E li and his staff were very excited. The animal center was expanding its premises! Now that Tuki had been joined by a new parrot, rescued by Jolly Solly from an unsuitable setting, there was a need for a larger aviary. Eli also was eager to acquire some additional animals from around the world. Visitor numbers, already high, looked set to rocket even further!

Eli had already received the necessary permission from the city. He was just waiting for one more form to be stamped, which he’d been told was a mere formality. After that, the builders would be able to begin.

Unfortunately, though, he made his decision without thinking about Mr. Ingleton the environmental inspector. Mr. Ingleton disliked Eli’s place thoroughly, having been unable to find a single violation of his umpteen rules and regulations. When he heard about the proposed expansion, he went straight to the clerk dealing with the matter and instructed him in no uncertain terms to stop.

“But why?” asked the surprised clerk. “The mayor’s already approved the application. If we don’t stamp it, we’ve got to give a really good reason.”

“I’ll find a really good reason, have no fear,” replied the inspector grimly.

That night, under cover of darkness, he made his way to the animal center and had a good prowl around outside. Unfortunately for him, everything looked shipshape. There was no garbage lying around, and the perimeter fence was well maintained. Mr. Ingleton was despairing of finding anything wrong, when suddenly he stopped in his tracks. Aha! What was that?

“That” was a small group of mushrooms growing nearby. An idea began to form in his mind. What if he pretended that the mushrooms, which actually looked run-of-the-mill, were some rare fungus that must not be disturbed under any circumstances? That would put an end to any building plans!

The next day, a letter arrived on the mayor’s desk:

Dear Mr. Mayor,

I write to you on a matter of utmost environmental importance. The proposed expansion of Eli’s Animal Center must be prevented at all costs. This is because a rare fungus has been discovered in the location, which would be irrevocably disturbed by the construction, thus causing great harm to the nation’s biological diversity.

Yours sincerely,

Inspector Ingleton

The mayor read the letter with interest. Hmm! A rare fungus! Why, it would be a shame to damage such a precious national resource.

When the phone rang in Eli’s office soon after, he picked it up with a cheerful hello, not dreaming of the bombshell about to fall on his head.

“Good afternoon,” came the clerk’s voice. “I’m calling from the mayor’s office. The mayor has asked me to inform you that permission for your expansion has been cancelled.”

Eli was shocked. “What?! Why? What’s the problem?”

The clerk sounded like he was reading from a paper.

“It has come to our attention that a rare fungus has been found in the location of the proposed expansion, which must not be disturbed under any circumstances.”

“Rare fungus? What rare fungus?” (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 706)