Mr. Smith was the head keeper of a very large zoo. He was very proud of his job and he was certain that his was the very best zoo in the whole wide world.
Every afternoon, Mr. Smith liked to walk around his zoo and check on everything. He liked seeing all the animals and he especially liked watching all the children who came to visit them. Mr. Smith thought that he was a very lucky man because he had a job that made so many people happy. He liked seeing the smiles on all the children's faces when they petted the baby animals. He could tell that the animals enjoyed it too because they stood very still while the children stroked their fur and fed them.
But, one afternoon, when the sun was shining, the birds were singing and there were a lot of people visiting the zoo, everything suddenly changed. Bill the assistant keeper, rushed into Mr. Smith's office and he was very upset. "Something's wrong sir!" exclaimed Bill. "I've just been to check on all the animals and they're very unhappy! I think you'd better come with me."
Mr. Smith grabbed his zookeeper's hat, slapped it on his head and rushed out of his office behind Bill.
First, they ran to the elephant's cage and sure enough, Elsie the elephant was lying down, holding her long trunk between her two front legs. "Dear, dear Elsie!" exclaimed Mr. Smith. "Whatever is the matter?" Elsie opened one large black eye and a big tear slipped down her fat cheek. "Oh Mr. Smith, you know how much I love peanuts, don't you?" "Oh yes," replied Mr. Smith. Elsie sobbed again and her voice became very muffled. "Well, when Mr. Bill came to feed me, I was very, very hungry and when he left to fill my water pail, he left the big, bag of peanuts on the ground next to my cage. I'm so very sorry Mr. Smith but I just couldn't help myself. I was so very, very hungry, you see." Mr. Smith wiped another tear from her face and said, "Yes, I see Elsie. Please go on."
Elsie opened her big, sad blue eyes and then she said, "I saw the big bag of peanuts lying there and I pulled it into my cage and I ate the whole, whole bag!" "Oh dear!" Mr. Smith exclaimed. "I'm sure you have a very bad tummy ache!" "Oh, but you don't understand Mr. Smith!" wailed Elsie. "There were a lot of peanuts left in the bag so I sniffed them up with my trunk and they got caught in my nose! I've blown and blown and I can't get them out and I can't drink my water either!" And poor Elsie began to cry again.
"There, there Elsie, please don't cry. I'll try my very best to help you," said Mr. Smith. "But first, I have to go and check on the other animals. I'll be back as soon as I can. I promise."
Then Mr. Smith followed Bill as he ran to the giraffe's pen and there another sad sight greeted him. Geraldo the giraffe was leaning against a tree with his long neck wrapped around the tree trunk. Geraldo had his eyes closed and he looked very unhappy too.
Mr. Smith sent Bill to fetch a long ladder and when he returned, Mr. Smith leaned the tall ladder against the tree. Then he raced up the ladder until he was eye to eye with Geraldo.
"Geraldo!" "Geraldo!" Mr. Smith yelled in his ear. "Whatever is the matter with you?" Geraldo opened one large, brown eye and replied, "Oh, Mr. Smith! Can you please help me?" "Of course I will!" shouted Mr. Smith. "Whatever is the matter?" Geraldo tried to swallow and when he did, his long face twisted in pain. "Oh, Mr. Smith, I have a very, very bad sore throat and it hurts all the way down!" groaned Geraldo. "Oh you poor thing!" said Mr. Smith as he patted the giraffe on the head. "You stay right where you are and I'll be back as soon as I can." And off he ran to the next animal's cage.
"Dear, oh dear!" Mr. Smith cried as he raced behind Bill to the hippopotamus cage. When he got there, he didn't like what he saw. Happy the hippo was lying on her side in the cool water and she was turning her head slowly back and forth. When she opened her small, green eyes, she saw Mr. Smith and Bill leaning over her. She raised her huge head and groaned. "Whatever is the matter dear Happy?" asked Mr. Smith.
Happy looked at him and she tried to talk without moving her lips. "It's my lips, Mr. Smith. I have very bad chapped lips," moaned Happy. "Do you think you can help me?" "Oh yes, I'll find something and be back as soon as I can but first I have to check on the other animals." And off he and Bill ran to see what else was wrong at the zoo.
"Oh me, oh my!" said Mr. Smith as he raced from one animal's cage to another because everywhere he went, he heard one sad tale after another.
