(C) The Sunny Zoo 陽光動物園 2017
There was a solemn meeting in the garden, to deal with the matter of the stowaway finches.
Mr Keeper excused himself and went off to read a no-brainer novel, as he felt his nerves would not stand up to further disturbance today. Anyway, Cutie the Alpha would certainly inform him of any decisions, and he crossed his fingers - and toes - that no one else had been using his email in secret! It seemed he would have to change his password again.
After two long weeks of almost constant rain, both animal and human alike were delighted to have an excuse to enjoy the beautiful bright weather outdoors. All the reptiles and amphibians, even the nocturnal ones, found their favourite spots to bask in the sun. The grass had grown extra long with the drenching, and the ever-helpful guinea pigs got right on the task of saving Mr Keeper some lawn-mowing. Only the grass mind you; they didn't like too much of the clover weeds, so eventually the human employees would still have to pull most of those out by hand.
"All right, all right, order please!" called Cutie, the only guinea pig not eating, since someone had to chair the meeting and actually pay attention. "Ellie, stop chatting to the finches, we're ready to hear their story now."
Ellie the parrot and the tiny finches were perched on one of the low branches of a bush, and were talking rapidly in Bird. Being the lone bird in the household and having difficulty mastering human language, Ellie often felt like she was the odd one out. It wasn't that she didn’t get on with the others, but... there was just the nagging sense of not quite being on the same wavelength. So she was really pleased to meet some fellow avians today. Now she gave the two finches one last friendly pat with her wing, before flying over to perch next to the kids. Big Kid had brought out their afternoon tea of biscuits, fruit and milkshake, and had set the plates out on the terracotta tiles. Ellie helped herself to a green grape and began to thoughtfully peck it to pieces.
"Dear finches, we welcome you to our home," said Cutie formally, nodding at the visitors. The miniature finches fluffed their feathers politely and bowed back. When they fluttered their wings, the movements were so fast and delicate that the naked eye could barely see them. Those nearby just felt a gentle breeze. "As Ellie has already explained to you, you have come to the Sunny Zoo, the only place in the world run by ex-pets."
"Otherwise known as the Federation of Liberated Ingenious Pets, FLIP for short!" interrupted Marbles the gecko. He had found his usual patch under the waratah shrub still too soggy, and was jostling Knobby for some space on a rock. Unfortunately the rays of the sun landed only on half the rock, so Knobby was not happy about having to share it.
"Cheep! Nice to meet you all!" chirped the finches together, then the darker, mottled one said, "My name is Cappuccino, and this is my wife, Mocha. We are manniken finches." The other lighter, tan-coloured one ruffled her feathers again and smiled.
"And I am Cutie, the alpha of this household." Cutie gave Marbles and Knobby an exasperated look, before turning back to the guests. "Are you ready to tell us what brought you to us today? Are you just running away, and need us to give you a lift somewhere? Our human employees will be perfectly happy to drive you to your destination if necessary."
"Ah-hem!" coughed Mrs Keeper, strolling by with a pot of limp-looking echeveria. Not all of her beloved succulent plants had coped well with the unusually long period of rain, and many of the leaves on this one had either fallen off or were going gooey on the stem. It would probably take Mrs Keeper the rest of this afternoon to inspect all the pots and move them into the sun to dry out the soil.
"Cheep cheep, thank you!" said Cappuccino in his charming, singsong voice. "No, we were not going anywhere, we just wanted to get away! Away!"
Puffy the guinea pig asked, with her mouth full: "What happened?"
Cappuccino sat down comfortably on the branch and said, "Cheep! Mocha and I came from two different breeders, and met in the pet shop. There were ten of us living in the small cage, it was really crowded. Cheep! We bonded right away..." he smiled lovingly at his wife, "But the others were always bickering. There were three that were always arguing and gave us no peace. Then a couple that kept shoving at us, trying to get more room for themselves, cheep cheep cheep! Then there was a hyper one who kept flying about and kicking out all the seeds, so sometimes we all ran out of food!"
"Oh you poor things!" Banana the python exclaimed sympathetically. "I hate being hungry too!"
Cappuccino looked a little alarmed at this, but carried on bravely, "Mocha and I were always huddled in the corner, trying to avoid getting kicked or hit in the head, and there was just no getting away from the constant noise! Cheep cheep cheep, we were going mad! And then Mocha started feeling unwell..."
"Don't blame her," remarked Spotty the guinea pig, "I feel the same after half an hour with the triplets! That's my three children over there.... yes, the ones trying to bite each other's behinds. Sorry, you go on!"
"Ah, your children are lovely!" said Cappuccino generously. "Cheep! I was really worried about Mocha, she said she was feeling more and more giddy everyday, she couldn't sit still, she was feeling weak, I didn't know what to do, cheep cheep cheep!"
"Awwww......" Baby Kid took off his glasses and wiped his eyes on the hem of his T-shirt.
"And then today, that dog knocked over our cage!" cried Cappuccino, getting to the exciting part of the story. "Cheeeeep! I told Mocha, here's our chance! Let's take a risk, cheep cheep cheep cheep!! So we flew out of the cage and hid ourselves near the exit of the pet shop. We waited until no one was looking, then we flew out of the shop and hid again under the nearest car. Cheep cheep, that happened to be your car. We ducked in as soon as you opened the door! Cheep cheep cheep!!"
"Yay! Well done!" almost everyone clapped. By now the guinea pig triplets were hissing and biting and scratching each other in earnest. Marbles was on top of Knobby's head, holding on to Knobby's eye ridges (and blocking Knobby's third eye with his butt) as the angry bearded dragon tried to shake him off.
While the gentle Mocha gazed in amazement at the various fights already breaking out on the lawn, her husband continued with great courage and persistence, "So we don't have anywhere else to go, CHEEP! Please, you must not send us back, I'm afraid Mocha would not survive it! Cheep cheep!!"
"Awwwwww!" Now even Little Kid was wiping her eyes on a T-shirt sleeve. "Please Cutie, say they can stay! Please please please!!"
Cutie looked around. Ellie had already flown back to the finches and was talking to Mocha again. Spotty, Puffy and Curlsy were also there, trying to figure out why Mocha was sick, and Spotty was muttering the names of several herbs she thought might help. Blacky had predictably disappeared; Banana was trying to break up the fight between Marbles and Knobby, while the four frogs were cheering both on. Clearly the finches' story had stretched most of the animals' attentions spans to the limit.
Mrs Keeper sat down next to Cutie, picked up a biscuit and bit into it, "So what's the decision here? Do we need to call a vote?"
Cutie sighed, "Nah, I'll make an executive decision." He pulled off a blade of grass and downed it in two seconds, suddenly realising he was hungry too. "Please let Mr Keeper know there'll be two more to the family, thank you!"
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