Panda and pony problems.



Deep in the wood at the back of the house, three pandas and a Shetland pony rested after a long trek.  The Shetland pony, named Josh, stumbled across the pandas who’d escaped from a local zoo, which in recent times had fallen victim to successful escape attempts by the animals who existed there.  This zoo wasn’t one that adhered to the modern principals and practises of the modern well run zoo, it was a horrid place, concrete cages, no vegetation, nothing to stimulate the animals minds or keep them entertained.  This was why one polar bear cub, a pregnant lioness and now three pandas had escaped in the space of six months.  It was said that the proprietors of the zoo weren’t going to attempt to catch up with the escaped animals and recapture them, for it was too expensive, and they just couldn’t be bothered with the hassle of doing all that.  Josh, himself having escaped from a petting zoo after years of job dissatisfaction, had been flagged down by the large male panda, Who’d asked him if he could help them get to a safe place.  Josh, himself lost and looking for a home, at first wondered what he’d do with two adult Pandas and their cub, but, reasoning that the pandas must be as desperate as he was to find a home to be out in a wood in the middle of nowhere, he decided to throw in his lot with them.


Now it was four days later, and they were all exhausted.  Yi Jie, the adult female panda, in an effort to protect Shuang her newborn cub, had sheltered beneath Josh’s body while he stood over them, the Shetland pony’s body giving pitiful shelter.  Kuin-Yin, Yi jie’s mate stood miserable and terrified beside Josh, the Shetland pony nuzzling the male panda’s ear from time to time as a form of reassurance, though Josh had no idea if they’d get anywhere warm soon, let alone safe.  Yi Jie often wept with fear for Shuang’s life.  The cub was so tiny, and so vulnerable to the elements, that whenever it rained, the cub would shiver uncontrollably with cold.

      “It’s getting Desperate here Josh,”  Yi Jie said, clasping Shuang close to her.

      “I doesn’t know what I can suggest,”  the pony replied, hating himself for not having a solution.  Josh knew he was fine, he being a Shetland pony, he was used to harsh weather.  But as he kept reminding himself, the pandas weren’t at all used to this.


The rain started up again, and Shuang snuggled into Yi jie’s fur once more, shivering and weeping with cold, complaining her paws were freezing.  Kuin-Yin looked away when his mate tried to make eye contact with him, ashamed he couldn’t help.

     “I wish you wouldn’t do that Kuin-Yin!”  Yi Jie snapped, “I know you feel ashamed about our situation, but looking away from me isn’t going to solve anything!”

      “I feel so useless!”  Kuin-Yin replied, “I don’t know what to do!”

       “Please, give me eye contact,”  Yi Jie pleaded, “look at me, look at Shuang,

your cub.  For I don’t know if she’ll be here for much longer.  Food isn’t a problem here, but shelter is.  I’m getting weaker, and less able to fight the cold, I don’t know how our cub really feels, she complains when her paws hurt from the cold, but that’s it.”

      “We must, must! Find somewhere tonight,”  Kuin-Yin said, “if we don’t, then, well.”

      “I can run through the wood and sees if I can find something that might ‘elp us,”  Josh suggested.

      “Dear Josh,”  Yi Jie replied, “you’re the best friend we’ve ever had and if you’re going looking, so are we.”  With renewed hope, Yi Jie clambered onto Josh’s back, and Kuin-Yin helped Shuang up, sitting the cub on Josh’s back in front of her mother.

     “Makes dam  sure you ‘old on tight, both of you,”  Josh said, feeling Shuang’s tiny paws gripping his mane, curling her tiny toes into his coat and holding on with everything she had.  Josh reflected that the adult pandas hardly ever took the trouble to hold on properly, and Kuan-Yin was the worst for it, having nearly fallen off four times already.  Josh had gone gently, not galloping, and trying to measure his stride, but the adult male panda had still managed to unbalance himself.  Josh reflected that it was a miracle he’d not fallen off.


Josh walked through the wood, Kuan-Yin following at his heels.  Shuang and Yi jie held on with all four paws, trying not to dig their toes too hard into the Shetland pony’s shaggy coat.  Josh didn’t mind the slight pricking sensation of the bear’s claws.  Walking down the track Josh and the pandas rounded a bend to be confronted by the sight of a huge lion walking towards them.  Panicking, Kuan-yin tried to scramble on board josh’s back, while Yi Jie banged her paws on the pony’s back, in a fear stricken plea to turn and run!  Josh lost his temper with the pandas, and, whinnying loudly, ordered them all off his back.  He regretted this when he heard Shuang land with a thud on the forest floor.