Katy the kangaroo had a very severe tummy ache because her baby "Roo" kept jumping up and down in her pouch all day long. Prissy the opossum had a terrible backache because her seven babies insisted on riding around on her back all the time. Sammy the snake was sad because he had several large blisters on his very long tummy from crawling around on the hot sand every day. Mr. Smith had never seen so many sad animals in his zoo before. What to do! What to do!
He and Bill hurried back to their office to try and think up a plan to help all the animals as quickly as possible. They worked all through the night and just as the sun was rising the next morning; his office was a beehive of activity. "Here Bill," ordered Mr. Smith. "I want you to take this list and bring me back everything on it." Bill took the long list and hurried off to the store.
When Bill returned he was carrying an odd assortment of things. He had a large jar of peanut butter, a bottle of olive oil, a pail of honey, a spatula, a bunch of bandages, and a roll of bright red ribbon. There was also a long, yellow water hose, a tall ladder, a couple of water pails, a roll of twine and a large fluffy pillow.
Mr. Smith checked his list again and he sighed as he wiped his brow. "I think that we have everything that we need. Bill, you grab that pile over there and I'll take this one." They were a very funny sight as they hurried along with all their strange equipment.
The first cage they came to belonged to Elsie the elephant. She was lying on the ground still holding her trunk between her front legs. She looked even worse than yesterday. "Elsie dear, we're finally here to help you," said Mr. Smith. Elsie opened one tired eye and just lay where she was.
"Bill," ordered Mr. Smith. "Take the water hose and hook it to the faucet over there!" Bill ran to do as he was told. "Okay Bill," yelled Mr. Smith. "I am going to put this end in Elsie's trunk and I want you to turn the water on full force!" He turned to Elsie. "Elsie, just be patient for a little longer and everything will be just fine." "All right Bill, turn on the water!" commanded Mr. Smith. The water rushed up Elsie's nose and out popped the clump of peanuts.
"Are you okay now dear Elsie?" asked Mr. Smith. "Oh yes, I am and thank you very much Mr. Smith. I'll never, ever steal peanuts again!" "That's good to hear," laughed Mr. Smith as he and Bill gathered up their stuff. "Bill, lets go see how the other animals are doing," and they raced off with pails clanking, bandages flapping and ladders dragging.
When they arrived at Geraldo's area, they saw that things were pretty much the same. He was still leaning against the tree with his neck wrapped around the trunk. "Geraldo! Geraldo! Hang on a minute and I'll be right up there to help you!" panted Mr. Smith.
"Bill!" ordered the zookeeper. "Please get me that long ladder and that big pail of honey!" Mr. Smith leaned the ladder against the tree and then he tied a piece of rope to the handle of the honey pail. "Now Bill, you hold the pail and when I get to the top of the ladder, I'll pull the honey up until I can grab it like we planned."
Mr. Smith raced up the ladder as fast as his tired old legs could carry him. When he reached the top, he patted Geraldo on the head and then he pulled the pail of honey up as fast as he could. He grabbed the heavy pail and then he spoke to the giraffe. "Geraldo, could you please lift your head and open your mouth as wide as you can so that I can help you." Geraldo opened his big, brown eyes and slowly opened his mouth. "Geraldo, when I pour this honey down your throat, could you please swallow ever so carefully?" Geraldo nodded his tired head and Mr. Smith poured the honey down his sore throat until the large pail was empty.
As the warm honey slid down Geraldo's long throat, he started to smile. "Oh thank you, Mr. Smith! I think that my sore throat is already feeling a lot better!" "Good!" replied Mr. Smith. "Now we much go and see how Happy the Hippo is doing this morning."
But Happy the hippo was not happy at all! Her large chapped lips were not any better and she was in a very bad mood. "Happy, dear Happy," said Mr. Smith. "I think that I have found the answer to your problem." "Oh, Mr. Smith!" wailed Happy. "I do hope that you can help me! My lips are so chapped that I can't even eat my breakfast and I am so very, very hungry!"
"Bill!" shouted Mr. Smith. "Please give me that big jar of peanut butter!" "Yes sir!" said Bill as he handed the peanut butter to Mr. Smith. "Now Happy, dear Happy, if you will just swing your head around, I'm going to rub this peanut butter all over your sore lips. I think that you will start to feel better right away."
Mr. Smith took a large spatula out of his big sack and dipped it into the peanut butter. He began spreading it all over Happy's chapped lips.
