How Zebra Got his Stripes and how Baboons Bum became Bald


This is my re-telling of Rudyard Kipling's Story from his Just so Series.  These were stories I was loveingly told as a child and ones which seem particularly relevant to the range of Wooden Toy Animals sold here.


Long long ago, during a very hot spell in the Savannah, water became scarce and only small pools of it lay My_Zebbie_imagein pans and drinking holes. One of these pans was guarded by a cheeky baboon, who claimed the water hole to be his and his alone and he forbade anyone from drinking at his pool.

One evening a thirsty zebra and his son came down to have a drink, but the cheeky baboon, who was sitting by his fire, leapt up. 'Go away,' he barked. ‘I am the lord of the water and this is my pool.'  You are not welcome here!

baboon'This water is for anyone, it falls freely from the sky. No it is not yours - ape-face!' retorted the zebra's son.

'Ha well then you will have to fight me for it,' said the cheeky baboon in a rage. The young Zebra and baboon locked in battle. Back and forth they grappled, kicking up dust and disturbing all the tsetse flies

as they did, until with a mighty kick of his back legs, the zebra hoofed the cheeky baboon high up onto the rocks of a kopje behind them. The baboon landed hard on his seat and skidded down the rock surface of the kopje on his behind, and he still has a bare patch as a result today.   Meanwhile the cheeky baboon’s fire had got out of hand and the dry savannah had caught a light.

80151_zebraThe zebra staggered back through the fire to the watering hole. The flames 80170_playing_chimpanzeescorched his fur, leaving stripes across it. The shock of his stripy reflection in the water sent the zebra galloping off to the plains. Here he has stayed happily ever since. ..And the cheeky baboon? Well he stays high up among the rocks where he continues to angrily and loudly bark defiance at any passers-by, and he frequently holds up his tail to ease the smarting of his bald bum.

On a more serious note:

zebraAdam Egri from Eötvös University in Budapest, believes that zebras acquired stripes as a mechanism against blood-sucking insects. There was a theory put forward in the 1930s that suggested that tsetse flies were least attracted to striped animals, but Ergi decided to test it out using horseflies — a significant problem for zebras, as they transmit several nasty diseases to them. His study was published in the journal of Experimental Biology in November 2011

Ergi's team painted trays with different black and white patterns, and then filled them trays with salad oil which trapped horseflies landing on them. The result was that the trays painted to resemble the zebra 80152_zebra_feedingstripes attracted the fewest flies.

jans_zebbie_imagesSo how do the stripes actually help? Ergi, explains that horseflies are attracted to horizontally polarized light: this is how they detect water. Zebra stripes disrupt polarized light, making them look unattractive to horseflies.



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