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« Let's visit another city, too, Pleeeeeeeez!


Endangered Species Postcards are available at the end of this article.

Dedicated to my dad...


  with special thanks to Ogden Nash for his humorous, animated verse.


Peace, peace, thou hippopotamus! 

We really look all right to us,

As you no doubt delight the eye 

Of other hippopotami.

The Hippopotamus
by Ogden Nash



In the animal kingdom, an endangered species is any type of animal that is in danger of disappearing forever. If a species, a type of animal, dies out completely, it becomes extinct. Do you know of any animals that have become extinct?


          PEACE HIPPO!  * and other ENDANGERED ANIMALS too




Heckery Dekkery Dog, affectionately known as Rufus, is curious. Do you get along well with animals? Rufus knows how important it is to get along with people. After all, Rufus depends on the people around him for his care and for his education. Rufus knows that they love him, and he loves them back in his own special way. He wags his tail when someone he knows comes near for instance. And, just like you, Rufus has feelings, too! Rufus has heard that some people don’t care very much about the feelings of animals, though, and that makes him sad. Rufus feels that we should ALL care for each other because we need each other! Do you feel that way, too?

Rufus has been thinking about the situation for awhile, and after a few scratches behind the ear, he is determined to do what he can. “It should be easy for people and animals to live side by side”, says Rufus! But, for a number of not-so-good reasons, animals are being harmed every day. And, now, many of them are on an endangered species list and may soon become extinct. That means that they could disappear forever unless something is done to save them. Naturally, this has Rufus upset! He is happy to know, however, that some caring people are working to change this urgent situation before it is too late. After all, Rufus might not be here today had it not been for caring people. Rufus is a Havanese,  and his breed was almost extinct not so long ago. Rufus would like you to know some special qualities about some of the animals on the endangered species list. Rufus thinks that the more people know, the better!

"Believe with all your heart that you can make a difference!" - Rufus

Rufus with some inanimate yard friends

Let's begin with the hippopotamus, shall we? 

Did you know that a hippopotamus could dance under water, Rufus?


Yes, it’s true! Rufus started to bark and to dance in circles when he heard! Rufus loves to dance, by the way.

Do you?


©  |
A chorus line

Anyway, it’s a really cool fact! Hippopotami may look rather clumsy on land, after all they are enormous mammals weighing between 1,200 to over 6,000 pounds, but they are quite graceful in the water. They sink to the bottom of rivers where they walk or run for up to five minutes! Wouldn’t it be fun to be able to do that.


Wikimedia Commons

What would you ask a hippopotamus if you had the opportunity? 


Rufus made a list of things he would ask if he could:



Do you live in Africa?
Do you weigh yourself on a bathroom scale?
Are you, by definition, enormous?
Since you can swim under water for five to six minutes at a time,
are you semi-aquatic?
After the elephant and the white rhino, are you the third largest living land animal in the world?


Great questions, Rufus! And, the answer to all but one is YES! Which question do you think was most likely answered “NO”? Can you guess?

You are so smart! If a hippopotamus would weigh himself on a bathroom scale, the scale would let out a GROWN, wouldn't it! Whoops, Rufus says it's GROAN, and he is right! He is so smart, too! Rufus thinks English can be really tricky sometimes. Do you agree? It would be nice, though, if a bathroom scale could also tell you when you're fully grown!



Peek a Boo! I see you!



Xiao Liwu im San Diego Zoo
WikimediaCommons - Johann Balleis



The Panda


I love the Baby Giant Panda
I'd welcome one to my veranda.

                                  The Panda
by Ogden Nash



What is causing the Giant Panda to become extinct?


Wang Wang
Wikimedia Commons - Manyman


Pandas live in China and in zoos around the world. They have few natural predators, and since pandas are highly respected, they are not being hunted which makes them different from most other endangered species.

Pandas, nevertheless, are still on the endangered species list because their natural habitat is continually shrinking. The forests where pandas live are being cut for the wood and for planting crops thereby reducing the supply of bamboo which is necessary for the pandas survival.

Pandas, which are as small as a stick of butter when newborn, can weigh up to 330 pounds as adults. They eat between 26 to 84 pounds of bamboo daily! It is not an easy task, and the panda makes good use of his opposable thumbs in the process. What are opposable thumbs? Opposable thumbs allow the panda to hold onto things just as you do when you hold your pencil or pick up your tablet. Do you think that a panda could text with his opposable thumbs?

The building of roads and railroads also have an impact on the pandas’ habitat because they interfere with the pandas’ ability to get around and to find a mate. After all, pandas can’t drive or take the train when they go out on a date.


The Tiger! 

Tiger! Tiger! my mistake...

Epitaph for an Explorer

by Ogden Nash

John and Karen Hollingsworth
Wikimedia Commons
Do you have a cat? Rufus would love to get to know cats better, but they won’t let him get very close!


Please! Pardon! See me shake!
I didn't know you were wide awak
e. Shhh!

Before you get close to a tiger, BEWARE! Tigers are the largest of all the Asian big cats. They weigh anywhere from 200 to more than 600 pounds, and they can be anywhere from 4 – 10 feet in length. Rufus thinks he would rather admire these animals from afar, and that you should, too! That is good advice coming, as it does, from such a little dog!

Tigers are not all the same. There are many subspecies so their habitat is varied. Tigers live in tropical rain-forests, evergreen forests, mangrove swamps, grasslands, savannas, and temperate forests. They rely more on sight and sound instead of smell, and they typically hunt alone. Did you know that a tiger can eat up to 88 pounds of meat at one time? WOW! If Rufus ate that much meat at his mealtime, he would become quite big in a hurry!



The Lion


The lion is the king of beasts,

And husband of the lioness.

