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Nonno Panda TALES 9

Nonno Panda

Nonno Panda and…
The Urban Foxes

One day, wandering along life’s path, I got lost in a dark jungle, unable to find the right way…

I came across my friend Rox the Fox. It had been a while since I last saw her, but I could not help noticing that her behaviour was not at its best. She looked a bit depressed. Mind you, I would not dare to ask what was wrong since I know she would not say anything relevant to me and probably would lie about it. So to avoid all that, I started to make small talk – and the weather is always a good way to begin.

“Isn’t it wonderful, the feeling of spring coming?” I asked her.
“Sure,” she answered, without much enthusiasm, so I carried on with my subject.
“The blossoming trees, the sounds of the various birds courting – in no time at all the whole valley will be green and filled with the new life nature blesses us with every year.”
“Yes, and soon there’ll be more trouble,” she said. And she gave no further explanation.
It was pretty clear that something was bothering her but realising that if I asked she would never tell, I decided to let her come out with it on her own. I just carried on teasing her.
“Oh c’mon! Don’t you remember when we were young? Trouble seemed to find us everywhere! It wasn’t our fault!”
“Never!” she said attempting a smile. “But at least we had some respect for our parents. Nowadays the youngsters don’t seem to care that much about us. And as soon as they’re grown up, they leave for the city. They don’t want to stick around here anymore.”
“It’s always hard for parents to see their children leave the nest. But sooner than you think, you’ll have grandchildren to look after – then great-grandchildren , and so on. That’s the circle of life! I love the energy new offspring bring to your life,” I said, trying to cheer her up.
“Sure, and the trouble that comes with it?” Rox said again, with her sad face.
“We shouldn’t be so gloomy about it.” And it is true I genuinely believe witnessing a new beginning of life in the kingdom of nature represents a very happy moment.
”I’m not gloomy,” replied the Fox, perking up a bit. “Why should I be gloomy? I’m just stating a fact. All the young generation seem to be keen on these days is to leave this beautiful environment, move to the city and become urban foxes.”
“Urban foxes? What’s that?” I asked, puzzled by the term.
“ Urban foxes, yes. Apparently, it’s a new trend,” said the Fox.
“Sounds more like a weird name for a religious sect to me,” I said, wondering how sometimes the youngsters could come up with such funny names for their new trends.
“It’s more like a new way of living in the cities. At least that’s what they assure me,” said the Fox, relaxing a bit. “They’ve taken over places like gardens, parks – old areas humans don’t care much about anymore – and turned them into their own. Personally, I think they’re getting too close to them for comfort. That’s the main reason why I’m worried about this new lifestyle they’ve developed.
I believe that keeping humans at a distance is always advisable. You never know when they’re going to turn again against us. They’ll always be humans and we’ll always be animals after all.”
Now she had got started, it was impossible to stop her.
“They don’t fool me with all that caring they give their pet animals! Those animals have been genetically contaminated by human-made inbreeding. They’ve made them simple in the head. If you talk to any of them they think they’re more human than the humans themselves. We’re animals and we better keep it that way. No disrespect to humans – just a gut instinct.”
“I’m not sure I fully understand. What do you mean about all this trouble?” I asked. At first she wouldn’t reply, and now she was going on and on, with her rambling philosophical talk.
“Our youngsters have become so empowered by the fact the humans are not chasing them away, that not only they have lowered their sense of guarding against humans, but – and this is the worst part – they’re turning on each other by forming gangs to control the territory they live in.”
“What for? I know you’ve never been that keen on hunting in packs. Don’t they have enough space and fresh food in the cities to feed everybody?” I was finding it rather difficult to understand the strange behaviour of this new generation of foxes.
“Part of being an urban fox is that you don’t eat the freshly killed meat of other urban animals living in the city. That’s considered passé! It doesn’t taste as good as all that processed food the humans throw out,” she said, trying to make me understand what this was all about. And I have to say she seemed quite knowledgeable. But still it did not make much sense to me.
“Oh, well, that’s good then isn’t it? As long, as it hasn’t turned Foxes into scavengers that end up eating horsemeat?” I said jokingly. I honestly believe that the more animals can live in peace and without that resentment which every killing brings to the different species, the better. No matter how natural the killing is, it always leaves plenty of hatred behind. Besides being a vegetarian myself, I always encourage peaceful behaviour. But the Fox just looked at me with a puzzled look, as if I were talking nonsense and then continued with her story.
“Well if it was just about that, I’d agree with you,” said the Fox. “The problem is that the human food has created a form of dependency to the point of becoming an addiction. You know how controlling we Foxes are about our territory. This has sparked a war for the control of the food chain in the territory. So now there are many rival gangs at war with each other. The result is some gangs have been forced out by this never-ending war. They’ve not been able to get over their addiction and are getting even bolder with humans. Being forced out of the trafficking of the human waste, they’ve diversified the nature of their business and started to go closer and closer to the human households. Sometimes they even manage to get into the humans’ houses, stealing their pets’ food and sometimes getting the pet as well!”
“Good nature! Really? I know you’re quite canny animals but don’t you think that’s a bit too close for comfort? Getting the pet instead of a wild animal is revolting! It’s even worst than eating horsemeat! How can they prefer that?” I asked, horrified at the thought.
“You’re so right! But it’s all part of the dependency on the chemicals the human put into their food. The same goes into their pets’ food. Why do you think they’re so fat? It’s all those artificial additives that have been introduced into the food chain. We are what we eat. So, how do you think a pet that’s been fed with that artificial food is going to taste to an Urban Fox, suffering withdrawal from those very same chemicals? “
“Of course! It makes sense now.” But I was shocked to hear all of theses changes in the Foxes behaviour. It sounded to me like a completely new breed of foxes.

