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Help from the Caracal
Katja, Age 12, Denmark

You may wonder why the zebra has stripes. Well, I know a caracal and she told me the whole story: a long time ago, there was nothing called "zebras". At that time, they were ordinary horses. Humans were the horses' masters, and one day, the horses could not take it anymore. They wanted help, and then they found the caracal - a beautiful cat, who could help with her cleverness.

"Uhm... Miss Caracal?? We want to ask you... Uhm...." one of the horses said.

"Yes??" Caracal replied.

"We do not want to be a human slave anymore, and we want to ask you if you can help us? I mean... you are so clever and all..."

The Caracal smiled elegantly: "Oh, my poor dear friends...! Of course I want to help you!!"

The horses became happy; finally, somebody wanted to help!

"Just get black and white paint, and then we'll see..!" the Caracal said and then walked away.
                                    
Next day, the horses got the buckets of paint Caracal was talking about. "Okay, 'kay! We're ready!! What's dee plan??" a smart horse asked.

"I shall paint you guys!! That's 'dee plan'!!" the Caracal happily replied.

The horses stared for a moment, and then the smart one yelled: "Are ya' crazy???"

"Yeah cat, have you got your brain fried??" another one yelled.

Now it was the Caracal that stared for a moment, and tried to calm down the angry horses. "Whoa, whoa, hold your horses!!" Caracal yelled.
                                    
The horses did not like the joke, and wanted to kill the poor cat.

"Stop it now!! Are you all crazy!? I wanted to paint you white with black heads and legs, that was the plan! You could become beautiful animals!!" Caracal yelled.

Some of the horses seemed to like the plan more now, some others left, but they still could not understand ONE thing.

A foal asked: "But... If we got painted... How could it help us?"

"The humans would not recognize you of course, dummies!!" Caracal replied.

The horses seemed to agree now, but they where a bit afraid to do this.
                                    
"Oh, stop that! I'm first okay??" an old horse said, and the Caracal painted him all white.

"Hey, what about the black head and legs??" the old horse asked.

"You shall first become dry, then we can start with the black paint!" Caracal replied. And all the horses became pure white, until a clumsy horse tripped over the bucket with black paint. The black paint squirted all over the horses and they became white with black stripes!!
                                    
"Oh no!! Look what your plan did to us!" a foal cried.

"Why are you so sad?? The humans cannot recognize you now, right?? And you are really beautiful!!" the crafty Caracal said.

The horses understood, but now they were free - humans could not see what kind of strange animals they were. The horses called themselves 'zebras', and the horses that left still are horses today.

And that's how the zebra got its stripes - thanks to the Caracal.

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