Leo watched this display in utter astonishment.  It seems that an orderly riding party had just become very disorderly indeed.

      “Did I disturb anyone?”  Leo asked.  Josh faced the huge lion.

      “yeah, that you did,”  the pony replied, “you sees, it ain’t that often that we’s seen  a lion, I ‘as, but them pandas now, them ain’t seen one at all, or if them as, then they’s ‘ad bad experiences with one.  Now I’s asking you questions.  What on earth is a lion doing ‘ere anyway?  What’s your name? and does you know anywhere we can spends the night?”  Leo smiled at the pony’s dialect.

      “Well, my name’s Leo,”  he replied, “I’m here because I was walking in the woods by my house.  I live here, in the house I mean, and the woods are owned by the boss of the house.  Now I’d like to know your names, and whether you come in peace.”

       “We do come in peace, we do!”  Yi Jie said, stepping forward.  Josh was about to block Leo’s line when the huge lion looked straight at him, shaking his head.

     “Let her come to me,”  he purred, “I will not hurt any of you.”

   Yi jie padded forward and Leo took her in his huge paws and hugged her.  Surprised, Yi jie stiffened, but when she felt no threat from the huge paws, and that the claws were retracted, she relaxed a little.

      “What’s your name?”  Leo asked the female panda.

     “My name is Yi jie, she replied.

     “Yi Jie, not an English name I think,”  Leo purred.

     “No, no sir, it’s Chinese,”  Yi Jie replied, “my cub’s name is Shuang, and my mate’s is Kuan-Yin.  Now, now, I wonder, please sir, could you tell us where we can spend the night?”  Leo looked over at Shuang.

      “Your cub is exhausted and suffering from the cold,”  he mewed, “I think I will prevail upon my brother to allow you all into the house, or as many of you as will come.”

      “I ain’t going in no ‘ouse,”  Josh snorted, “I’s an ‘orse I is, and ‘ouses ain’t my thing.”  Leo looked at the Shetland pony.

     “We have stables out the back,”  he mewed, “you can stay there.  The pandas though, they can come indoors if they will, and there we will take them in our paws and welcome them.”  Yi Jie felt Leo’s huge paws holding her, and wondered what the other animals he spoke of were like.  She warmed to this huge lion, was his brother as kind and gentle as he was?”

        “Hey!  Leo, Leo!”  Theo yelled, trotting down the track towards his brother.  Leo looked at his brother, then back at the female panda cradled in his paws.

      “these um, four want a home?”  Theo asked, waving a paw at the three pandas and one pony.

      “It looks like they do,”  Leo mewed, “of course, it’s your call now Theo, you’re leader here.”  Theo looked at Yi jie, the panda looking fearfully back at him.

     “come with us,”  Theo mewed, walking away.  Leo, Josh  and the three pandas followed.


Once in the garden, Josh left for the stables, while Yi Jie and her family headed for the house.


Crawling into the house, the pandas found themselves surrounded by animals of all descriptions.  Yi jie felt her paw taken in that of a large cub, who began to stroke it.  Yi jie looked over at the cub, seeing a cat like creature with dirty brown fur and black spots on her face and paws.

     “Who are you?”  Yi jie asked.

     “My name’s fleur,”  fleur replied, still stroking her paw.  Yi Jie looked into the strange cub’s eyes, her initial reservations vanishing.

      “You are a beautiful cub fleur,”  Yi jie said, as the paw massage had it’s age old affect.  The female panda stretched out on her side, leaving her paws in Fleur’s care.  Fleur stroked Yi Jie’s paws, Yi Jie’s cub and mate watching her.

     “You are so gentle Fleur,”  Shuang said.  Fleur smiled at the panda cub.

      “Is it normal here for a cub to take hold of a stranger’s paw without warning?”  Kuan-Yin asked.

      “We said we’d take you in our paws,”  Theo mewed, “here we are very tactile, preferring to touch each other to find out mood.”

     “So it all turns on how one animal picks up another animal’s paw?”  Shuang asked.

     “it does,”  Fleur mewed, “try it Shuang, go up to, um,”  she looked round her, spotted Theo and waved her paw at him.

