(C) The Sunny Zoo 陽光動物園 2017
"Cutie! Can I speak to you for a second?"
Oops, that's Mrs Keeper again. And she's holding up a succulent pot and waving it at me, which is not a good sign. I pretend I haven't heard, and contemplate various possible escape routes: into Middle Island? Under the flower steps? Behind the succulent bush? Oh wait, better not remind her about more succulents.... oops, too late!
"Cutie!" she's already in front of me, bending down to stare me in the eyes, "Look at THIS! I thought we've already talked about this last week?"
Obediently I look into the pot. And don't see anything, which is a relief. "I don't see anything here, Mrs Keeper. What am I supposed to look at?"
"That's precisely the point!" exclaims Mrs Keeper, in a tone that somehow has my fur stand on end, "There was a pot full of sedum jelly beans in here YESTERDAY! Now there's NONE! How do you explain that?"
So that's what the triplets were doing in that corner this morning! Oh dear....
Mrs Keeper points to another pot on the ground, too heavy to hold up: "And this one? All these huernias nicely chewed in half? Whoever did it must have got a stomachache!"
Err, that was me, but she would have to pull out all my teeth before I would admit that. The huernias were actually quite nice. And I didn't get a stomachache either.
Mrs Keeper glares at me in exasperation: "Come on Cutie, do you guys know how much these plants are worth?? Some of them are collectors' succulents, and actually cost a lot of money! You can't just keep eating them like that!"
A lot of money? My brain suddenly kicks into gear, and in a split second I go from Cutie the laid-back guinea pig to Cutie the Guinea Pig Alpha, the carer of all animals at Sunny Zoo. Since I was the one who suggested everyone escape with me, I would always feel responsible for their welfare. Making sure we earn enough to make our freedom sustainable is one of my top priorities, and will always remain so. Therefore, anything that involves "a lot of money" deserves my attention and requires further investigation.
"How much money are we talking about?" I inquire cautiously. Mrs Keeper shows me a receipt, and very deliberately points to the item named "huernia aspera". "Oh... I see..."
The numbers quickly turn themselves over in my head. We have a yard... we have Mrs Keeper who clearly knows about succulents, and who already spends so much time growing them... and we have a website with a store function...
I make a decision. "Okay Mrs Keeper, I have an idea, and I think you'll like it. We're going to grow more succulents at Sunny Zoo!"
"Huh?" her eyes become really round. "What do you mean? I'm not going to grow more succulents if you guys are just going to eat them for dinner! And morning tea and afternoon snack! Probably supper too, if you weren't already in bed by that time!"
I grin guiltily; she certainly knows us! "No, I mean we'll grow more succulents and sell them! To earn money for Sunny Zoo! So of course we won't eat them any more... or at least we'll try to remember not to eat them."
Mrs Keeper still looks sceptical, so we manage to find Mr Keeper, who is in the process of cleaning our bus, the Star Ferry (he usually takes Knobby the bearded dragon with him, who is very useful for cleaning up any cockroaches and other unwanted insects that may have turned up). I run the idea past Mr Keeper, we discuss the possible set-up for a succulent nursery, and look back over the budgets to see how we can fund it.
So in the end, Mrs Keeper is given the go-ahead to obtain more succulent plants, and I warn the other guinea pigs against eating our inventory. I don't have much hope of their listening to me though, especially on the subject of food. I wouldn't even trust myself!
So I've told Mr Keeper to make sure he gets raised beds and raised shelves!
The Sunny Zoo
The animals at the Sunny Zoo enjoy their many freedoms, including having access to the Internet and a blog.
(C) The Sunny Zoo 陽光動物園 2017