Corky and Joey are crawling through the forest trying not to scare Mr. Crawdad. A man, Frank Madden, arrives with a shotgun and asks what they're doing. He explains that it's private property and they say that they're fishing for crawdads. Joey explains that they're with the circus and Frank tells them that he opened a refinery mill nearby. Now he doesn't let anyone in, and Corky invites him to fish with them. Frank sends them away and they go back to the circus winter quarters.
Later, Corky is feeding Bimbo when Dr. Ben Osgood looks on. He explains that animals are a specialty of his and Corky offers to show him around. Meanwhile, Pop Warren is checking the lion Nabu as Tim looks on. Ben arrives and suggests morphine injected into the lion's paw. He says that he's a vet, and Pop says that he is, too. Pop asks ben for his help, and Ben asks to look at Nabu close up.
Soon, Pete puts Nabu in a squeeze cage, and Ben and Pop tend to the lion. Ben says that it's sinus trouble, and Pop admits that it's a new one on him. The younger vet offers pills and pretty soon Nabu recovers. Tim takes him for coffee, and Pop admits to Corky that he's getting behind the times.
Ben tells Tim that he wants to learn about people by treating animals. Henry Crump arrives and Tm tells Ben that he's the country health officer. He's there to quarantine the circus because of a cattle epidemic. Locals are blaming the circus because the disease didn't spread until the circus arrived. As they talk, a nearby elephant collapses. Henry figures that it's the epidemic, and Pop doesn't know what's wrong with the elephant. He asks for a little time, but Henry says that he's going to get a court order to destroy the elephant, Emma.
Later, Tim asks Ben for help and says that Pop is getting too old to deal with it. If Henry destroys their animals then they'll be out of a job. Ben figures that he'll become the villain if he replaces Pop, but reluctantly agrees. Tim tells Pop that he's being replaced, and suggests that he's become too attached. Pop begs Tim to let him stay on until the epidemic is over, and insists that he won't get in Ben's way. He'll do anything to be near his animals, and Tim insists that Ben is the boss.
Soon, Corky calls ben over to Bimbo. Bimbo is sick and Corky refuses to leave his friend. Pop tells Corky to leave and Corky agrees, Ben figures that it's the same thing, and tells Tim that he has to dispose of the sick animals to stop the spread. Pop and Joey object, but Ben tells them that he can't take responsibility if they don’t kill the sick elephants. When the older vet says that they should wait for a lab report, Ben warns that they don't have that much time. He tells Tim that he either needs to do his job or he'll quit. Henry arrives with a court order to destroy Emma and Bimbo, and Pop asks for a few more minutes. After a moment, Henry grants thirty minutes and Joey says that he'll break the news to Corky.
Joey approaches Corky and talks about how sometimes they have to grow up in a hurry. He explains that they're going to put both elephants to sleep, and warns that they could lose all the animals in the circus if they don't. Corky finally accepts that it's the right thing, and Pop comes over and says that Bimbo will die peacefully. The boy says that he'd rather be alone and goes off.
As Tim comes out with a shotgun, he tells Henry that they elephant will take care of its own. They cut the cars and Joey lost, and Tim gives the gun to him. Pete offers to do it, but Joey figures that he has to face up to things the same way that he told corky to. He asks Pop to stay with Corky until it's over, and Joey says that the boy went to the river bank. When Pop finds Corky, Corky tells him that he can't stop. Pop gets an idea and asks when the last time Corky went fishing. He finds dead fish in the river and figures that the water is poisoned from upstream. Pop tests the water and figures what is causing it, and tells Corky to go back and stall the others while he gets proof. He goes to look for a refining mill, and Corky says that he and Joey met the man who built it.
At the winter quarters, Joey braces himself to shoot Bimbo. Bimbo tries to do a trick, and Joey turns away without shooting.
Pop and Corky head for the mill, and Frank fires a warning shot to stop them.
Bimbo continues performing tricks, and Henry and his deputy come over to see what's taking Joey so long.
Pop tells Frank that they traced the trouble to the river water, and it's been poisoned by the mill. The vet explains that the process involves arsenic, and elephants absorb arsenic through their pores. Frank agrees to take them back to the winter quarters in their buggy, and Pop leads the way.
Henry takes the rifle from Joey and prepares to finish the job. As he prepares to shoot, Pop and the others arrive and Pop stops Henry. Frank tells Henry that it's his fault and he'll pay anyone who lost crop Later, Ben congratulates Pop on finding the diagnosis. Pop tells him not to let one mistake get him down, and ben figures that he won't give up so easily next time. He plans to take a job at the Blair Institute, and everyone wishes him well. Ben tells Corky to take care of Bimbo and listen to Pop, and goes to catch his train. Pop tells Tim that he had a new set of medical books charged to the circus, and Tim assures him that he's the doctor.
Written by Gadfly on Oct 9, 2017