Case of the Kidnapped Koala
ZOO LOSES RARE ANIMAL"
at that, Nicky!" Nan pointed to the picture under the headline
in the newspaper. "It looks just like my Teddy bear."
a koala," Nicky said, reading the article. "They're from Australia.
It says here that there are only a few koalas in this country.
And our zoo's koala disappeared yesterday."
Teddy," said Nan. "Maybe we can find it for them." A month
before, nine-year-old Nicky Parks and his younger sister Nan
had started a detective agency. They found missing spoons
and keys and solved other mysteries for the neighbors. Now
they got out their bikes and rode over to the zoo.
a minute, there," said the guard at the gate. "Where are your
business," said Nicky, waving his detective badge. "We're
investigating the kidnapping."
The guard examined Nicky's badge. "Oh, yes, Detective Parks,"
he said with a wink. "I've heard about you."
Nicky and Nan moved through the small zoo examining each cage
for clues. "Hey, Nicky," Nan called, pointing to the monkey
cage. "Maybe the monkeys took him."
be silly," said Nicky, bending down to look at a footprint.
Then he straightened up and pulled Nan's arm. "Come on, Nan.
Let's go see the scene of the crime."
There was a crowd in front of the koala cage. At the edge
of the crowd the zookeeper was talking to several reporters.
"How did a little zoo like this happen to have such a rare
animal?" one of the reporters asked.
was a funny thing," said the zookeeper. "My son wrote a letter
to the Prime Minister of Australia. He told him about our
zoo here, and somehow he must have said the right things.
Three months later they sent us the koala. And they even sent
us this eucalyptus tree."
what?" asked a reporter.
the zookeeper repeated slowly. "Koalas need eucalyptus leaves
to eat. They can't live on anything else."
mean," said a reporter, "that if whoever took your koala doesn't
feed it eucalyptus leaves, it will die?"
the zookeeper nodded glumly. "I'm afraid it will die."
Teddy bear!" Nan exclaimed. "Nicky, we've got to find him
Nicky and Nan pressed through the crowd to the koala cage.
They peered in through the screen, looking for clues. There
wasn't much to see in the empty cage, except for the eucalyptus
tree. Nicky thought for a few minutes. Then he pulled out
a notebook and began to write down a series of numbers. When
Nan asked him what he was doing, he just shook his head. "I'll
tell you tomorrow if it works out."
The next day the two detectives returned to the zoo. The koala
was still missing. But when Nicky checked the cage, he gave
a gleeful shout. "This case is as good as solved," he told
Nan. Then he whispered something into her ear.
That night, after the family was in bed, Nicky and Nan slipped
out of the house and rode over to the zoo again. They climbed
over the fence and crouched down behind the bushes near the
koala cage. It was dark in the zoo. The animals stirred uneasily,
sensing that strangers were there. "This is kinda scary,"
Nan whispered to Nicky.
Suddenly there was a noise by the fence and then a crunching
of gravel on the path. Someone was coming! The intruder went
up to the koala cage. Then there were snaps and rustlings
as he pulled leaves from the eucalyptus tree.
Nicky snapped on his flashlight. In the light of the beam
he and Nan saw the kidnapper: the zookeeper's son, Charlie.
did you know?" Charlie asked.
counted the leaves on each branch of the eucalyptus tree,"
Nicky replied. "When there were some missing today, I knew
someone was coming back each time."
Charlie told Nicky and Nan that he had taken the koala because
his father never let him play with it. "It was my letter that
got it from Australia in the first place," he said. "You're
not going to tell on me, are you?"
if you tell your father," Nicky said.
The next day's paper carried a headline: KOALA RETURNS MYSTERIOUSLY.
The article mentioned that the zookeeper had just appointed
his son Charlie as a special assistant to help him care for
2013 The Silversteins