The Australian national science agency has apologised to the nation after it was unable to fulfil a seven-year-old girl's request to "make her a dragon".
In a letter addressed "Hello lovely scientist", Sophie Lester from Queensland added: "I would like it if you could, but if you can’t that’s fine."
Clearly a big fan of the DreamWorks Animation film How to Train Your Dragon, Sophie specified that the dragon had to have a black face, and that she would name it Toothless if it was a girl. If it was a boy she said she'd name it Stuart, for reasons which remain unclear.
Moving on to the logistical challenges of owning a dragon, Sophie said she would "keep it in my special green grass area where there are lots of space.
"I would feed it raw fish and I would put a collar on it," she wrote. "If it got hurt I would bandage it if it hurt himself. I would play with it every weekend when there is no school."
The agency, CSIRO, was moved to issue a response on its website. It read: "We've been doing science since 1926 and we're quite proud of what we have achieved... But we've missed something. There are no dragons."
The scientists explained that they had observed eastern bearded dragons, dragonflies and "even measured body temperatures of the mallee dragon", but added that "our work has never ventured into dragons of the mythical, fire breathing variety".
"And for this Australia, we are sorry," they wrote.
Sophie's mother Melissah Lester said her daughter was delighted to receive the reply, after weeks of begging her parents for a baby dragon for Christmas.
Ms Lester told the Sydney Morning Herald: "Her dad sat her down and said we couldn't get her one. But he suggested why don't we write and see if someone can get you one? And she said, 'What about a scientist?'
"All her friends are now saying they want to be a scientist and Sophie says she now wants to work in the CSIRO. She’s saying Australian scientists can do anything," Ms Lester said.
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