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An important conference was h##d early last night at the Bronx Zoological Gardens. It was supposed to be one of those hush-hush conferences. The press was barred. To insure the utmost secrecy, the committee in charge of the conclave had requested the park authorities to post extra guards around all entrances.

But your reporter had got wind of the proposed parley through the grapevine channels that run from all over the world direct to the bottom drawer of his desk. And with him, to get wind of a secret confabulation is like tossing a pansy at a Nazi official. It was a challenge, a dare, an invitation to the combat.

Such a challenge to a reporter is usually enough to enable him to surmount seemingly impassable barriers. In the case of this particular news terrier, there was the added incentive of a report that the meeting would be attended by an unofficial representative of the Nazi regime.

It was no wonder then that the secret conference at Bronx Park held no secrets last night from the writer. And those secrets, which he was able to penetrate at the mere cost of a torn seat out of a pair of trousers which he had long ago decided to discard anyway, are now about to be divulged exclusively in the Day Book.

The conference was held in the ostrich corral. Present were the following members of the Empire of Zoo: Oscar Ostrich, Emanuel Monk, Sammy Snake, Charley Crocodile and Slim Skunk. Although none of the delegates wore identification badges on their lapels, it was not very difficult for the keen-eyed Bulletin man to establish their identities. The problem of identities was made comparatively simple by the immediate elimination of one of the conferees from the doubtful class. It was impossible to mistake the Nazi emissary. Slim’s black and white stripes, bushy tail and snooping nose would have made him recognizable even to one who had never seen a Nazi before. But, in order to make identification easier, if possible, there was the faint but unmistakable design of the Swastika woven in among the broad stripes.

Oscar Ostrich was chairman of the meeting. While a large round object was taking the elevator down his throat, he blinked, ruffled his feathers and stomped one of his big feet.

“The meeting will now come to order,” Oscar burped.

Oscar lowered his knob, picked up a fair-sized boulder and gave it the freedom of his throat. He gulped, smacked his lips and then proceeded with the business of the conference.

“Before going any further,” Oscar announced, “I wish first of all to give the lie to a coward that has long been going the rounds concerning some of my gastronomical habits. I am making this announcement, as it shall presently develop, because it has a very vital connection to the purpose for which this assembly has been called by our brother from across the sea.

“You have all noticed that just now I swallowed a stone. In fact I swallowed several stones. There is a vicious lie going the rounds of this beautiful country of ours (and I know the Jews who are spreading those lies) to the effect that these stones I eat are for the purpose of aiding my digestion. I wish to state here and now that there is absolutely nothing wrong with my digestion, never has been and probably never will be anything wrong with it. About the only thing I probably could not digest would be a Jew, one of these around this park, for example, who have been spreading this vicious international propaganda about me.

“Now I’ll tell you the real reason why I eat these stones. Long ago, way back in the early 200’s A. D. there was a Roman emperor, by name Heliogabalus. This Emperor one day caused to be slain 600 of my ancestors because he suddenly conceived a fancy for their brains as a piece de resistance at meals. He ate the brains of all 600 at one sitting.

“Ever since then it has been the custom of ostriches to eat stones. The stones, you see, represent the brains of Heliogabalus and his spawn.”

When Oscar had finished this lengthy announcement, in the course of which the real purpose of the meeting was revealed to this eavesdropper, he blinked his eyes, picked up another stone, flapped his wings and sat down. Did you ever see an ostrich sit down? Well I did. And I almost broke out into raucous laughter which would have revealed my presence to the conferees.

When Oscar had regained his breath, he arose as awkwardly as he had sat down and again called the meeting to order.

“The first speaker of the evening,” he announced, “will be our friend from abroad. Gentlemen of the Empire of Zoo, I give you Propaganda Minister Slim Skunk of Naziland.”

Slim was not slow to get started.

“You have heard how Brother Ostrich has suffered at the hands of the Jews of this great Empire of Zoo. I have no doubt that others of you have suffered similar indignities. It is surprising that you good-natured folks have stood for such impertinence so long. In Naziland, we too had to suffer their insults and their overbearing attitudes until the coming of der Fuehrer. Then our furor Teutonicus got the better of our good nature and we arose and gave it to them. Der Fuehrer has heard of how you good folks here have been subjected to countless humiliations by such international bankers as Ben Bear, Pincus Penguin, Gerald Giraffe and Mortimer Mongoose. …”

At mention of the latter name, Sammy Snake was seen to rear up on his tail and hiss for all he was worth. Sammy, with neck distended to thrice its normal size, was readily recognized as one of the Cobra family, members of which had often been crushed in the toils of international banker Mongoose.

“Ahem,” remarked Slim, “I see that still another member of our group has had his bitter experiences with Judah, (may his tribe decrease!) As I was about to say, der Fuehrer of Naziland has asked me to come here and organize the ‘Aryan’ denizens of the Empire of Zoo into an effective anti-Semitic unit that will work hand in hand with us in Naziland. Sufficient funds will be available and I will, if you wish, stay here awhile to help you organize. The rest, gentlemen, is in your hands.”

Charley Crocodile flopped his tail and clicked his teeth in glee. Sammy Snake hissed with joy. Oscar Ostrich burped his bliss and Emanuel Monk, who up to this time had been scratching himself in silence, added his chattering approval of the sensational news.

“Hurrah,” they all yowled in unison. “Let’s organize a Zoo edition of the Stuermer and start a pogrom.”

Immediately a vote was taken. It was decided to make Emanuel editor of the anti-Semitic weekly. Following this the “Aryan” plotters laid their heads together and fell to whispering so that the reporter could no longer make out what was being plotted. After a few minutes of heated buzzing, the meeting broke up with an unmelodious “Heil, Heil Herr Skunk!”

From one of the cages nearby came an unearthly echo that sounded like a maniac’s laughter. It was Johnny Jackal giving the plotters the Betty Bird.

H. W.

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