      “Go over to him and pick up his paw,”  Fleur purred.

     “But, but he’s the leader, I can’t do that!”  Shuang protested.

      “Do it with consideration and good intentions, and you will be able to take that lion’s paw in yours and stroke it as easily as I did your mum’s,”  Fleur replied.  Shuang padded across to Theo, and, taking a deep breath, slipped her tiny paw under his left forepaw and lifted it, cupping it in her tiny paws.  Theo, seemingly ignoring this, was actually judging the panda cub’s real mood, whether he was safe with her or not.  Shuang’s paws told him she was nervous, understandable in the circumstances, but genuinely gentle.  Theo curled his toes round the cub’s, holding her paw pads against his.

      “Stroke my paws Little cub,”  Theo purred, “stroke all four of them.  Shuang looked at Theo:

     “Are you sure you want me to?”  She asked.

      “yes,”  Theo purred, “you want to make peace with those around you, why not start with the community leader?”  Shuang looked at Theo while she stroked his paws, instantly liking the young lion.

      “What’s your name?”  Shuang asked.

     “Theo,”  the lion replied, rapidly falling asleep.  Shuang noticed Theo’s paws relaxing in her own.  Kuan-Yin watched his cub anxiously, fearful that the huge lion, who’s paws she was stroking with sudden familiarity, would turn on her and rip her apart.  Kuan-Yin was furious with Yi Jie for falling asleep, for giving in to the strange muddy brown furred cub’s charms so easily.  Stamping his paws with rage, he stormed up the stairs to the cubbing den door, bursting in on Elsa and her family.

      “What the hell is that!”  Leona mewed, waving her paw at Kuan-yin.

      “I don’t know for sure,”  Elsa replied, “but I think he’s a panda.”  Kuan-Yin growled at the lioness and her cubs, furious with fear!

      “My mate and cub are down there with your leader and a cat cub with funny fur!”  The panda yelled, waving his paw down the stairs, “My cub’s stroking the leader’s paws, and the cub with the funny fur is stroking my mate’s paws!  I want you to stop them!  It’s wrong!”

      “No it’s not,”  Jespah mewed, “you don’t know Fleur, she’s lovely!”

    “Lovely or not,”  Kuan-yin yelled, “she took hold of my mate’s paw as soon as she saw her, and Yi Jie had no choice but to let her have her paw!”

     “It might have looked like she had no choice,”  Jespah mewed, “but your mate had every opportunity to take her paw from Fleur’s, she chose not to though.  I know Fleur’s touch, it’s non invasive, non threatening, and totally lovely.”  Kuan-Yin stamped his paw in rage!

      “I don’t hold with all this!”  He yelled.

     “You can always leave,”  Elsa mewed, stretching her paws, which unnerved the panda even more.

      “no, no, no!”  Kuan-Yin protested.

     “Then you’ll have to get used to our ways,”  won’t you,”  Petra mewed.  Kuan-Yin turned and fled!


Meanwhile, Brydy, Domino and Rosie were talking to Josh.

     “So where have you come from?”  Domino asked Josh.

       “I’s come from a petting zoo a long way from ‘ere,”  Josh replied, “’twas a long walk from ‘ere.”

     “What are you saying?”  Domino snapped, “Josh, speak English will you!”

      “Course I’s speaking English,”  Josh whinnied, “you can understands me perfect if you tries.”

      “I can, and I’m only a foal,”  Rosie said.

      “I wish you wouldn’t insist on everyone speaking the queen’s English Domino,”  Brydy whinnied, “it would be so boring if we all spoke alike.”

     “We’d be able to understand each other a lot easier though!”  Domino yelled.

     “Na,”  Josh replied, “that ain’t right miss, I’s easy to understand, at least I thinks I is.”  Rosie rolled on the floor laughing at this.

      “You are so funny,”  Rosie whinnied.

      “I doesn’t think I is,”  Josh whinnied, stamping his feet theatrically, playing up to Rosie, who roared with laughter at his antics.

      “We’ve got a clown here too,”  Domino said wearily.


Meanwhile, Yi Jie had surfaced from her massage induced sleep, feeling totally relaxed from her nose to the toes of all four rather fat paws.  She looked at the cub who’d massaged her paws.  The muddy brown cub’s paws were chunky, like her own in many ways.  Yi Jie reached over and took the cub’s paw in hers, she’d been told the cub’s name, but couldn’t remember it, something to do with flowers she thought, but wasn’t entirely sure.  Yi Jie taking her paw woke Fleur, who looked into the female panda’s eyes.

