroes. The brothers sat in the last row of the theater and munched loudly on their straw salads. Once the movie started, the brothers began to bray and talk to each other. One patron said she couldn’t even hear the movie over the braying. After several requests to quiet down, the ushers escorted the donkeys out of the theater. The donkeys protested that braying is how donkeys laugh. One patron has filed a complaint against the brothers. They have a date with an administrative law judge on May 18.

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Parrots charged with using profanity in public.  A group of parrots were enjoying a day at the park. It was a beautiful day and the park was crowded. A small squirrel ran up to her parents and asked what *&#@# meant. The parents were appalled and asked her where she heard such language. She pointed at the parrots. The squirrels went to the park ranger who told the parrots that they couldn’t use that language in the park. Allegedly the parrots told the ranger that they had learned the words from the humans. The ranger told them it didn’t matter where they learned the words, they had to leave. She also gave them a citation with a court date of May 4.

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all pictures courtesy of Google Images

17

Happy Easter Billy Bilby!

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We’d like to introduce you to a special animal, the Easter Bilby. He’s a celebrity in Australia although he may be less known by some of you. The Easter Bilby is busy this time of year, so we’re going to talk to a close friend.

Billy Bilby, welcome to Cheeseland. Thank you for taking the time to introduce us to the Easter Bilby.

No worries, I’m happy to be here and spread the word about the Easter Bilby. After all, we bilbies are having a problem with our population declining and want people to be aware that we even exist.

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On that note, can you tell us a little bit about bilbies?

We’re small, furry marsupials who live in the desert. Our bodies are about 55 cm/22 inches long and our tails about 29 cm/11.5 inches. We weigh about 2.5 kg/5.5 pounds. We have long noses (excellent sense of smell) and large ears (excellent sense of hearing and help keep us cool). The ladies are about half the size of the gents.

We have extremely soft fur that is mainly blue-grey with white tummies. Bilbies live in fancy burrows. We only come out and night and will eat anything.

Two fun facts about bilbies?

The word bilby is from the Aboriginal Yuwaalaraay language. (I wouldn’t try to pronounce it unless you belong to the group.)

We don’t drink water. We get all we need from what we eat.  (Like koalas)

So how did the Easter Bilby replace the Easter Rabbit in Australia?

Unfortunately, rabbits are not very popular in Australia. They were brought in by the Brits in the 19th century and reproduced until they had taken over the country. Rabbits drove some of the native animals and plants to extinction.

In the 1990’s, the humans decided that the rabbit had to go as the symbol of Easter. They wanted something native to replace it. Since we look something like a rabbit (ears only), we got the job. We’ve been around Australia for a very long time.

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And the tradition has stuck.

Yes, but we’ve lost the association with the anti-rabbit people. Now it’s more of a survival issue. You see, we’re endangered in some parts of Australia and vulnerable in others.

That’s awful. What happened?

The usual: loss of habitat, hunting. I am actually a Greater Bilby. There used to be Lesser Bilbies, but they died out about 70 years ago. (Unless the humans lost them.)

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Is the Easter Bilby tradition working?

It seems to be. There is much greater awareness of who we are and why we are important residents of Australia. In fact, The Commonwealth of Australian Endangered Species Program has chosen us as a mascot, so we’re becoming famous.

They have even started to introduce populations of us into places that haven’t seen bilbies in a very long time. Did you know that we once populated 70% of Australia? And that’s a big place!

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What does the Easter Bilby do?

Pretty much what the Easter Bunny does. Except he delivers chocolate bilbies instead of chocolate rabbits. And he runs rather than hops.

Do you think the idea of the Easter Bilby will spread?

Probably not. The rabbits pretty much have a lock on the market. But that’s OK. We only live in Australia and want to continue living here for a very long time. We have no plans to invade Britain.

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

I’m happy to share.

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Trivia – In March 1968, 9-year-old Rose-Marie Dusting wrote “Billy the Aussie Easter Bilby.” She published it 11 years later.

Sales Pitch: Chocolate bilbies are produced by Pink Lady and Haigh’s Chocolates. (Cadbury pulled out of the market shortly before Easter.) The companies give a percentage of sales to conservation efforts. Pink Lady parent company, Fyna Foods manufactures chocolate bilbies as part of the Australian Bush Friends Easter chocolates. A percentage of the Bush Friends sales is also donated to the Save the Bilby Fund.