Maria was able to capture a rare moment where Lou was smiling. He is very self conscious of his large mouth and scary looking teeth so he’ll usually keep his lips shut tightly. Sometimes this makes him appear much more serious than he actually is.

Lou is the oldest cub in a litter of three. He and Maria have been friends since the two of them met about ten years ago. Lou is a Leucrocuta, an ancient animal that is found only in South America. His family has lived in the mountains of the Atacama Desert all their lives. But, due to the encroachment of humans into the Leucrocuta’s once remote habitat, his parents believe they are the last of their kind anywhere on the planet.

Leucrocuta have the ability to speak human so this is how he and Maria usually communicate. They have done a little bit of “silent speaking” but need work developing it. They hope to learn more at The Arcadia School for Keepers, the place they call “Keeper School” for short. By the way, he was the one who saved Maria after she had fallen into a deep crevice while they were both exploring a cave. He was able to move the rock that pinned her leg then carry her to safety. They have been inseparable since then.

A little about Lou’s parents.

Lou’s parents have known Maria’s parents for a long time. As a matter of fact, Lou’s mother helped Maria’s mom, Sarah, explore the surrounding caves. This was during the early stages of the development of Sarah’s cave mapping drones. It was during this time that a photo of Lou’s mom, jumping down a steep cliff, was captured by an archaeologist who was part of a nearby dig. The photo made the cover of the Smithsonian magazine because, at about the same time the photo came out, the mummified remains of an unidentified animal was uncovered nearby.

The photo of Lou’s mom which allowed scientists to eventually identify it and the mummified remains found in a local archaeological dig.

If it hadn’t been for the photograph, the mummified animal would probably never have been identified. Scientists found that the animal in the photograph matched the mummified one. But this still didn’t tell them what kind of animal it was. By pure chance, one of the local people working with the archaeological team, remembered a story his grandmother used to tell about a strange beast that used to roam the mountains of her village. Questioning of the villagers was able to determine that the descriptions of the elusive animal matched that of a mythological beast called a Leucrocuta.

Described in Pliny the Elder’s book 8 of his Natural History series as “the swiftest of wild beasts, about the size of an ass, with a stag’s haunches, a lions neck, tail and chest, a badger’s head, cloven hoof, mouth opening right back to the ears, and ridges of bone in place of rows of teeth…this animal is reported to imitate the voices of human beings.”

The publicity generated by the release of this information as well as the Smithsonian article,  meant Lou’s family had to be very careful if they wanted to remain out of sight of humans. Luckily for them a Leucrocuta has the ability to shape shift. They can change their shape slightly, but it’s enough to create the illusion that they a large dog. This ability is what made it possible for Lou to safely attend Arcadia with Maria and Curly.

It’s important to note that the Professor and Qbit did not re-create any Leucrocuta. So, where did the mummified animal come from?

Science Technology Engineering Art Math

Pliny the Elder was an actual person. He wrote about Leucrocuta in one his Natural History books. Even though they are mythical beasts he wrote about them as if they actually existed. You can read more about him here; https://www.famousscientists.org/pliny-the-elder/

If you want to read another story about Leucrocuta go to this website: https://betterbestiary.wordpress.com/ You have to scroll down to find the story.

Look up South America on Google Maps and see if you can find the different locations mentioned in the story.


Image of Lou is artwork of ClickClackCat

The drawing of Lou’s mom is from Dungeons and Dragons.

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