Monday, December 9, 2013

I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

Pringle is a young hippopotamus living in Lake Naivasha with his family. He lives with his mom, Hattie, and dad, Humphrey. 

Pringle also has an Aunt Helen and Uncle Hubert. Their son, Henry, is Pringle's age and they are best friends. Pringle's grandparents, Hilda and Hammond, live nearby as well, though they were displeased when Pringle was named, as they felt he should have a family name, such as Hammond the second.  

Pringle has other friends in the Lake as well, including Pete the great white pelican and his wife, Penelope. Pringle and Henry go to Lake Naivasha school, where they learn about ecosystems and the importance of environmental and wildlife conservation.  But what Pringle would really like to know is why is he different from all the other hippos, even his family?

But for all the esteem of the Lake Naivasha School, no one could answer Pringle's question.  In fact, they advised him to ask his parents, and so Pringle decided to do just that.

"Well son," Pringle's dad begins, "you know we often see humans on the lake.  They come here to watch us.  I know you learn about them at your school. We hope that they will continue to try to protect us from disappearing habitats and extinction.  But there is more to them than meets the eye."

Pringle is fascinated, and waits patiently and quietly to hear more of the story.

"You see, Pringle," Humphrey continues, "humans aren't like us.  They aren't sure they will be able to find food, so they carry it with them often."

Of course this idea is hard for Pringle to understand, because for him, the Lake provides everything he needs.

"Now I know that sounds odd, but it can be a good thing for us too." Pringle's dad explains, "sometimes they bring food with them onto the lake."

"But dad, the lake has food in it already! Why would anyone bring more food?" Pringle asks.

"Son, humans eat different food than we do, at least as far as I can make out." Humphrey answers, "but to get back to the story, Pringle, that is exactly how you got your name."

"I don't want to be named after human food, dad, that sounds awful!" Pringle exclaimed.  "And I don't want to be the only hippopotamus with a P name.  I am supposed to have an H name.  Grandpa and Grandma told me."

"Now, son, you interrupted the story.  Where were we? Ah yes, Pringles.  When your mom was pregnant with you, we saw a boat full of humans.  One of the humans was pregnant too, and she was holding a can that said Pringles.  Every time the water rippled, she would eat a handful of something out of the can.  But once your mother got closer to the boat to investigate, she startled the pregnant human who dropped the can.  Out floated these thin, curled crisps, which your mother absolutely had to try! She loved them and ate all she could. And later, when we picking out a name for you, she told me:  'I hope our baby is brave, Humphrey.  Brave enough to transcend borders; brave enough to show humans why we deserve a place here and why they should protect our home and our species. '"

Humphrey then tells Pringle, "and so I told your mom right then that I knew our baby would be just like that, because your mom was so brave to want to see the humans and learn more about them.  I said we should name you Pringle.  And your mom wanted to send you to the Lake Naivasha School, even though it is expensive and we have had to make sacrifices to be able to afford it.  But she wanted you to have the best education available for a hippo, so that you could do something great with your life."

"Wow." Pringle wishes he could think of a better response, but he is a little overwhelmed. "Can I ask Mom about this too?" He asks his dad.

"Of course, son," Humphrey answers.

Pringle thinks about it for a little while before asking Hattie. "Mom, I asked dad why I was named Pringle, and he told me about when you met the humans and sending me to school."

"Is that so honey?" Hattie answered. "And so what do you think about it?"

"Well, since I will be educated in conservation I would want to make a difference, make the world a better place for hippos. Is my name special enough to achieve that, do you think?"

"Pringle, your name is unique, but it is you that is special, dear." His mom tells him.

"Really? So you think I could do that?" He asks her.

"Pringle you can do anything you want darling, and if will always be proud of you." She answers.

"That's what I want to do, mom, but can I tell you something?" Pringle asks a little sheepishly.

"Of course, babe, what is it?" She tries to reassure him. 

"It's a little scary to think of doing it all by myself, Mom. Is that bad?" Pringle asks her.

"Maybe you won't have to sweetie, maybe you won't have to," Hattie mysteriously murmurs.

"You know what I wish for,  mom? A little sister, she could help me. We could become hippo ambassadors.  And she should have a P name, like me.  Maybe Priscilla? We could be unique together, and we would work with the humans to conserve our world."

"You know what, Pringle? You may just want to tell Santa about that wish, and see if he brings it for you" Hattie smiled, and hoped her current pregnancy wouldn't be too noticeable until Christmas...