18

At the Watering Hole

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Mid-morning at a watering hole somewhere on the African savannah.

Zebra 1: Beautiful morning isn’t it?

Zebra 2: Did you hear that Ryan finally got up the nerve to ask Tammy to mate?

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Zebra 1: No! They’re so cute together. I bet they have beautiful colts.

Zebra 3: Hmmmph! She is such a flirt! She led my Tony on that she would mate with him.

The first two zebras look at each other.

Zebra 2: Well, I’m sure Tony will find a nice girl too.

Zebra 3: You bet he will. Then she’ll be sorry.

Further along.

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Warthog 1: This is a nice place. How did you find it?

Warthog 2: I was talking to a guy who told me how to get here. Said there was a lot of good water and a fairly low predator to prey ratio.

Warthog 1: You should have brought him along.

Warthog 2: Unfortunately, he got eaten not too long after we met.

Silence.Image result for gazelle

Gazelle 1: Did you hear the hyenas last night?

Gazelle 2: It sounded like there were a lot of them.

Gazelle 1: I know. It was very strange. The last time I saw the pack there were only 3 or 4 of them.

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Gazelle 3: I heard a rumor that they have some kind of machine that can make it sound like there are lots of them even when there aren’t. I think it’s called a fone or something like that.

Gazelle 1: Should have known. Those guys are always trying to figure out some kind of scam.

The watering hole goes silent as the group of lionesses approach. Slowly the animals start to back away.

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Lioness 1: Take your time. We’re here to relax, not hunt.

The other animals quickly move away.

Lioness 2: They never trust us.

Lioness 3: Well, we do eat them.

Lioness 2: That’s no excuse for bad manners.

Lioness 1: Did you hear what Leonidis said just before we left?

Lioness 3: I wasn’t listening.Image result for ostrich

Lioness 1: He’s bored with eating zebras and gazelles. He wants something exotic for dinner.

Lioness 2: Did he mention what this exotic dinner was supposed to be?

Lioness 1: He wants an ostrich.

Lioness 3: There aren’t any ostriches around here.

Lioness 1: The new girl told him she had eaten a couple and they’re delicious.

Lioness 2: Then let the new girl get one for him.

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Lioness 1: He wants her to teach the new cubs how to pounce.

Lioness 2 (sarcastically): Well, isn’t she special.

Lioness 3: I wish Leonidis hadn’t heard that human refer to him as “King of the Jungle”.

Lioness 2: I know. It went straight to his head.

Lioness 1: Humans are so much trouble. We don’t even live in a jungle.

They hear a roar in the distance.

Lioness 1: Time to get to work.

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all pictures courtesy of Google Images

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11

Warthogs Don’t Really Have Warts

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Horatio Hedgehog here. Cat has asked the staff to use our space to talk about different types of animals. I chose the warthog. I thought there was something cool about a hedge-hog writing about a wart-hog. Besides, it was the strangest looking animal I could find.

Warthogs hang out in the same savannahs as my wild cousins. I thought that I could get a flight to southern Africa and talk to some warthogs and maybe see the old country. I didn’t know that humans are so fussy about who they let on planes. They only let hedgehogs fly as pets (!) of a human. Then at the end of the flight, they would have made me sit in a cage for 30 days while the human gets to go straight to their hotel!

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Since there was no way I was going to subject myself to such treatment, I called the hedgehog embassy in Botswana. The very nice lady set me up with an interpreter who would join the warthogs on Skype so I could talk to them.

Almost immediately, we ran into a problem. Warthogs are incredibly shy. Apparently there was an incident with the wildlife magazine Savannah Animals Monthly. The month that it featured warthogs, there was a picture of a watering hole on the cover. The photography editor had decided that warthogs were too ugly to put on the cover. Since the editor is a dung beetle, I’m not really sure why the warthogs were so humiliated.

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So I ended up on a conference call with Asha the warthog and the interpreter. Asha was very charming. Unfortunately she was constantly distracted by her four piglets. Although warthogs are related to domestic pigs, their anatomy limits their litters to four piglets. From the sound of it, that is about three too many.

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She said that warthogs find the English name for their species very offensive. They have protective patches of thick skin on their faces, not warts. She asked me to let someone know of their dissatisfaction. Perhaps the President. I told her I would see what I could do. Perhaps it was better that she couldn’t see my face at that point.

Their family group lived on a moist savannah so she gets to spend a lot of time in the water and wallowing in the mud. It’s a wonderful way to stay cool in the hot sun. However, she has a cousin who lives in a dry savannah. That group of warthogs can go several months without water. Asha commented that she didn’t know how her cousin could possibly live without mud as a beauty treatment.

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Asha and her piglets spend their days grazing and bathing. Some warthogs eat small animals, but she and her friends are dedicated vegetarians. Don’t want to gain too much wait and start to look like a guy after all.

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Warthogs sleep in holes. Asha is proud of her home. It’s a top-of-the-line aardvark dwelling with a thick grass carpet. She brags that her piglets are never cold during the cool nights, unlike the piglets who have to live in do-it-yourself holes.

Asha stressed that her tusks are mainly for show. She would never think of attacking anything. In fact, if any sort of danger approaches she backs into a hole and shows her tusks as a deterrent to the aggressor.

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She says that some of the young male warthogs do use their tusks to challenge other young males for a female. Unfortunately the tusks are sharp and the fight may be fatal. She proudly tells me that four males died for her. I tell her she must be a very good-looking warthog. I try not to choke on the words. Asha seems pleased by the compliment.

I ask her whether she has anything she would like to add. She reminds me that she would like me to speak to the President about calling her species something other than warthog. I tell her I will do my best. I don’t mention that our president can’t even speak cat, much less hedgehog.

 

From Michigan (not Botswana),

Horatio

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