Lilly was very pleased to be sat comfortably on top of Vicky’s lunch box and no longer squeezed amongst the pencils. She was even more pleased to have arrived at the zoo and be walked around in Vicky’s school bag, carefully peeking out so as not to be seen. However the four hours that Vicky and her class mates would be there was not very long, she needed to slip out of the bag as soon as she could and make her way to the bear compound. She needed to start gathering facts and the bears seemed to be sensible place to start the investigation. After all she was a bear and so it stood to reason that the bears in the zoo should be willing to tell her what they knew. It is against the rules for an animal to talk to a human or get involved in their world, but talking to a human’s bear was perfectly fine. The two things that puzzled Lilly the most were; how do you make a crocodile cry? And of course, how would you collect its tears? After all, to do both, you would need to get pretty near, and we all know how ‘snappy’ a crocodile can be.
It was a short hop, skip and somersault across the path and over the wall of the bear’s compound. And something that Lilly performed with her usual dexterity and deftness. Once over, she skirted the wall until she came to a pile of boulders, which she used as cover to get near to the big old Grizzly, laid out sunbathing on a large flat rock a little way from the humans peering over the wall. It was no guarantee that the bear would be friendly towards Lilly or that he would even be bothered to talk to her. Bears are not known for being particularly friendly, unless you’re a teddy bear that is, so still at a safe distance Lilly moved into the view of the bear, which was stretched out relaxing in the sun and cleared her voice.
“Uhmm, excuse me sir”, Lilly begun, showing as much respect as she could. “Might I have a word?” Roderick opened one eye and viewed Lilly almost absentmindedly, snorted a little, and shifted himself up on his forearms just a little. “A teddy bear, and what would a teddy bear be doing coming to see me?" "Still” he continued a little unconvincingly “beats being gawped at by that lot over there,” Rolling his eyes across to the other side of the wall comically at the faces peering over. Lilly responded as politely as she could. “I was hoping you could help me sir. You see, the monkeys are stealing crocodile tears, and I was hoping you would be able to tell me how they are doing it” Roderick, for that was the bears’ name, rolled over onto his back and groaned. “Oh that, why should I care?” Stretching his paws high in the air and looked at Lilly upside down. Lilly frowned at the big old Grizzly who seemed more interested in playing to the humans than what Lilly had to say. “Sir. This is important!” Lilly said still politely but more forcefully. Roderick rolled back over and stood up and grinned. Arching his back and making himself look very big indeed. “Watch this doll!” He then stood up on his hind legs and waved his paws about furiously letting out an almighty growl and pulling his lips back to expose his teeth. His manly display made the crowd of humans step back away from the wall fearfully, before he dropped back down onto it front legs. “They love me!” he said smugly. Obviously Roderick didn’t mind being gawped at all really.
With Roderick’s display Lilly knew exactly how she would get him to tell her what he knew about the goings on at the zoo. She knew now that Roderick loved to pose and loved the attention of the people visiting. “Uhmm” Lilly began again. “Sir”. Roderick slumped back down onto his tummy and rested his chin on the floor. “Roderick, I’m Roderick”. Lilly tried hard not to grin; she might expect a Grizzly Bear to be called, Rocky, or Atlas or even Boris, but Roderick. His name didn’t exactly fill you with fear. Lilly repeated his name keeping a straight face. “Pleased to meet you Roderick, I am Lilly”. Roderick chuckled deeply, but said no more, perhaps he though Lilly was a funny name too, one that doesn’t exactly match a secret agent. “What would you do if the zoo was closed down?” Roderick sat up once again on his haunches looking at Lilly a little more intently this time. “What do you mean, closed?” Lilly put on a most serious face. “Closed because of crocotearalitis, and it’s only a matter of time until they work out where its coming from and when they do, no more visitors, and no visitors means no zoo!” Lilly had laid it on a bit thick but it was doing the trick and Roderick began to talk.
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