Happy opened and closed her mouth a couple of times and she rubbed her peanut butter covered lips together too. After a couple of minutes, she smiled at Mr. Smith. "Oh, Mr. Smith! Thank you so very much! Not only do my lips feel better but the peanut butter tastes wonderful too!" "That's good Happy," replied Mr. Smith. "I'll leave the rest of the jar here and you can use it whenever you like." With that, he and Bill raced off to help the other animals.
Katy the kangaroo was leaning against the side of her cage and she was holding her tummy with both paws. Mr. Smith took one look and then he yelled for Bill to bring him their "special" invention. It was a small pair of sneakers with a couple of springs glued to them. "Katy," said Mr. Smith. "Please pull Roo out of your pouch and hand him to me."
Mr. Smith carefully carried Roo over to a picnic table and sat him on it. He took the bright red sneakers and put them on Roo's feet. "Now Roo," said Mr. Smith. "Bill and I stayed up very late last night and made these for you. I think that you are going to like them very much." He slipped the sneakers on Roo's feet and tied them nice and tight. Then he stood Roo up and the baby kangaroo bounced up and down, up and down and a big, happy smile spread across his sweet face. It was just like being in mommy's tummy but it was a whole lot better! He could bounce higher and further. He loved Mr. Smith's invention and he loved Mr. Smith too! Katy the kangaroo, seeing how very happy her baby was, smiled and thanked Bill and Mr. Smith. No more tummy aches for her!
Next, they went to see Prissy the opossum. She was still hanging from a branch by her tail and all seven of her babies were hanging all over her. Hearing Mr. Smith and Bill arrive, she opened one tired gray eye and looked at them. "Oh, Mr. Smith, have you though of anything that will help me get these babies off my back? I'm so very tired." "You poor, poor lady," Mr. Smith said as he patted her small head.
"Bill, would you please hand me that large, fluffy white pillow that you have in your bag." Mr. Smith quickly tied four ropes to each corner of the pillow and then he tied the other ends of the ropes to the tree branch next to Mrs. Opossum. Then Mr. Smith gently took each of Prissy's babies and placed them on the hanging pillow. The babies jumped all around and the next thing Mr. Smith knew, they were hanging from all parts of the pillow just like they had been hanging off their mother. Prissy gave a happy sigh of relief and said, "Oh, thank you, Mr. Smith and Bill. I feel so much lighter now and my babies are safe and happy."
The very last creature on Mr. Smith's list was Sammy the Snake. Sammy was still lying on his back and the blisters on his belly seemed much bigger. When Sammy opened his large, yellow eyes to see who had come to visit him, he groaned and slid a little further down in his cage.
"There, there, Sammy," said Mr. Smith. "I think I know how to help you." He turned to Bill and said. "Please hand me that bottle of olive oil and all those bandages." Bill handed him the large roll of white bandages. "Now Sammy, this may take a while but I know that you are going to feel a lot better when I'm done."
Mr. Smith and Bill very gently lifted Sammy out of his cage and stretched him out on the cool, green grass. Then they poured olive oil all over his long tummy. Next, they wrapped Sammy in layer upon layer of cotton bandages. Then, they tied the bandages in place with big red ribbons. When they were finished, Sammy the snake looked just like a large candy cane!
"There, there Sammy, how do you feel now?" asked Mr. Smith. Sammy didn't answer or even open his eyes but Mr. Smith noticed that he had a big smile on his face. Mr. Smith turned to his helper. "Well, Bill I guess that we've finally taken care of everyone and I want to thank you for all your help."
That night, Mr. Smith fell asleep with a big smile on his tired face because he knew that he'd done his very best and he was happy because all the animals in his zoo were very happy too."
Autobiography of a Simple Soul
Memories, Another Place - Another Time
Recently Published Articles include:
The Kerosene Can
Dad - Working Years
Dippy Doodle Duck
The Apple Tree
To Those I Love: A Poem by M. Stevens-David
M. Stevens-David Review: "Different Coins in the Fountain" by Carlos Cornejo
M. Stevens-David Review: "The House on Dead Boy Lane" by Carter Johnson
Childrens Stories include:
See also Vengeance is Mine a short mystery novel published at Magic City over 4 days.
All works by Martha Stevens-David published at Magic City Morning Star News are her copyright property and may not be reproduced without her permission.