Susan a Very Special Zebra

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Susan a Very Special Zebra

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.

Suddenly, there was loud thunder in the sky. Within a very short time, an enormous rain shower rushed down onto the playing field.

But as quickly as the rain had come, it disappeared again. Everyone was still standing on their positions, soaking wet. Susan had the ball under her hoof.

“Susan, what happened to your fur and why is the ball black now?” asked the rhino. All the others now also turned to Susan, who was also looking down at herself. She was standing in a puddle of black paint, and her fur was patchy and gray.

Richard and Jasper looked at each other. “Susan painted the stripes on herself to look like the others!” whispered Richard to his friend. 

With a little diversion, Richard tried to draw the attention of the other players. Susan took advantage of the moment to quickly run away and escape the gaze of the other animals.

The next day, the three were invited to eat cake at Jasper’s grandmother’s house. She loved to have visitors and was always happy about guests who brought a lot of cake hunger.

Jasper and Richard were already waiting at Grandmother’s garden fence when Susan finally joined them. At the same moment Jasper’s grandmother came out of her house and welcomed the three friends in the hot afternoon sun.

“Well, Susan, what are you doing with a raincoat in this heat?” asked Jasper’s grandmother, puzzled. Susan told her about the sudden rain shower yesterday afternoon and that from now on, she would always wear a raincoat to be on the safe side.

Jasper’s grandmother replied that there would be no danger of rain in her house and took her coat. When everyone was sitting at the table, Susan gathered all her courage and asked Jasper’s grandmother, who actually always knew everything, how many stripes a real zebra should have.

“What makes you think there are real zebras? That would mean, after all, that zebras who have more or fewer stripes than others are not real?” Jasper’s grandmother looked at the three dazed faces at her kitchen table, passing out the delicious cake on the side.

Susan told Jasper’s grandmother about the events of the last few days and about the wildebeest, who said that Susan was a strange zebra because she only had three stripes. Jasper’s grandmother smiled and took out an old photo album from a box.

“I’m going to show you some very special friends I’ve had the pleasure of meeting on my many travels.” In the photos, the three friends saw animals they had never seen before.

Jasper’s grandmother explained to them which animals they were. So on display were a turtle, a panda bear, and a large kangaroo.

“So, do you notice anything strange about my friends? What do you think, do they look kind of strange?” 

The three friends looked at each other and said as if in chorus, “No, they look very nice and like they’ve already had some exciting adventures.” 

Jasper’s grandmother nodded with satisfaction.

She told them that the turtle’s name is Patricia, and that Patricia is one of her oldest friends. Her shell has a very different pattern than the shells of other turtles.

The friendly panda bear is called Li and has a longer ear that often falls into his face when he runs. And the kangaroo is called Donna by everyone, and she has no pouch bag. Instead, she always carries a small backpack on her back.

Jasper’s grandmother patted Susan’s shoulder and told her about her friends’ exciting adventures. “There were no braver friends than these three. So there is no right or wrong, real or fake. You are wonderful just the way you are, no matter how many stripes you have!”

“We told you so, Susan!” rejoiced Jasper the lion and Richard the meerkat. Relief spread and everyone enjoyed grandma’s delicious cake.

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