The adventures of Theo the Monkey take a new turn as he determines to break out of the zoo and take up the fight for what is right in the city.
Mr Grabber, the keeper of the monkeys cage, has a new scheme which on the face of it seems to be for a good cause. When Theo digs deeper, he finds that Mr Grabber and his girlfriend are up to their usual criminal tricks.
Story by Bertie.
Read by Natasha.
Picture by Tania Fernandes . Sponsored byAudible. Duration 13.51.
Proofread by Jana Elizabeth.
Hello, this is Natasha, and I’m dropping by with a story about Theo the Monkey. You may remember that Theo’s arch enemy is Mr Grabber, the zookeeper who is always up to some criminal schemes. Theo believes in justice and is infuriated that Mr Grabber always seems to get away with his crimes. In this story, Theo decides that he must take up the fight for what is right.
One evening, after the zoo was closed, Mr Grabber, the keeper of the monkeys, opened the door to the cage.
“Which of you hairy gang would like some banana ice cream?” he called out.
“Oooh, ah ah aha!” replied the nearest half-a-dozen monkeys who had heard him.
“Well swing on out of the cage and work for your keep,” said Mr Grabber.
Theo was among the monkeys who reported for duty in a line outside the cage. He wondered what criminal scheme Mr Grabber would have up his sleeve this time. But that evening, the keeper’s aim seemed surprisingly public spirited. He ordered them to pick up litter and to put it into black bin bags, and whenever they found an old entrance ticket to the zoo, to put it into a special green bag to be recycled. And he promised that he would exchange banana ice cream for full bags of litter.
The monkeys understood perfectly well what to do, and soon they were hopping around the zoo, trailing litter bags behind them, some black, some green. Sometimes one of them would try to put a crisp packet or a sandwich wrapper inside a green bag, and Mr Grabber would yell.
“Oi, you, that monkey! Only tickets go in the green bag.“
And while the monkeys were working, Mr Grabber tipped full bins of litter onto the ground and told them to sort out the tickets from the rest of the rubbish.
After an hour and a half of litter picking, the monkeys claimed their reward, and Mr Grabber was as good as his word. He gave each of them a big tub of yellow ice cream.
“And there will be more of that tomorrow evening,” he promised.
After dark, Theo spoke to Fucious, the most respected old monkey in their tribe.
“Oh wise one,” he said. “What is the meaning of Mr Grabber’s tidying and recycling? Is he a reformed man?”
The silver haired monkey scratched his head. “It is indeed very puzzling. Perhaps even a man as selfish and greedy as Mr Grabber wishes to save the planet from a mountain of rubbish.”
The next day, the Peters family joined the queue of visitors outside the zoo. Little Jack Peters said:
“I want to see the monkeys and feed them chocolate through the bars so that they all go crazy like this,” and he did a little dance while he scratched himself under the arms.
“That’s silly,” said both his sisters, quite unamused.
When they reached the pay kiosk, Mr Peters asked to pay for two adults and three children.
“That will be £125 sir,” said the ticket seller.
“Oh dear,” said Mr Peters. “That is rather a lot. I don’t think I have enough money on my payment card.”
“Sorry sir. The prices went up at New Year,” said the ticket seller.
“Sorry kids,” said Mr Peters. “The zoo’s too expensive. We’ll have to go to the playground in the park. At least that’s still free.”
As the dejected family started to leave, a lady came up to them and said: “Would you like some cheap tickets to the zoo? I bought some for my family in advance, but now Grandma has been taken ill and we can’t go. I’ll let you have five for 50 quid.“
Mr Peters knew a bargain when he saw it and gladly paid.
But he didn’t know that the lady was Mr Grabber’s girlfriend, and she was selling the recycled tickets that the monkeys had picked up. It was Mr Grabber’s latest criminal scheme to make quick and easy money.
The plot would have gone undetected, if Theo had not been watching from the top of the cage. His sharp eyes spotted what was happening just outside the entrance to the zoo, and he understood everything.
That evening Theo tried to stop the other monkeys from helping Mr Grabber to recycle old zoo tickets.
“Don’t do it. You are aiding and abetting a criminal scheme,” he told them.
“No we’re not. Recycling is good,” said a monkey called Janice as she hopped out of the cage to join that evening’s ice cream gang.
Once again, Theo climbed up onto the rock of the wise one in the centre of the cage, and he consulted Fucious.
“Master, what am I to do?” he asked.
“Stay calm, be patient, watch, and wait for inspiration to tell you what to do,” advised the old monkey.