Gazelles and things on which he feasts

Address him as your highoness. 

The Lion
by Ogden Nash



Wikimedia Commons


The lion has always been a symbol of strength. Its powerful roar can be heard from five miles away! After the tiger, the lion is the second largest cat in the world! “Stay Back, Rufus, please stay back”!

Lions can be found in Africa and the Sasan-Gir National Park in India, but at one time they could be found in Europe and Asia as well. Lions are carnivores which means they are meat eaters. Rufus says that just because they do not eat vegetables does not mean that you shouldn’t eat yours! Another piece of good advice coming from such a little dog!

The male lion, who weighs anywhere from 300 – 500 pounds, has a thick, bushy mane around his face, but he doesn’t shave. Lions can run at 50 miles per hour for short distances, and they can leap 36 feet! Lions would need a big hopscotch board if they could be pleasant enough to join in that game! Rufus likes hopscotch! The Havanese can really hop, and Rufus is no exception. He prefers, nevertheless, to run off with the marker! “Rufus, stop that and please give it back”!


                                                               Photo Credit - © Mkoudis |

Meanwhile, unlike other cats, lions live in social groups called prides which consist of as many as 15 lions. They sleep during the day and come out at night which means that they are nocturnal. They are territorial, too. This land is my land….Hear me ROAR!


The Elephant

Elephants are useful friends,

The Elephant
by Ogden Nash



Elephants are vegetarians so they do eat their vegetables. Their long trunk can be used to pick up objects, to sound warnings and to greet other elephants! It can also be used as a hose for drinking water and for bathing. Rufus thinks it would make bath time a lot more fun if an elephant could rinse him afterwards! Can you imagine?

                                           Jenny Downing from Geneva, Switzerland
                                                                           Wikimedia Commons
This is an elephant's trunk.



Elephants like to rest during the day when it’s hot and only lie down for a few hours at night. You may have noticed how big they are, too! African elephants grow up to 13 feet tall at their shoulder, and weighing up to eight tons, they are the largest land mammal in the world! Their Asian relatives grow up to 11 and a half feet tall at their shoulder. Even a newborn baby elephant is about 3 feet tall and weighs (Are you sitting down?) about 200 pounds! How much do you weigh?

“Wow, what BIG ears elephants have, and BIG teeth, too,” Rufus exclaimed! By the way, Rufus, those are tusks that you see, not teeth. But, you are correct, elephants do have BIG ears!


If you think the elephant preposterous,

- Ogden Nash





Gary M. Stolz, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

     Wikimedia Commons




You've probably never seen a rhinosterous.

- Ogden Nash





John and Karen Hollingsworth, U:S: Fish and Wildlife Service

            Wikimedia Commons


The Rhinoceros

The rhino is a homely beast,

For human eyes he's not a feast. 

Farwell, farewell, you old rhinoceros, 

I'll stare at something less prepoceros.

The Rhinoceros
- Ogden Nash




Dear Mr. Ogden Nash,

I just read your poem, "The Rhinoceros",

and I think it's really funny!


Only, I was always taught to believe
that beauty lies in the beholder's eye.


In fact, I think you said that before 

about the hippopotami. . . .


Were you aware of the rhinos’ poor eyesight?
(They have a horn in the middle of their face for goodness sake!)

Please correct me if I'm wrong,
but it's probably pretty easy 
then for rhinos

to delight the eye of other rhinos, too.



Anyway, nevertheless, 

they still have feelings like all the rest.

And, I have read somewhere before 

that rhinos actually possess

a good sense of hearing and smell.


Certainly, that’s a good sense of smell as well,

but they may smell, too! I do not know. . . .

They probably have never heard

'Soap on a rope' is a really good deal!


Finally, and I don't mean maybe!

Alphabetically, from A to Z,

ALL animals have the right to be,
as I am sure you would agree!


--Heckery Dekkery Dog,
affectionately known as Rufus


Rufus does not want this story to end here! He is happy that caring people are working to prevent endangered animals from becoming extinct, and he hopes that you will want to know more. Rufus believes with all his heart that the more people know about endangered animals, the more they will be able to help them live in peace. There are a number of wildlife organizations doing what they can to help. Rufus plans to get involved and hopes that you will, too. Rufus thinks it's a good place to begin.

Heckery Dekkery Dot Travel Game Postcards for Children and Rufus are happy that there are people who are trying to prevent animals from becoming extinct. With the help of your parents or your teachers, please take some time to learn more about endangered species. Learn what is being done to help save these animals from disappearing forever.

Here is a directory to the most endangered species which was compiled by the World Wildlife Fund - WWF.



It takes all sorts of animals to make the world colorful, amazing, and amusing.

Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns - 1835-1921
French composer - “The Carnival of the Animals”

And, again, special thanks to Ogden Nash for his humorous, animated verse.

Copyright © 2002, 2006 by Ogden Nash.

Reprinted by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd.

Learn more about endangered species at Kids Britannica 

the World Wide Fund for Nature

and at
 United for Wildlife.



Who will win?

Everyone wins when children learn more about the world around them!





Kids Britannica


World Wide Fund for Nature


The Vermont Symphony Orchestra

Peace, Love and Increase - Kalimbaradio

Wikimedia Commons - 


A special thank you goes to my daughters Alicia and Janella for their valuable input and to my husband Barthold, to Eveline, and to the Damen der Englisch-Gruppe in Marburg for their help 
with the German translations.



All photos on this site were taken by me on my travels unless otherwise indicated.


Please ask a parent or another grownup to travel with you whenever you visit on-line sites.
It’s much more fun than traveling alone!


#Ogden Nash #Poetry #Music #Children #Teachers #Parents #Family 


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