      “you do stroke paws well,”  Yi Jie said softly, fleur smiling at her words.

      “I thought you might like it,”  she said, “I could tell it would be of benefit to you.”

      “My cub, Shuang,”  Yi Jie said, “I don’t know if she might enjoy the same thing, you see, when we were cold in the wood, I tried to warm her paws, but it didn’t work very well.”

     “Your cub?”  Fleur asked, looking round for the tiny panda cub she’d seen crawling into the house hours before, “she’s only newborn isn’t she?”  Yi Jie nodded:

     “I was, am still frightened something might happen to her,”  the female panda replied, “I don’t know where she is!”  Fleur could see Shuang, the cub was asleep in Theo’s paws.

      “Your cub is totally safe,”  Fleur said, “she’s with my friend, our leader.”  Yi Jie followed Fleur’s gaze.  She saw her cub in the paws of a young lion.

      “He looks as if he loves my cub as much as Kuan-yin does,”  Yi Jie said, “is it possible for a lion to love a panda cub as much as her own sire does?”

      “Theo is no ordinary lion Yi Jie,”  Fleur replied, “while everyone is special in their own way, he’s extra special, in that he’s got abilities noone here understands properly.  He can see into the minds of animals.  There are one or two here who have that gift.  I am not one of them.”

       “Don’t do yourself down though Fleur,”  Hop along said, “you have healing power.”

      “That I might have,”  Fleur replied, “but I don’t really know how that works either.”

      “Your paws do the healing,”  Hop along mewed, “that’s all you need to know.”

      “You have the touch, that’s for sure,”  Yi Jie said.


Kuan-Yin came stamping into the room.  Seeing his mate holding the paw of the cub with the muddy brown fur, he demanded to know what was going on!

      “This cub’s, well, helping me,”  Yi Jie said.  She looked helplessly at fleur, begging her silently to remind her of her name.

       “This cub?”  Kuan-Yin asked, “Fleur’s nothing but a sorceress!  I’ve heard of her powers!”  fleur growled at the panda, which alerted ~Theo and Leo, who both fixed him with hostile stares.

      “Don’t you dare talk of sorcery,”  Leo snarled.

      “Why not!”  Kuan-Yin yelled, “she’s horrid, with huge fat paws, and she made my mate go to sleep!  Now, now I come down from a hostile talk with a lioness and her many cubs, to be confronted by the sight of my mate holding the paw of this, this funny furred cat cub!”

       “Fleur’s lovely,”  Yi Jie said.  Kuan-Yin suddenly ran round and kicked Fleur hard!  Fleur grunted with pain, curling into a tight ball to protect herself.  Suddenly Kuan-Yin found himself on his back on the floor, a huge lion on top of him!  Leo belted the panda across his nose with one huge paw!

      “Now you will pay for that!”  Leo snarled, “you dare to assault one of our cubs!  You will now learn what happens if you get on the wrong side of us!”  Yi Jie didn’t bother pleading for mercy for her mate, for she knew he wouldn’t get any from this community, and privately, she felt he deserved none at all.  Yi Jie had long ago realised the community was gentle to those who needed help, and would give everything they had to help anyone, but attack any of their number, including fat cubs with muddy brown fur, there would be trouble.


Kuan-Yin began to cry, for the lion’s paw was hard.  Leo had smacked the panda with his paw open, toes spread so the pads were hard and unyielding.  Couple this with the strength of an angry lion in the prime of his life, and there was really no contest the panda could offer.


Yi Jie wondered what she could do, when she realised Fleur was still beside her, curled in a miserable mewing heap on the floor.  The female panda, realising her own cub was safe, transferred her attentions to fleur, stroking, licking and nuzzling the cross bred cub until fleur relaxed enough to let her take a look for any possible injury.  Yi Jie found Fleur was only bruised, but still she tended to the cub, stroking and massaging her from her nose to the end of her long tail.  Shuang saw what her mother was doing, and, crawling over to fleur, began to help Yi Jie out, working on Fleur’s hind paws with her tiny forepaws.  Fleur curled her toes round Shuang’s as the tiny panda cub stroked her pads and toes.

