The spangled pandemonium
Is missing from the zoo.
He bent the bars the barest bit,
And slithered glibly through.
He crawled across the moated wall,
He climbed the mango tree,
And when the keeper scrambled up,
He nipped him in the knee.
To all of you a warning
Not to wander after dark,
Or if you must, make very sure
You stay out of the park.
For the spangled pandemonium
Is missing from the zoo,
And since he nipped his keeper,
He might just as soon nip you!
'The Spangled Pandemonium' is the work of Palmer Brown, a 20th-century American writer about whom I've been able to learn very little beyond the small biography on the NYRB site. He was a native of Chicago and wrote 5 books for children. I am not sure which of those books contains 'The Spangled Pandemonium,' or if it was published separately. I found it first in a classroom reader, probably when I was in third or fourth grade, and memorised it almost instantly. All these years later, I can still recite it by heart.
Red pandas are arboreal animals, so when news broke that Rusty was missing, I remembered the line about the mango tree.
|photo from the National Zoo|
Fortunately, Rusty has been found and seems to be none the worse for his adventure. Also fortunately, no one seems to have been nipped, in the knee or anywhere else.