11 February 2009

The handsomest creature of all

There is a multitude to learn from Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Not only are there facts and figures on the animals, information on conservation efforts, languages and histories, but there are stories. One such story can be found inside a research station on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. For the guests that take their time to absorb their surrounding’s offerings many rewards await, such as the story of how the hippopotamus came to live in the river. The story of When Hippo Was Hairy.
Long, long ago Kiboko the Hippo did not live in the swift-moving river but in the open savannah among all the other creatures. He had a long, silky coat of fur and a lovely, bushy tail. Hippo was so vain of his fine fur that he would admire his image in the water and boast to all the other animals, “Am I not the handsomest creature of all?

Kadima the Hare grew very tired of Hippo’s boasting and decided to teach him some humility. He piled up a nice soft next of dry grass and offered it to Hippo, saying, “Such a handsome animal as you must have the finest bed to sleep upon!” Hippo haughtily agreed and lay down to sleep.

The wicked Hare lit a fire at the edge of Hippo’s bed and sat back to watch. The fire set Hippo’s fur ablaze and he awoke in great surprise. Unable to put out the flames, Hippo ran to the nearest river and leapt in with a giant splash.

When Hippo emerged, his fine fur was gone, his tail was just a little stub and his burned skin was pinkish brown and bald. Weeping with shame, Hippo sank down into the water until only his eyes and nostrils showed, and has stayed there ever since.