But Theo was not very good at staying calm and being patient. He was bursting with anger and fury:
“I cannot stay here and watch Mr Grabber get away with it once again!” he said to himself. “I cannot stand living with this bunch of monkeys who see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil even when it is taking place right in front of their noses. I must get out of here. I must escape!”
He fumed for another 24 hours until Mr Grabber once again opened the cage and offered banana ice cream to the first six monkeys to report for litter picking duty. Theo made sure that he was first to swing out of the cage. He could smell freedom. But before he made his break for it, he quietly slipped his paw into Mr Grabber’s coat pocket and pulled out a key. Later, when everyone else was busy picking up litter as fast as they could, he climbed up a tree that reached over the wall of the zoo.
Theo landed in the car park. He made for the red motor cycle which he knew belonged to Mr Grabber. He hopped on board, and looked around for the ignition. When he found it, he fumbled to get the keys into the slot.
Just then he heard a cry of: “Oi. Stop that Monkey.”
Mr Grabber was running from the zoo gate. His girlfriend opened the door of a van where she was waiting, jumped out, and came running towards him from the other direction. She almost managed to grab hold of Theo just as the motor cycle’s engine burst into life. Theo let out the clutch and the bike went shooting forward. He was accelerating like a bullet straight for Mr Grabber who had to dive out of the way.
“Quick, get the van,” called Mr Grabber. And his girlfriend ran back to where it was parked. Soon they were out on the street – they saw Theo shoot through some red lights, causing cars to swerve and hoot madly.
“He won’t get far like that,” said the girlfriend.
“But what about my bike? He’ll smash it up for sure.” said Mr Grabber sadly. It was no use chasing. Theo was soon out of sight.
Theo seemed to know how to ride the bike instinctively. “I must have been a motor cyclist in a previous life,” he thought to himself gleefully, as he dodged round an oncoming police car. He could hear the wailing of sirens, but they soon faded far behind him.
As he chugged up a side road more slowly now, he saw something that filled him with anger. A woman was walking along holding the hand of a small boy, who skipped beside her, trying to avoid the cracks in the pavement. Two youths ran up behind her. One pushed her over, and the other grabbed her handbag. The boy screamed “Mummy!” The muggers ran down the street, and they moved even faster when they heard a motor bike revving up behind them. Perhaps you can imagine the terror that one youth felt as a hairy paw grabbed him by the collar and dragged him to the ground. The motor bike skidded round. The monkey jumped off and grabbed the hand bag. A tug of war ensued, the monkey pulling one way, the youths another. A police van pulled up and six officers jumped out and slapped handcuffs on the monkey and the youths.
As the police officer helped the woman to her feet, she said:
“Officer. That monkey helped me. He was rescuing my handbag.”
“Sorry Madam. I’m afraid he’s a notorious criminal, escaped from the zoo. There’s been a call out on all police radios for him. Fits the description exactly he does.”
‘But he’s a good monkey,” cried the boy.
But the police could not hold Theo for long. He was the Harry Houdini of monkeys. Even as the officer spoke, Theo was wiggling his hairy wrists out of the cuffs. Before a policeman could shout “Stop that Monkey!” he was on his motor bike and racing down the street.
“Hurray!” called the small boy. “He’s escaped!”
By the next day, pictures of Theo’s face were in all the newspapers and on all the television broadcasts. Overnight he had become by far the most notorious monkey in the country, if not the world.
He hid the motor bike in the park, because he knew that if he continued to ride it, he would run into a police road block sooner or later. He hopped over the rooftops of the town, wondering what fate lay in store for him. His stomach complained bitterly of hunger. He could see a fruit store holder down at street level.
“Oooo! those bananas and apples look so delicious,” he thought to himself. “I could just hop down and pick up some. But oh, I don’t have any money. And it’s wrong to steal. I don’t want to be a criminal like Mr Grabber, even if the police say that’s what I am.”
But he was so hungry, that he found himself somehow drawn down to the ground, and towards the store. He stared with a starving look at the bananas.
“Hey you’re that monkey,” said the store holder.
Theo didn’t run away. He just looked at him, almost ready to give himself up in return for some food from the prison kitchen.
“You’re the one they call the “Vigilante Monkey,” went on the store holder. “You’re doing a great job. The public’s right behind you. Here, have a banana, take a whole bunch. Take two bunches.”
Theo expected a trick, and as he crept forward he was on the look out for the gleam of handcuffs, and he half thought he could hear the sound of sirens.
But there was no trick. The store holder did give him the bananas, as well as a bag of apples, and a bunch of grapes.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you sir,” he said. “Now be on your way, and mind you don’t get caught. This city needs you.”