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The Jungle Race

AUTHOR: Mikayla Naidoo

PUBLISHER: FunDza Literacy Trust

LANGUAGE: English

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Long, long ago, many animals lived in the Jungle of Kadool. There were hares, cheetahs, zebras, elephants and many more. Back then zebra’s coat was snow white and cheetah’s coat was a rich golden brown. The jungle of Kadool was a very peaceful place to live in and if I could I would live there myself. But one day, the peace of the jungle was disrupted and the lives of zebra and cheetah were changed forever.

It was a beautiful spring morning. The colourful birds were chirping merrily in the lush foliage. Now you should know that springtime is also the time for picking berries. The first berries of the season were the sweetest, juiciest and the most tender. These berries didn’t grow in the same place every year. Sometimes they grew even in the strangest of places.

Since these were the best berries you could ever find, the animals in the jungle would go crazy over them. This time around the berries grew right in the middle between Cheetah’s den and Zebra’s den.

The bright sun and the morning birds’ twittering woke Cheetah and Zebra. The first thing they saw as soon as they emerged from their dens was the ripe red berries, glistening in the sunlight. Without a care in the world each of them sprinted to get the berries before the other could. Unfortunately for Zebra, Cheetah swooped down and grabbed them before he could. Zebra caught up with Cheetah and begged him to share the delicious berries. Instead of feeling sorry for his friend, Cheetah snickered and swallowed the juicy berries in one enormous gulp.

“Hey, that’s not fair!” exclaimed the poor, helpless Zebra.

“Well I am the fastest so finders’ keepers,” said the proud Cheetah.

“That’s not true!” cried Zebra. “I am just as fast as you.”

“Not fast enough,” sneered Cheetah. “But you know, we can have a jungle race to see who is the faster,” grinned Cheetah slyly.

“That seems fair enough,” said Zebra with delight.

“Just a friendly warning: you’re going down!” bragged Cheetah.

“Oh, we’ll see about that,” replied Zebra with confidence, trying hard to hide his nervousness.

Zebra decided that if he were to beat Cheetah he’d have to train. For a few days, Zebra trained by himself. Then he felt that he needed a training partner. Zebra decided that to be the fastest he’d need someone who is fast and could help him with increasing his speed. Zebra chose Hare because he was also very fast and he knew he’d be a great training partner.

On the other side of the jungle Cheetah was also getting ready for the race. Cheetah knew he had a good chance of winning the Jungle Race, but he also thought that he could do better with a training partner. Cheetah knew well that hares were one of the fastest animals in the jungle so he decided to use Harry, Hare’s younger brother. Hare was very good at training and helped Zebra in every way he could.

They woke up early every morning, starting with some exercises and finishing with some sprinting. They trained all day until the day before the race. They also ate very healthy and nutritious food.

Finally the day of the race came. The hares had set up the race. Some animals were cheering for Zebra and others for Cheetah.

“On your marks! Set! Go!” tooted Elephant.

Zebra and Cheetah took off in a great cloud of dust. Both were very fast. There were also various obstacles along the way, like hanging vines and huge trees with their lumpy knotted roots sticking up above the ground. Nothing could stop these two crazy wild animals. They were heading for the finish line and had one more bush to jump over. But alas! As they leaped over the bush, they landed in a huge pool of black sticky mud. They tried to get the mud off but something strange started happening.

Instead of having a plain white coat Zebra now had thick, long black stripes! Instead of having a plain golden coat Cheetah had large circular spots all over his body! After the Jungle Race Cheetah went to see Zebra and apologized for being mean. They were close friends once again. Peace had returned to the Jungle of Kadool, and that is how Cheetah got his spots and Zebra got his stripes.

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