Z is for zoology (a pop quiz you have to plan for) by Professor Percival P. Pennywhistle

This is a hunt for natural treasures, rare and beautiful creatures, not-so-rare and fairly ugly creatures, and some new ways of saying familiar things. It is a search for the poetry of life, the magic of the great wide world. It is also a search for odors. Enjoy.

You will need the following to complete the assigned tasks: a zoo (or zoo-like environment, like a college dormitory), a camera (for taking photographs of relatively decent quality, but not likely to be published in National Geographic or Zoology Tomorrow), and a friend or twelve (this is optional if you prefer your own company to that of others, or if they prefer someone else’s company to yours, and therefore no one else is willing to come along).

1.      Collect photos of the following, preferably in action, and preferably not picking their noses (though we will accept nose-picking photos, but not gang signs, and certainly not pictures of you taunting or being taunted by your subjects):
a.      a Pan troglodyte
b.      a Crocodylus niloticus
c.      a Cebus apella
d.      a Pongo pygmaeus
e.      a Canis lupus (but don’t make fun of it: it has a very serious disease);
and of the following:
f.      a gangurru (commonly referred to as a herbivorous marsupial)
g.      a Panthera leo, Caucasian edition
h.      an antelope, dollhouse edition
i.      a follically-challenged member of the family Accipitridae, known for their schlumpy physical presence and a taste for carrion
j.      something long from Burma

If the specimens in question are not visible because you’ve come at the wrong time of day (again), or because they have taken holiday somewhere warm, photos of their identifying placards will be accepted en lieu, which means €œinstead, € but sounds way cooler. Don’t cheat.

2.      Approach a local and learn the pronunciation for the names of any three (3) animals not included in number 1 above. This is the most fun if you live in an exotic place like Arabia, the south of France, or Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Write the English name backwards and the transcribed name forwards below for each, then say both out loud. Really loud. Louder. Sheesh.

a.      ________________________   _____________________________
b.      ________________________   _____________________________
c.      ________________________   _____________________________

3.      Where are you most likely to be pooped on? Or better, in what area of the zoo? (Hint: its denizens stick together.) Count them. Record your result. Count them again, quicker this time. _____________ (Wrong. Sorry.)

4.      Find something nocturnal. Ask it why it’s awake. Take a picture. Giggle.

5.      Imitate the sounds of five animals you see, as a group if you’ve brought companions, by yourself if you haven’t. Do this as you see them, ignore the people laughing at you, then list them by name, and be prepared to demonstrate. (Okay, the lion. What else?)

Bonus: write a ten-line ode (a poem of praise) to the ugliest creature you encounter.

Rules: i) the €œCreature € cannot be a member of your group, or any other group, but must be a resident of the zoo (this also excludes employees); ii) the poem must have regular meter and rhyme; iii) references to snot and other scatologies are disallowed, as these are neither classy nor appropriate for such well-bred individuals as you. The professor would certainly never stoop to them.

20 points possible. Bonus worth whatever I decide it is. Bonne chasse*!

*That’s French for ‘Happy Hunting!’, is pronounced “bun shass,” and is the etymological origin of our word “chase,” which is, after all, the funnest part of the hunt.

For more of the Professor’s work published on WIZ, go here.


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