A Natural History Lesson

Daddy, whatís that?

That, my son, is a Wumbo Wumbo.

Iíve never seen one in the zoo, Daddy.

No, my son, you wonít have;
Wumbo Wumboes have been extinct for over fifty years.

Itís nice, isnít it, Daddy?

Yes my son, itís a very handsome looking animal.

How did it become extinct, Daddy?

Well my son, that is a very long story.

Tell me Daddy!
Tell me about Wumbo Wumboes, Daddy!

Of course, my son.

Once upon a time, long before
Our civilisation began,
There were Wumbo Wumboes.

Nobody knows where the first Wumbo Wumboes came from,
Probably they originated in Africa
(But nobody knows for certain),
They were very hardy animals,
They lived in highly organised societies,
And they had within their societies
A very stable family structure.
Usually the male Wumbo Wumbo was the head of the family,
And mostly Wumbo Wumboes mated for life,

Because of their hardiness and their high intelligence
Wumbo Wumboes quickly spread to every continent:
And about two hundred years ago (when they reached their peak)
There were tens, perhaps hundreds, of millions of them
Spread all over the globe.
But sadly, and perhaps inevitably,
Shortly after the Wumbo Wumboes had spread
Over the entire planetís surface, they began to die out.

For a long time the reason for their extinction remained a mystery,
But nowadays it is generally agreed
By our most eminent and distinguished scientists
That the Wumbo Wumboes died out because of a parasite,
A tiny red organism which probably originated
Somewhere in Eastern Europe (nobody knows exactly where for certain).

The parasite spread rapidly, infecting by degrees
The entire Wumbo Wumbo population worldwide.

Didnít the Wumbo Wumboes have a cure, Daddy?
Didnít they have doctors like us?

It appears not, my son, although I believe
There was one serious attempt made to stamp out the parasite
About twenty years after it first took root,
But the Wumbo Wumboes appear to have misunderstood the true motives of their kinfolk who tried
To eradicate the pest, and they began fighting each other.
They didnít stop fighting for five years, or so,
(Nobody knows exactly how long for certain).

When at last the Wumbo Wumboes stopped fighting,
Theyíd all but forgotten about the parasite,
And finally it destroyed them all.

How did it do that, Daddy?

Initially by affecting their minds,
Manifesting as a minor, then late becoming a major, mental illness.
Then it made the Wumbo Wumboes go blind,
Then deaf, then finally it made them destroy themselves.

How Daddy?

By fighting among themselves,
By affecting their reason, making them campaign for
And even legislate for, their own destruction.
By making them breed down,
Breed out,
And, in many cases, (particularly among their higher elements),
By disrupting their breeding completely.

And now there are none left, Daddy?

No, my son. None at all.

Shame, Daddy.

Yes, it is, my son;
Come on now, letís go and look at some birds.

Does the Wumbo Wumbo have a Latin name, Daddy?

Yes, my son:
Homo sapiens sapiens.
It was also known as the White Man.

Look Daddy, thereís an ostrich!

Back To Poetry Index
Back To Short Stories Index