      “You are so gentle little one,”  fleur whispered.  Shuang smiled and patted the pads of Fleur’s right hind paw.  Yi Jie looked at her cub.

      “Are your paws warm now little cub?”  She asked.  Shuang smiled and nodded.  Kuan-Yin saw his mate and cub stroking the funny furred cat cub, and snarled with anger!  Clenching his paws, the male panda battered at Leo’s head, the lion casually opening his mouth and clamping the Panda’s head in his jaws.  Kuan-Yin stopped struggling, now scared as well as disgusted at what the lion had done.  Feeling the panda relax, Leo released his head.

      “That was horrible!”  Kuan-Yin yelled, wiping his face with his paw, “that’s disgusting!”

      “That’s the lion’s death hold Kuan-Yin,”  Theo mewed.

      “You, you wanted to kill me?”  the male panda asked.

      “I don’t know,”  Leo growled, “I am very loyal to fleur, and after your behaviour today, I might just murder you!  You do not kick our cubs!”

      “I hate that scruffy brown furred thing!”  Kuan-yin yelled.

      “Well, you can leave then!”  Shuang shouted.  Yi Jie looked at her cub.

      “You can’t say that to your sire!”  she remonstrated.

     “Oh yes I can!”  Shuang snapped, “especially when he meant to do Fleur harm.  Fleur’s a lovely cub, and Kuan-Yin was horrid to her, and I hate him for it, and there was no need for him to be horrid to her, and he’s upset me and Fleur!”  Yi Jie couldn’t deny the severity of Kuan-Yin’s actions.

      “I will spare you as you have a cub,”  Leo snarled, “but mark my words, if you do anything like this again Kuan-Yin, you’ll be hunted down and eaten!  I promise you that!”  Theo looked at his brother, shocked at his words.

     “Leo, no!”  he protested.

      “I’ve never eaten panda before,”  Leo snarled, “but I will if this panda puts a paw out of line!”  Then Leo opened his mouth and roared!  The sound reverberated around the room, and Yi Jie hugged her cub as the sound seemed to shake the ground beneath her paws.


Leo’s roar brought Elsa and her cubs down from the cubbing den, Elsa terrified and her cubs excited by the sound.

      “Lock the panda up!”  Bruin yelled.

      “Agreed,”  Elsa mewed, “I know Leo wouldn’t pounce on the panda unless he had very good reason.”

     “He kicked fleur!  He kicked Fleur!”  Shuang sobbed, now terrified.

     “What!”  Elsa asked, her fur bristling with anger, “is this true?”

      “yes, it’s true, it’s all true!”  Shuang yelled.  Elsa felt the cub’s words to be truthful, but looked at Theo for confirmation.  The lion nodded at her.

      “Now I will take  revenge on Fleur’s behalf!”  Elsa yelled, leaping at Kuan-Yin.  Leo rolled off the panda, letting Elsa take his place in pinning the panda to the floor.  Kuan-Yin realised he was in real trouble now.  Not only was he pinned down by a member of an enraged community, the mother of the cub he’d attacked was the one pinning him down!


Josh watched the goings on in the house from his stable, which had a window looking into the house.  He hadn’t heard what had gone on in the house, but he knew things must be bad if the lions were taking their revenge on Kuan-Yin.  Josh yanked on a rope beside the window and the window raised itself.  Josh could now put his head into the living room and let the pandas stroke him.  Raising the window, Josh was able to hear the yelling and screaming coming from the enraged lions and terrified panda.

     “Shut up all of you!”  Josh whinnied.  The noise switched itself off as everyone stared at the Shetland pony, or as much of him as they could see.

     “You lot are making one ‘ell of a racket!”  the pony squealed.

     “Oh sorry, sorry, sorry,”  Leo spat, he hated the horses.

      “You doesn’t need to make such a bloody noise though does you?”  Josh whinnied.

      “You keep your long nose out of this!”  Leo snarled, leaping to his feet and rushing at the window.  Josh recoiled, yanking the rope to close the window, the window crashing down on Leo’s paws!  Leo screamed and fought to free himself.  Josh hauled on the rope, crushing Leo’s paws as hard as he could with the weight of the window and his pressure on the rope.  Leo couldn’t free himself, and began to cry with pain.  Josh leant back, the rope in his mouth.  Leo, his nose inches from the glass screamed and screamed with pain!

