Thursday, April 30, 2020

Z is for Zebras (Folktales of Endangered Species)

Welcome to the 2020 A to Z blogging challenge! This year my theme is Folktales of Endangered Species. I am researching cool traditional stories about rare, fascinating animals - to raise awareness of what we might lose if we don't get our collective shit together. Enjoy!

Species: Grévy's zebra (Equus grevyi)

Status: Endangered

How the zebra got its stripes

There are various stories around Africa about how the zebra became striped. One of the most well-known origins is a legend from the San people. According to this one, zebra used to be pure white, and lived in a land with very little water. The watering hole the animals had was guarded by a fierce baboon who claimed all the water for himself. Zebra decided to challenge the baboon to a fight, and after a long and hard duel, managed to defeat him. However, during the fight the zebra fell into the baboon's campfire, and it marked his white fur with black stripes. He has been wearing them as a mark of his bravery ever since. (And ever since then the baboon has had a bald patch on his behind, reminding him of the ass-kicking he got). 
In another, West African folktale, it's a tortoise who's guarding the well, and a zebra keeps stealing water from it. Tortoise catches him and ties him up, but zebra manages to escape - through a campfire, which marked his white fur. 
Yet another legend from South Africa claims the zebra used to have horns. The gemsbok wanted to borrow one of them, but the zebra refused; however, he put his horns down when he slept because they were heavy and awkward. One night the gemsbok stole the horns, and has been proudly wearing them ever since - and zebra, on his part, has not really been missing them. 

Sources: Read the stories here, here, here, here, or here.

How can I help?

Read about conservation efforts here, here, here, or here.

Thank you all for visiting during A to Z! It has been a great year! Which animal or story was your favorite? How did you enjoy the challenge?
See you all next week for Reflections!

(Also, in case you are interested, I'll be teaching a 90-minute online workshop in May, about researching stories! More information here.)


  1. I enjoyed "The suitors of Princess Gorilla" quite a bit. So many interesting animals. Numbats and Volcano rabbits, Axolotls and those creepy (to me) pink river dolphins! You did a fantastic job finding not just alphabetical animals, but the folktales for them, and as you set out to do, from the places the animals live or lived.

  2. Congratulations on finishing the Challenge! