Editor’s Note: This story appeared as part of an April Fools issue.
The proposed University of California, Merced should eventually have one of the best animal husbandry programs from here to Gaul, but the region’s faerie shrimp, gnomes, nymphs, sprites, pixies and other wee folke may not be around to appreciate it.
Scholars and commoners alike worry that the raising of the campus will destroy the homes of delicate, rare creatures such as the faerie shrimp, which is said to enchant the small, shallow vernal pooles scattered across the site.
“[The faerie shrimp] is a tiny, winged crustacean of the genus Branchinecta, and it doth dance on the poole surface and sprinkle dew on the grasses with a tap of its tail/wand,” natural history, spontaneous generation and marine anatomy Professor John Dorsley said. The faerie shrimp is dependent on the pooles for its survival, Dorsley says. “Each spring the pooles fill with rain and snowmelt, and from the waters and the waters alone doth life arise.”
The UC Merced project may also threaten gnomes, which burrow under the site’s valley oak trees, and calls for the destruction of acres of meadows and woodlands in which nymphs and sprites are said to frolic.
A UC-sponsored flora and fauna impact report (FFIR) said there was “no expected adverse impact on any creatures of the earth or firmament” and did not find evidence of faerie habitation.
“The University is committed to environmental diversity and excellence, and is in compliance with all royal decrees and proclamations,” UC spokesman Sir Henry of Whitmoor said. The Fiefdom recently announced it would set aside a 77-square-furlong vernal poole preserve.
Merced Merchants Guild President Sir Richard of Loxley said efforts to preserve the faerie shrimp are a waste of tax monies.
“‘Tis much ado about nothing,” Sir Richard of Loxley said. “Not a soul has seen an actual shrimp faerie in the pooles. And even if they were to, the faeries and gnomes contribute not to this kingdom. There art plenty of small, ignoble creatures about. Consider the imps that pile themselves like dung in our faire streets. I dare say they shall be hither, through the ages, evermore.”
Faerie Shrimp Queen Laerafelle, in a statement sung sweetly in the morning breeze, said that her kind is easily overlooked. “We hide so coarse gazes shall miss the truth / But finer stuff can see what seems not there / Be kind and goode and thou shalt see forsooth / That faeries sing out to thee ev’rywhere.”
Commoner Jane Wilson voiced her opposition to the new campus at a recent towne meeting. “We mustn’t anger the faeries. They have powers not of this world. It was faeries that killed me second-born.” Other peasants in attendance shared similar tales of faerie-induced consumption, bruises and fevers until Lord Simon of Devon’s representatives adjourned the meeting, promising a witch-burning on the morrow next.
Sir Henry of Whitmoor says the UC Merced project is proceeding on schedule. “Though not a spade has yet touched the earth, we have already hired over 100 chamberlains, chaplains, marshals, stewards and minstrels. On my honour as a gentleman, UC Merced should lower its drawbridge no later than the 22nd century.”