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Authors: Alan Rusbridger

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Smelliest Day at the Zoo

BOOK: Smelliest Day at the Zoo
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Alan Rusbridger

The Smelliest Day at the Zoo

2006

Slap bang in the middle of the hottest day of the year, the zoo’s drains have blocked up and there’s nowhere for the animals’ poo to go! Mr Pickles the zoo keeper (who is looking distinctly green) must decide what to do with it all…Before the naughty chimps beat him to it!

Chapter One

It was slap bang in the middle of the hottest day of the year that the drains collapsed outside Melton Meadow Zoo. The first that Mr Pickles, the head keeper, knew of the problem was when Sergeant Saddle, from Melton Meadow Police Station, puffed into his office. He had cycled all the way from the town centre and needed to sit down. “The bus,” he wheezed. “It just disappeared.”

“What bus?” asked Mr Pickles, rather concerned about the fact that Sergeant Saddle seemed to have gone mad. “How can a bus disappear?”

“Down the hole,” gasped Sergeant Saddle. “A giant hole in the road. In Copp…Copplethorpe Road. It ate the bus up. Look for yourself.”

Mr Pickles went to his window and looked over the wall of the zoo. Sure enough, there was the tail end of the Number Seventeen bus in the air, with its front swallowed up by a gaping crater in the ground.

“It landed right on those old drains,” said Sergeant Saddle, mopping his brow, “so we’ll have to close them.”

“Close the drains?” asked Mr Pickles.

“Exactly. No one can use the drains until they’re fixed,” said Sergeant Saddle firmly. “Which might be quite a few days. Any problems, give me a call.”

And with that he disappeared.

The full significance of what Sergeant Saddle had said did not sink in for a few minutes. And, when it did, Mr Pickles called a meeting of all the zoo keepers.

“There’s a problem with the drains,” Mr Pickles told the gathered keepers gravely. “A bus has fallen into them, which means that, er, nothing can go down them.”

“Nothing…? But what if we need to go to the toilet?” asked Mr Pomfrey, the penguin keeper.

“Yes, well,” said Mr Pickles, wrinkling his nose at the word ‘toilet’. His mother had told him it was rude to talk about toilets or lavatories. “You’ll just have to go into Melton Meadow and use the town, er, conveniences.”

“That’s all very well. But what about the animals?” asked Mr Leaf, the lion keeper. “I can’t take my lions into town.”

“What about the poo?” said Mr Chisel, the chimp keeper, who had a reputation for straight talking.

“Yes, there’ll be mountains of the stuff.” declared Mrs Crumble, the crocodile keeper, who didn’t believe in beating around the bush either.

“Urn, yes,” mumbled Mr Pickles, who felt most flustered indeed. He had been particularly brought up never to speak of such things. “Well, each keeper will just have to look after the thingummies. Keep everything all tidy and shipshape as, um, possible. Anything else?”

The keepers shook their heads and hurried back to their animals. Things had begun to get decidedly whiffy already.

Mr Pickles went for a little lie-down in his office. But not before he had hung a big notice on the main gates:

Chapter Two

Mr Raja opened the door of the Rhino House and frowned. There on the floor was a large, wet, brown pancake, still fresh and steaming. “Oh dear,” sighed Mr Raja as he fetched a spade and scooped it all up into a big red bucket. Normally he would have got a high-powered hose and washed the stuff down the drains. But not today.

He went to wash his hands and prepare the rhino’s tea, when suddenly—
SPLAT!
Mr Raja spun round and saw another torrent of brown stuff cascading on to the newly cleaned floor.

The rhino blinked at him. Or was it a wink? Mr Raja wondered if he was doing it on purpose.

Silly me
, thought Mr Raja.
I’m getting all hot and bothered
.

And once again he got out his spade.

By now the bucket was nearly full—and Mr Raja knew that there was no way on earth he could get through the rest of the day with just one bucket. On the other hand, he didn’t have any more buckets…

Mr Raja sat down and scratched his hot and bothered head. In India, where he had grown up as a boy, they used cow poo for all kinds of things—including building houses and as a fuel.They would collect the cow poo, dry it out, and burn it. But, as he gazed into the full bucket in front of him, he couldn’t quite imagine how

a) he could possibly use it for DIY tasks

b) make a barbecue with it.

and, or

But then a brainwave struck him. Fertilizer! That was the other thing they used dung for in India. And Melton Meadow Zoo had some extremely colourful flower beds which he felt sure could just do with a little sprinkling of top-grade compost, or whatever gardeners called it.

“Manure!” he shouted cheerfully, slapping the rhino on its bottom.The rhino shook his head sadly. The heat had clearly gone to Mr Raja’s head.

Checking no one was looking, Mr Raja picked up his tin teacup, tiptoed out of the Rhino House and lugged the red bucket over to a nearby border of tulips. Holding his nose with his left hand, he dipped the teacup into the brown sludge and neatly tipped a little melting mound of it at the base of a tulip.

Feeling rather pleased with himself, Mr Raja fertilized a second, and then a third. He imagined how impressed Mr Pickles would be when he heard of his clever idea. But then he looked up to see Mr Emblem, the elephant keeper, who seemed to be copying him!

“Ah, same idea I see,” said Mr Emblem, who was carrying a box of big round balls of elephant dung. “I’ve read that elephant poo makes excellent fertilizer.”

And with that he placed a very large elephant dropping on the head of a garden gnome which was sitting in the middle of the culips. Mr Raja looked at the poor gnome’s face in dismay: it disappeared from view entirely as the dark brown dropping slid down over its shoulders and came to rest on its knees.

BOOK: Smelliest Day at the Zoo
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