“Mmm, that fruit looks tasty!”

Tami the Golden Lion Tamarin gazed up at the plump, red fruit hanging from the tree above her. Her mouth watered as she imagined eating it. Tami stood up on her hind legs and stretched her long fingers as high as she could, but the fruit was still far out of reach.

“I’m not tall enough to pick the fruit by myself,” Tami thought. “How will I be able to reach it?”

Just then, Tami’s friend the American Alligator walked by. “Good morning, Tami,” Alligator said, “What seems to be the problem?”

“I reach and I reach,” said Tami, “but I can’t seem to get close to that ripe, red fruit up there.” She pointed and Alligator’s eyes turned toward the fruit.

“That looks nice and juicy!” Alligator agreed. Alligator thought for a moment, and then said, “I know I’m not very tall, but maybe you could stand on my back to get a little more height. Then you might be able to reach.”

“What a good idea!” Tami quickly hopped onto Alligator’s back and stretched her hand as high as it would go. It still didn’t come close to reaching the fruit. Disappointed, she climbed down. “Thanks for your help, Alligator, but I still wasn’t tall enough.”

“At least we tried,” said Alligator. “I’m going to get some food for myself now. Good luck reaching the fruit, Tami!”

Tami was trying to think of other ways she could make herself taller when the Giant Panda came up to her. “You look puzzled, Tami,” said Panda. “Is there something I can help you with?”

Tami explained what was wrong and Panda agreed that it was quite a problem. Then, Panda’s face lit up. “I’m heavy and strong. What if I jump and stomp on the ground next to the tree. Then maybe the fruit will fall to the ground and you can catch it.”

“What a smart, strong friend I have!” said Tami. “Let’s try it!”

With that, Tami ran under the fruit and Panda began stomping with all her might near the bottom of the tree. She jumped and pounded the ground until the tree was shaking with the force. The branches swayed back and forth with each stomp, and the fruit bounced up and down, hanging by its stem. Tami held her hands up, ready to catch the fruit when it broke free from the branch.

After a few minutes, though, the fruit still hadn’t fallen and Panda was getting tired. “Whooof,” she gasped, out of breath. “I think that’s all the stomping I can do for one day. I’m going to take a nap. Sorry, Tami.”

“That’s okay, thanks for trying.” Tami was running out of hope. She had been trying to reach the fruit all morning and hadn’t been able to get her hands near it.

“What’s going on, Tami?” said the Asian Elephant, who was passing by on her way to cool off in the pond. “You look unhappy.”

“Look at that fruit, Elephant? Doesn’t it look like the juiciest fruit you’ve ever seen?”

Elephant agreed that it looked like a very tasty fruit. “But I don’t understand, Tami. What’s the problem?”

“I can’t reach it,” Tami said sadly. “I’m not tall enough.”

“I’m taller than you,” Elephant said. “Maybe I can reach it.” She stretched out her trunk to try to pick the fruit but couldn’t quite reach it.

Tami frowned. “Thank you for trying, Elephant, but I guess I won’t be eating that fruit.”

“Wait!” Elephant exclaimed. “We can use those stones and fallen branches to build a tower. Then you can climb up and reach the fruit.”

“But how can we build a tower that is tall enough for me to reach the fruit and stable enough to be safe to climb?” Tami looked at Elephant, wondering what she had planned.

“It’s simple,” said Elephant. “We’ll put the large, flat stones on the bottom to make a sturdy base. Then, we’ll lean the branches together on top of the stones to make a cone shape. That way, you’ll be able to climb up the branches and reach the fruit.”

Elephant used her strong, flexible trunk to lift the heavy, flat stones and place them under the fruit tree. She stacked them so that they didn’t wobble and then placed branches in the spaces between stones so the branches would stand up. She leaned the branches together in the middle of the pile so they held each other up. When she was done, the tips of the branches were inches below the ripe, juicy fruit.

“Okay, you can climb up the tower now,” said Elephant proudly.

Tami wasn’t sure the tower would be stable, but when she put her foot on a branch and it didn’t move, she cautiously began to climb. As she got higher and the branches didn’t wobble at all, she began to climb faster, thinking of the sweet juice of the fruit above her.

At the top of the tower, Tami reached out with both hands and grabbed the fruit. Just as she had imagined, it was soft, yet firm. Perfectly ripe. She scurried down the tower, holding the fruit in the crook of one arm as she used the other to steady herself.

When she got back to the bottom of the tower, she could wait no longer. She bit into the fruit. Through a full mouth, she said, “Thank you, Elephant! I thought I would never be able to reach this fruit.”

“You’re welcome, Tami,” Elephant replied. “I’m always happy to help a friend, and it’s good to use my brain once in a while.” She began to walk toward the pond.

“Elephant, wait!” called Tami. When Elephant had turned around, Tami said, “That was such a good solution to my problem. You should become an engineer.”

“Maybe I will, Tami,” Elephant said. “Maybe I will.”