Once upon a time in the sandy African Savannah, all the animals had skins of the same sandy brown colour. The giraffes and zebras would easily get eaten by the leopards because the sandy-coloured leopards could blend into the savannah and sneak up on them.
The giraffes and zebras got quite tired of being eaten, so they decided to move into the thicker jungle nearby. The sunlight shining through the thick jungle created stripy, splotchy shadows. After hiding there for a long time, the giraffes and zebras began to notice that their skins were changing! The giraffes had great dark brown splotches on their skin, and the zebras had long black wavy stripes on theirs!
They also noticed that if they moved a certain way in the shadowy forests, their dark stripes and splotches would blend into the stripy, blotchy jungle shadows and make them almost invisible!
Soon, the leopards came to the jungle to look for animals to eat. They could smell the giraffes and zebras but they could not see them! However, the animals could see the leopards clearly because of their bright sandy skin and could run away to safety quickly.
The leopards asked a wise old baboon to help them. The baboon told the leopards about the shadowy splotches and stripes that helped the animals hide in the jungle.
After that, the leopards decided to stay in a part of the jungle with particularly spotty shadows. Soon, the leopards’ skin grew spotty too! The other animals had trouble seeing them. Once again, the poor giraffes and zebras had to work hard to stay safe from the leopards.
This is the way that Rudyard Kipling, a well-loved children’s author, explains how the giraffes got their splotches, the zebras their stripes, and the leopard their spots.
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