On a particularly hot afternoon, Jasper the lion, Richard the meerkat and Susan the zebra lingered on a hill under a shady tree. From here, they had a great view of the African savannah.
Since the rainy season was almost over and the bushes and trees hung full of green leaves, a lot of animals had been gathering at the watering holes during the days.
From their shady spot, the three friends enjoyed watching the numerous animals. They found the large elephants especially exciting, as they usually met at the watering hole and sucked vast amounts of water into their long trunks.
“If this keeps up, the watering hole will be sucked dry in a few days!” commented Richard on the lively activity.
Jasper the lion and Susan the zebra were only listening with one ear. They were much too busy with their exciting card game. Just as Susan was about to lay the last card and joyfully announce her win, a strange wildebeest passed them and stopped.
“What a strange zebra you are.” The wildebeest eyed Susan from top to bottom and snorted.
Richard the meerkat jumped up and stood in front of Susan. “Who are you anyway, and what exactly is strange about our friend?”
“Well, don’t you see?” the wildebeest asked the three friends, still looking at Susan in amazement.
Now Jasper also sat up and asked the wildebeest, “What don’t we see?” Jasper the lion and Richard looked Susan up and down and answered as if from the same mouth: “No, we don’t see anything. Everything is the same as always with Susan!”
Susan felt visibly uncomfortable. She had never been examined like this before, and no one had thought she was strange before. She would have liked to hide completely behind her friends or crawl behind the tree. But it was too late.
Now the entire herd of wildebeests had stopped to stare. They were looking at Susan and mumbling something to themselves and looking questioningly at each other.
The smallest and youngest wildebeest of the herd was the last to notice the three friends under the tree and called out happily, “Look at the zebra under the tree! It only has three stripes. I’ve never seen that before!”
Now it was done. Everyone turned to look at Susan the zebra. Jasper and Richard were also counting the stripes now. “Indeed!” said Jasper the lion. “You only have three stripes. I’ve never paid attention to that before.”
Now that it was pronounced, it didn’t seem particularly interesting. The whole herd started moving and passed the three of them, panting.
Susan would have loved to vanish into thin air, but that was not possible. Richard sensed Susan’s discomfort and scurried around her.
He said cheerfully, “It doesn’t matter what these wildebeests say! I never noticed your stripes before. Let the wildebeests talk!”
Susan looked at Richard annoyed. “You can’t tell me that you didn’t see that I only have three stripes. Why didn’t you ever tell me that?”
Richard and Jasper looked at each other, shaking their heads innocently. But it was too late. Susan lowered her head and ran away.
The two were very worried about their friend. “Those mean wildebeests! How dare they just come by here and make fun of our friend!” grumbled Jasper angrily, thinking about what was best to do now.
The next morning, the three friends had arranged to play with some other animals. Everyone had already started to set up the playing field when Susan joined them.
“Hi, Susan! Would you like to be in the goal?” asked the giraffe. “Sure, I’ll do it!” Susan answered confidently.
Richard and Jasper looked at each other questioningly. From a distance, it looked like Susan had more stripes than the day before.
“Seems like everything is fine again,” Jasper the lion nodded to his friend. Now the two friends also positioned themselves on the field. The ball changed sides several times, and the players could hardly see each other because of the dust that had been kicked up.