      “Quick!”  fleur mewed, “let’s all get onto the rope on our side, we might be able to pull against the horse!”  While Fleur and the other cubs sprinted for the rope which opened the window on their side, Theo and Salty ran round to the stables from the outside, and, bursting in, attacked Josh!  The horse, seeing the enraged animals coming for him, dropped the rope, enabling the cubs to pull the rope and free Leo!  Leo fell to the carpet, crying with fear and pain.  Fleur, Aslan and Petra dragged Leo away, while the other adult animals, except Elsa who still pinned down Kuan-Yin, streamed outside to deal with Josh.  Josh, seeing polar bears, otters, leopards and other animals coming for him, turned and kicked his way out of the stables!  Charging for the wood, Josh fled!


Meanwhile, Leo lay on the carpet, while fleur and her group of cubs, numbering all the cubs in the household, did their best to comfort and soothe him.  Leo felt tiny paws stroking him from all angles, and it felt wonderful.  Some of the cubs even attempted to stroke his crushed paws, Leo gently putting a stop to this with soft, firm growling and withdrawal of his paws, , as paw massage hurt him too much.


Meanwhile, three snow leopards, one lion, and uncountable bears of varying description chased Josh into the wood, baying for his blood.


Josh ran for his life, Theo snapping at his tail!


Meanwhile, back in the living room, Leo and the cubs settled down together, Leo marshalling the cubs round him, realising the value of each one of the tiny creatures.  The cubs might have been marshalled by fleur, and shown by her what they should do to soothe Leo’s pain, but after that, they’d improvised, stroking, massaging, and sometimes tickling Leo to make him forget his painful paws.  It had worked wonders for the lion, who now lay contentedly on the floor.  Leo’s paws were checked over by Fleur, who gently examined them with her paws.  She found dislocated toes and bruising, but other than that, very little damage.  This was probably down to the draught excluders on the windows, which prevented the hard metal frames from crushing and injuring Leo’s paws further.  Fleur looked up at Leo, the lion’s eyes showing her plainly he was in pain.

    “the sooner we do this, the better it will be,”  Fleur said, “I’m going to relocate your toes Leo.”  Leo mewed pitifully, but gave her his paw.

      “Now curl your toes Leo, curl them really hard!”  Fleur said.  Leo did as she asked, but the pain was too much, and he couldn’t get them to the point where they would relocate to their proper places.  So fleur grabbed Leo’s paw and curled his toes for him, the lion roaring and screaming with pain!  Fleur quickly made sure the toes on Leo’s left forepaw were back in place, then worked on his right forepaw.  Leo, crying with pain and fear, swore at Fleur, telling her she was a bitch, a sod, a swine, and many other things which can’t be printed here.  Fleur ignored him, getting on with her work of relocating his toes.  With a final scrunch, the last of Leo’s toes were repositioned, and his pain was reduced to a dull ache.  Leo, when he realised fleur had cured his pain, began weeping with joy, not anger.  He threw his paws round the cub, hugging her and kissing her on her nose.  Fleur laughed merrily and playfully batted at Leo’s whiskers throughout all his attentions.


Theo and the others returned soon after this, Theo expecting to have to perform major first aid on Leo.  When he saw his brother not only putting weight on his once injured paws, but letting cubs stroke and tickle them, he could hardly believe his eyes.

     “But I saw you fall on the floor Leo!”  Theo said straight off, “you couldn’t walk on those paws, let alone let cubs touch them!”

     “It’s all thanks to these cubs, Fleur in particular,”  Leo said, briefly telling his brother the story.  Theo looked at Fleur.

      “We all owe you a lot fleur,”  Theo said, “thank you.”  Fleur hid her face behind one huge spotted paw, embarrassed by Theo’s words.


Meanwhile, Josh hid in the wood, realising slamming the window on Leo’s paws was a bad enough mistake, attempting to crush his paws with the window was worse!


Josh knew Theo would kill him if he got the chance, so he kept an eye out for the lion.


What Josh didn’t realise was that another lion, one who he’d not met or even seen yet was prowling the wood.  Clarence knew from Tib of Josh’s arrival, and of his attack on Leo.  Now Clarence saw Leo’s attacker, and the horse was very aware it seemed.  Clarence knew Theo had chased Josh from the house, so maybe the horse wasn’t looking for any other lions to appear.  Clarence turned his paws on their sides, and crawled towards the horse.  When he was within ten feet, Clarence got to his feet and charged!  Josh had no time to react!  He heard the drumming of paws on leaves, then felt a huge weight slam into him!  Josh lashed out, but the thing was on top of him, and bringing him down!  Josh hit the floor with a crash!  Clarence stood over the prostrate horse.

