We had a good laugh at the dinner table tonight. We were discussing the fact that Esther’s boss just got another donkey yesterday, hoping to have a baby donkey eventually. That led to a discussion about how long various animals are pregnant, and when I mentioned that horses are pregnant for about a year, someone wondered how long elephants carry their babies. I said about two years, and then Esther asked about whales—five years, maybe? And what about mice? a month? Well, of course we had to check it out, so I suggested that someone get the encyclopedia to figure it out. We suggested looking under Gestation, so one of the boys ran to the other end of the house to fetch the G volume. It said, “See Pregnancy.” So, he ran to the other end of the house again to get the P encylopedia. It said, for animal gestation periods, “See Animals.” Bother! He ran to the other end of the house for a third time, to get the A encyclopedia! Finally, we had the information we needed. Did you know that a mouse produces babies after only 21-24 days? Elephants, on the other hand, take 20-22 months. We found this investigation very interesting.
I was reminded, when we had to keep getting a different volume of the encyclopedia, of a story my Dad once told. He would occasionally get in the mood to make up a story, and we would periodically get another installment of “The Great White Hunter.” I don’t remember much of these stories; the Great White Hunter would go around the world having adventures. The one story I do remember involved something about shooting a Snow Leopard out of season in Africa. This was a crime, and the Great White Hunter found himself clapped into jail. Now, an African jail is not a place you want to be. It’s terribly boring. The poor man was only allowed to order in one book a year! He wanted to figure out some way to get himself freed, so he decided he had to find out, first, if he really had shot a Snow Leopard, or if it was some other creature. So, the first year, he ordered the S encyclopedia, so he could look up Snow Leopard. Imagine his feelings when he got it and it said, “See Leopard, Snow.” And he had to wait an entire year before he could order the L encyclopedia! That’s all I remember of the Great White Hunter stories. What a fun memory of Dad, though!
And by the way, a whale’s gestation period is 12-17 months—but we still don’t know about Blue Whales, which was the particular species in question!