Animal Dilemmas – Beaver Manatee
The Manatee didn’t have time to think what happened to the Catfish after the giants pulled it out of the water half dead. They threw its daily ratio of greens in the water and the peaceful beast became busy with chewing. It was content to be still and chew the readily available food. After so many accidents and pains on the outside it didn’t take in new thoughts in. What the Catfish said sounded empty and superficial. What was important was to eat. The Manatee chewed with great pleasure and measured pace enjoying every stalk of lettuce, every leaf.
Days passed and stringed together into months. The Manatee was content with its routine of greens and pettings from the zoo visitors. Anything unusual that broke the routine scared it. A stray beach ball caused it much worry, the sound of delivery lorry interrupted its meal, a dead bird fell into the water and starts decomposing contaminating the fresh lettuce. The Manatee accepted these strange occurrences as the obtrusive acts of nature and never questioned them or cursed them. But when the Beaver moved in, the Manatee’s patience was depleted.
The Beaver was with female part of ten couples that had been introduced to these lands as an experiment. Giants brought them from up north and attempted to breed them in captivity for their hides. After the experiment failed the ten couples were let in the wild and went their own ways. It was a strange land for them but they adopted and even flourished causing concern about local ecosystems.
The Beaver was already evicted once from a local brook by farmers whose crops were destroyed after it built a dam and turned their fields into wetlands. The couple trespassed into the zoo and settled by the pond of the Manatee where the waters were deep enough so they didn’t have to build a dam. They proceeded to constructing their living lodge. At first they just gathered fallen branches and trees and started erecting the lodge on the edge of the pond with the only entrance under water. The zoo keepers took notice but saw no harm at first and let the Beavers stay.
The trouble started when the Beaver took down several trees from the park of the zoo. But their lodge was complete and the future damages were limited to feeding wood which the zoo started providing. The Beaver family soon expanded with tree cubs and they grew fast and took on more trees in the park. The zoo keepers applied a chemical that disgusted the beavers from the trees and the park was safe.
For a while all was well until the Manatee fell ill. It curled up in a corner of its pond and refused to eat or move. The Beaver family darted left and right in the water dragged branches about and stressed the slow giant. It took some time for the zookeepers to realize what was the matter. They tried medicine, alternative food, even played the sounds of other manatees to cheer up the beast. Nothing worked. Then one day the zookeepers rounded up the family of Beavers for a medical check to make sure they were not spreading any diseases in the zoo. When the pond or free of them the Manatee lifted itself up from the bottom and started chewing.
The zookeepers took notice but brought the beavers back thinking it was a coincidence. The Manatee returned to its stressed form and curled up in a corner, continued loosing weight and not eating. The Beaver paid no heed to the silent giant except that it often ate its greens. The Manatee grew stiller and started going up for air less and less.
The Beavers had a another litter and the pond and the surrounding air was full of their cries. They were collected once again for medical inspection and the Manatee surfaced for a few hours of chewing and breathing. A zookeeper took notice of its bad health and active behavior when the beavers were not around. A day passed then another and the beavers didn’t return. The Manatee didn’t stop chewing even at night and swam about in joy.
The zookeepers realized their ignorance and since the Manatee cost them a lot to acquire, was endangered and brought many visitors decided to rid of the beavers. They looked for a place remote and wild, with no farmland or animals that could be harmed by this invasive beast. They loaded the cages into a lorry and after many days and one dead cub, they unloaded them across the boarder of a neighboring country at the death of night at the edge of great forest with many rivers.
The Beaver gathered its family and pushed through the thick heather until they reached a spring. It walked up and down the bank for some time, settled for a spot, made a few cries and they all started building.
more by XIDAN
photograph by Rico Bico