      “You ill prepared nag!”  Clarence yelled at Josh, who shook from nose to tail when he saw who’d brought him down.

      “You ain’t gonna do nothing to me is you?”  Josh panted.

      “I don’t know,”  Clarence replied, “I can’t really trap your hooves in the window like you did Leo’s paws, for that wouldn’t be practical, nor would it hurt you in any way.”  Josh saw the lion’s huge paws and angry eyes.

     “I’s leaving anyway,”  Josh whinnied, “I doesn’t like the other animals in this place, them’s too weird!  I was attacked by leopards and bears!  ‘ow does them gets together like that!  This community is un’ealthy!  I saw a panda stroking the paws of a snow leopard tiger type cub.  That ain’t right!  Nor is lions comforting panda cubs, but that’s what I saw ‘appen!”  Clarence wasn’t surprised by Josh’s account.

      “We are a very gentle and tolerant community,”  Clarence said.

     “Oh yeah, I’s nearly forgetting,”  Josh whinnied, “a bleedin’ great lioness ‘as got Kuan-Yin pinned down under ‘er body.  ‘e attacked ‘er cub or something.”  Clarence knew who Kuan-Yin was, and also knew who the lioness was too.

      “Elsa must be pretty mad to attack a panda,”  Clarence said, “what did Kuan-Yin do?”

     “’e kicked the cub with the muddy fur I thinks,”  Josh replied.

      “You don’t get away with kicking Elsa’s cubs,” Clarence mewed.

      “no,”  Josh replied, the weight of the lion’s presence beginning to tell now, “I can sees that.  Look, would you let me go?  I’ll go, I’ll never trouble you again!”  Clarence lifted himself off Josh, keeping one paw in contact with the horse until he could leap out of range of the dangerous hooves.

      “Now,”  Clarence said, “leave here Josh!  If you come back here, then I will tear you to bits!”  Josh got to his feet and shuffled away, much relieved, but also grateful to the lion for doing no more than knocking him down.  That lion could have torn him to bits, but he didn’t even hint at it.  He’d discussed the possibility of harming Josh, but hadn’t done so.  Josh was more grateful to the lion than he could put into words.


Clarence watched Josh leave.  He knew Theo probably wouldn’t approve of his soft pawed approach to the horse who’d caused Leo so much pain, but Clarence hoped that the threat of retribution if Josh came back to the community would be enough.


Clarence returned to the house, to find Elsa still pinning Kuan-Yin down.  The panda looked terrified, having been on his back now for close on an hour and a half with Elsa almost sitting smack on top of him.

      “Let me go!”  the male panda begged.

      “Only if you apologise to fleur, and promise her and the rest of my cubs that you’ll leave them alone!”  Elsa yelled into Kuan-Yin’s face.  Kuan-Yin replied that all he wanted to do was to leave this dreadful place, taking his cub and mate  with him.

      “We’re not leaving,”  Yi Jie said to her mate.

       “this is no place for pandas!”  Kuan-Yin yelled.

      “It’s the place for me,”  Shuang replied dreamily, for Fleur was now stroking her paws.

     “Me too,”  Yi Jie replied, Theo stroking her paws.  Kuan-Yin could not see where his mate and cub were, nor who was stroking them, but he could tell they were being stroked by other animals.

      “If you let me get up, I will talk to Fleur and to the rest of your cubs,”  Kuan-Yin said to Elsa.  Elsa levered herself off of the panda, and he got to his feet.

       “I can’t believe what I’m seeing!”  Kuan-Yin yelled as he caught sight of his mate and cub in the paws of the community leader and funny furred cub respectively.

      “We can tell we are loved here,”  Yi Jie said.

     “Yes,”  Shuang replied, “I know we are loved here.”  Kuan-Yin stamped out of the house, furious with the whole setup.

       “All this touching of noses, whiskers and paws,”  he grumbled, “it’s unnatural behaviour!  Especially when there are predators hugging potential prey animals!”  Theo listened to his ranting, but ignored it, concentrating on stroking and massaging Yi Jie’s paws.


Kuan-Yin slept in the stable that night, unable to cope with the community’s behaviour.



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