An urban fox at night
“ NonnoPanda, can you understand my desperation, now? I keep telling them they should respect the boundaries with the humans, but they think it’s irrelevant. They believe humans have changed their attitude towards them, and they now like foxes. That might be true, but I think it’s more to do with thr chemicals in the human food that makes them think that way. The sense of entitlement these Urban Foxes have developed – it’s unbelievable. But I’m not sure that attacking the humans’ pets will go unnoticed for much longer. They’ve taken this business so far that some of them now, in a delirious moment of omnipotence, are even attacking the children”
“Wait a minute! Are we talking about the human children?” I could not contain my disbelief at this news. “What were they thinking?”
“Well, they say that if the pets taste so good, can you imagine what the children taste like?” said the Fox in total despair.
“You’re kidding me, right?” I was still thinking the Fox was having me on. But I am afraid she was deadly serious, even though she tried to play it down when she saw me so worried.
“There’ve been only a very few incidents reported. One of those urban foxes entered through the back door and went all the way up to the bedroom where the two youngsters were sleeping. And you know what we’re like when our instinct takes over. We lose ourselves and go into a rampage. And then it’s even more difficult to control yourself when you are driven by a withdrawal symptoms. So the mad animal started to bite the face of one of the children. It was only thanks to their mother rushing into the bedroom after she heard screaming that the worst for the child and the fox was avoided.”
“I hope it was an old urban fox who did that, an outcast, who couldn’t find any other food around. I know life in the city is very tough and everybody’s out for themselves. Otherwise there’s no reason for doing something like that.” I was trying to find a way to justify this behaviour, but it was really hard to make sense of it all.
“Well, I’m afraid, NonnoPanda, that it is not,” said the Fox, who suddenly seemed to feel compelled to tell me all these horrific stories.
“Last week one of those urban rejects managed to get into a house and decided to snatch another infant. It was caught trying to get the child through the catflap for the human’s pet. You can just imagine the parents’ dismay when they saw the fox trying to snatch their baby. The fox was so bold she didn’t even drop her prey when she saw the enraged parents. The father of the baby had to fight with her to get the baby back. I tell you, NonnoPanda, they’ve really lost the plot there, maybe it’s because they’re high on that processed human food, I don’t know, but this addiction isn’t helping their behaviour”
I was speechless. I did not know what to say and, seeing I was in shock, the Fox carried on talking almost to herself.
“I tried to force them to see reason, but they don’t seem to care. I’m worried that, sooner or later, humans will start to change their attitude towards us and they’ll organise a posse to rid them of the vermin problem. Because, you see, we can attack their pets – they just don’t let any cats go out in the city anymore. But if we start getting into their houses and running away with their children, no human in their right mind is going to accept that. All those advances we’ve made over the years in building up tolerance – it’ll be gone like a shot, no matter what.
“Can’t we send them to a rehab centre or something, since they seem to be so keen on trendy things? Maybe we could make it hip for them to go?” I said, suggesting some ideas to avoid a potential massacre.
“No such thing exists as yet big enough to take them all in,” said the Fox.
“You could start with those who’ve attacked the human children first,” I said, trying to think of solutions to what had clearly become a full-scale social problem. “Or maybe you need to cut down the numbers of youngsters flocking into the city? You should do some family awareness planning, explaining what’s going on and what the risks are, so that fewer of them will join the gangs”
“Nonno, of course, we could limit the number of foxes migrating to the cities, but we’ve got a generation of foxes already reproducing there and becoming so accustomed to humans that it’s almost become part of their DNA, and they won’t even listen to any of my country-hick suggestions. You know how arrogant city dwellers can get. They’re exactly the same,” said the Fox. She did not seem to be keen on any of my solutions.
“Then in that case you’ll have to organise some sort of birth-control programme, because you’ll be in danger of losing everything you’ve gained with the humans over the years. If another episode of human child snatching occurs, your youngsters might be up for a rude awakening. I know the humans might be lenient enough to consider you like the next-best pet they’ve ever had in the wild, but when it comes to their own children no human can be so stupid, no matter what kind of food they’ve been gorging on. To put us animals before the interest of their kids would be a disaster for them. Soon there’ll be concentration camps, let alone rehab centres, if you don’t do something fast.” I was quite irritated by all this apathy and pessimism the Fox was showing.
“I know what you mean,” nodded the Fox. “How do you think I feel?”
“Well, then do something about it and fast! Stop talking and focus on a solution! Look what I have to listen to at my advanced age. With all the new things in life the youngsters have to play with these days, they have to come up with this fantasy of Urban Foxes! Well, you know what I have to say? Youngsters like that deserve all they get.”
I know it might not be a Zen solution, but even a Panda has his tolerance threshold. Without waiting for any more excuses, I turned on my heels and walked away. I had to calm down after all that and try not to get upset about these stupid trends the new generation of foxes have created. That’s what you get for being too permissive these days.

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