Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The USA (01/08/09)
TITLE: The Unstable Society of Anteaters
By Sharon Kane
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Once upon a time in a land far away lived a society of anteaters. They lived simply and in harmony with everything around them. They ate ants of course, but never more than they needed. If you could watch them eat, your eyes would pop open in wonder and amazement. First you would see them approach the anthill with care. Then you would hear them speak gently to the ants, saying, “Little brothers, forgive me. I am hungry and I must eat. Please show me where the old ants live. Then I will not disturb the nursery where your young are sleeping.”
After that you would watch the anteater walk slowly around the anthill sniffing the walls until he came to a doorway that smelled old. You would watch him break open that doorway with his strong snout, push in his long sticky tongue, and eat his fill. Then if you watched very carefully you would notice a thoughtful look on his face as he bowed his head and thanked the ants for supplying his dinner. You would hear in his thanks a solemn promise never again to disturb them, and then you would see him leave. If you so chose you could mark that anteater with a cut in the ear, or by cropping his tail. You could watch that anthill day and night until your eyes grew red with weariness, your head ached with the heat of the noonday sun, your fingernails turned to claws and your hair looked like the coat of a woolly mammoth, but you would never see him disturb that anthill again.
The anteaters lived in family groups, and they gave space to other families. Sometimes two families would meet each other, and the daddies would wrestle to see who would stay and eat the ants in that place. They didn't kill each other because they knew the mummies and children would cry. They simply fought until one grew tired and then that one would lead his family to live somewhere else. The stronger daddy and his family would stay and eat the ants in the anthills around that place. They knew they did not need to kill each other for there would always be enough ants for them all.
One day something terrible happened in that land. Some giant anteaters arrived. Nobody knew where they came from. Some said they fell from the sky while others said they came from a land beyond the edge of the world. These giant anteaters did not understand how to live in the beautiful land they had found. The old daddies tried to teach them their ways, but the giants did not listen. Instead they fought the old daddies and, because they were giants, they killed some of them. This made the mummies and children sad, so the original anteaters went and hid in the high mountains and the hot deserts. They were never seen again.
The giants did not speak nicely to the ants. In fact they did not speak to them at all! They used their huge powerful snouts and their long sharp claws to rip into the anthills. They pushed in their long sticky tongues and ate everything: young ants, old ants, sick ants, strong ants – even baby ants and ant eggs. They reached in deeper and deeper, breaking the anthill apart until all that was left were the empty cavities. And then they left with not a word either of thanks or of apology.
These giant anteaters were very strong and they had lots of babies. Soon they were roaming all over the land, destroying the anthills everywhere they went. Before long there were not enough ants left for all of them to eat and they had to walk far to find new anthills. The hungry anteaters started to fight and kill each other. Some of the anteaters became worried. What would they eat once all the ants were gone? They pleaded with the big daddies to find a way to stop their food supply from running out, but the big daddies would not listen. They just kept gorging themselves on the ants and never thought of what would happen once the very last anthill was destroyed.
What do you think will happen to this society of anteaters? Can they survive? What would you like to say to the giant daddy anteaters if you had the chance? Does this story remind you of anything happening in our world?
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