After all the anxiety before the arrival of Mr Keeper's parents, and the unexpected gatecrashing by the NASA scientists, the actual visit turned out to be somewhat anti-climatic, other than a couple of minor incidents.
To start with, Mr Keeper's parents were of course alarmed by the scream coming from inside the house while they were waiting at the front door. Fortunately it never occurred to them they had anything to do with it, but thinking their son or even one of the grandchildren might have suffered some debilitating accident, they immediately started banging harder at the front door.
The ruckus attracted the attention of all the animals, and by the time Mrs Keeper had run to the door and thrown it open (before the nervous neighbour might call the police), all the drowsy reptiles had been woken up. There was also a line of curious guinea pigs in the living room again. Cutie the Alpha must have brought them in through that secret trapdoor Mr Keeper still hasn't been able to find, which was usually not a problem, but they had just been snacking in the rain-soaked veggie patch, and had not taken the trouble to wipe their paws before running in.
So Grandpa and Grandma Keeper's first impressions of the household were..... lots of muddy paw-prints all over the floor, a group of muddy (and a bit stinky) rats in the living room, and a serpent slithering out of its enclosure (the half-asleep Banana had forgotten she wasn't supposed to lift up the enclosure lid and come out by herself).
At which point Grandma Keeper had let out an involuntary scream. That was probably understandable in the circumstances. She had never really been an animals person, and rodents and snakes were definitely high on her list of animals to avoid, and indeed decimate. (Mr Keeper had always wondered where he got his zoological genes from.) Mrs Keeper hurriedly made her a cup of camomile tea to calm her nerves, and then took the visitors out in the garden to look at the plants. At least the plants did not have teeth. Or fur. And Grandpa Keeper particularly liked plants, often lamenting that he never had the opportunity to have a big garden.
Everyone secretly felt that it was a good thing Grandma Keeper had already arranged to meet up with some old friends for afternoon tea. They borrowed Mrs Keeper's car and went out, returning just after the kids came home from school. The kids were absolutely excited that their grandparents had finally arrived, and they simply had to show the grandparents everything - from all their recent drawings, some pebbles collection, sharks' teeth, a new lava lamp, and even a full bag of snake skins (mostly shed by Banana). The final item was not terribly well-received, but Grandma Keeper had managed not to scream this time.
The family went out to a nice restaurant for dinner, and then it was time for bed. Grandma Keeper read a special bedtime story for the kids, and the day ended with no further trouble.
Until the animals all got up again secretly at midnight to watch the Australian Quidditch team's match against Japan, their last chance to make it into the semi-finals. To their credit the animals had turned down the volume of the TV, and had kept shouting and cheering to a minimum. But Grandpa Keeper had suddenly gotten up to visit the bathroom, and had noticed sleepily that someone had left the TV on. Luckily he had simply gone over, turned off the TV and gone back to bed - without noticing all the surprised animals sitting absolutely frozen on the sofa!
Grandpa and Grandma Keeper had to leave for the airport with their pick-up taxi around 9 o'clock the next morning, and many tearful goodbyes were exchanged between the humans (and urgings that the rats should be drowned, and the snake should be electrocuted with a fly-zapper, for the safety of the kids; the Sunny Zoo animals very kindly overlooked these comments, and later agreed that perhaps playing dumb had been the best option).
All in all it was a pretty smooth visit, and had gone much better than Mr Keeper had imagined. He did discover that his dad had dug up all seven of the rose bushes in the front garden, and moved them into the backyard for some unfathomable reason - Grandpa Keeper had obviously woken up early. However, he had known his dad for many decades and frankly, something like this was not entirely unexpected.
They all clapped themselves on the back metaphorically for a job well-done, and decided that to celebrate, they would go on an outing themselves - to the local pet shop! It was the Greyhound Adoption Day at the pet shop, organised to help find new homes for retired greyhounds that were no longer required by the dog racing industry.
The Sunny Zoo had no intention whatsoever of inviting a greyhound to join them - they were not fans of dogs or cats, for obvious reasons. But Big Kid loves greyhounds - he is allergic to all dogs, although strangely enough NOT greyhounds, so he always wants to go to the adoption days if he can, just to pat and hug the gentle greyhounds there.
And while Big Kid patted and hugged the greyhounds to his heart's content out in a cordoned-off section of the carpark, his younger sister and brother (as well as the guinea pigs triplets, Caramel, Brownie and Chocolate, who had insisted on coming along, and were peeping out from three pockets of Little Kid's backpack) wandered around the shop. They chatted to the fish, chatted to the birds, chatted to the hatchling pythons, and chatted to the two new octopi, staying well away from the puppies and kittens.
Suddenly there was a commotion. A greyhound had been frightened by a sports car that screeched recklessly into the carpark, and had run away from his handler and dashed into the pet shop! The horrified dog streaked in between the fish tanks, flashed down the dog accessories aisle, and found the birds area - forbidden to dogs, but of course he didn't take the time to read the sign. All the "Get him!" and "Grab him!" and "Oops there goes a cage!" didn't help either, and it was a good 10 minutes before his handler managed to calm him down and lead him out the shop again.
"Well, that was interesting!" said Big Kid as they all got back in the car, buckled up, and Mr Keeper swung out of the carpark.
"Poor greyhound," remarked Little Kid. "He looked so scared! Do you think he would get adopted?"
"I hope so!" said Caramel the guinea pig. "I wouldn't want to see HIM again! My heart is still racing!"
"Cheep cheep!" said a little voice.
Everyone was silent for a moment, and then Baby Kid asked, "What was that?"
"Cheep cheep!" said the little voice again.
Caramel turned and looked at Chocolate sternly, "Don't think you'll get away with letting off gas by making that weird noise!"
"Cheep cheep cheep cheep cheeeeeep!" went the little voice, and this time everyone heard the distinctive, singsong lilt that was most definitely beyond Chocolate's abilities. And found the culprit standing on one of the head rests in the last row of seats.
"My God it's a FINCH!" cried Mr Keeper, gazing wide-eyed into the back view mirror, narrowly missing a telephone pole.
To be exact, there were TWO finches. And they were both gazing innocently back at him.
Clearly Mr Keeper had celebrated too early.
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