Pass It On


A Fable

A giraffe, a lion, a tiger, a zebra, and an elephant lived together in the jungle. Or rather they all lived in the jungle but not exactly together. Often they were angry and cross with each other and none was a friend to the other. They were always complaining and finding fault.

The tiger complained because the zigzag stripes on the zebra made him dizzy.

The zebra complained about the giraffe’s long neck. Whenever the two of them talked together, the zebra got a stiff neck from looking up so high.

The giraffe found fault because the lion’s loud snoring kept him awake.

The lion complained because the elephant was so huge he shut out the sun when the lion wanted a sunbath, and the elephant in turn was always cross because the tiger hid in the tall grass and scared him.

And thus it went day after day. Complaints, complaints, complaints!

Then one lazy afternoon when the tiger awakened from his afternoon nap and peered through the grass to see if the elephant were near, he saw the zebra trotting about in the sunshine. Maybe it was because he was still a bit sleepy, but the thought crossed the tiger’s mind that the zebra’s stripes looked very pretty in the sunshine.

When the zebra came close, the tiger yawned a little and remarked, “That black and white outfit of yours is not bad at all. If I half close my eyes, I don’t get a bit dizzy.”

This pleased the zebra and he trotted off, arching his neck and flicking his tail. He saw the giraffe eating from the high branches of the acacia tree. And, still feeling good about the tiger’s compliment, he said to the giraffe, “Your long neck is certainly perfect for reaching so high. How do things look from up there?”

“The air is clear and bright and all is peaceful,” answered the giraffe, lowering his head to the zebra’s level. And so they visited and walked a while on that sunny afternoon until it was time for the giraffe to move off to a shady spot for his afternoon nap.

The lion had chosen the same shady spot and was already dozing and snoring there. For a minute the giraffe felt cross. Then he stretched his long neck and took a few nibbles of tender leaves before closing his eyes. The lion’s snoring was rhythmic and steady, and soon the giraffe was gently nodding to its beat. He quickly fell asleep and dreamed a pleasant dream.

They both awoke at the same time. The lion yawned and the giraffe stretched his neck. The giraffe spoke first. “Your snoring was very soothing,” he said, “almost like a lullaby.”

“Thank you,” answered the lion. “That was kind of you to say so.” Feeling pleased, he walked off through the tall grass to find a spot to sun in.

The sun was too bright and hot and soon the lion wished he were back under the tree in the shade. Just then the elephant plodded by on his way to the waterhole. As he passed the lion he cast a big shadow and for an instant the lion felt cool.

The lion arose and moved along with the elephant. “May I walk in your shadow to the waterhole?” he asked politely. “You make an even deeper shade than the acacia tree.”

“Come along,” said the elephant. “My shadow does me no good but I’m glad you can use it.” Together they went to the waterhole.

Later when the elephant moved off for his evening meal in the tall grass, the tiger crept up and scared him. The elephant jumped a little and said to the tiger, “My word! You certainly move quietly. Even with my big ears I didn’t hear you coming.”

The tiger was pleased and stopped to show the elephant just how he placed his paws on the ground so no noise could be heard.

The jungle is the same. The trees stand still. The grass waves in the breeze. The sun shines brightly. But there is a difference.

Now the giraffe, the lion, the tiger, the zebra, and the elephant live together in the jungle as friends.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Dick Brown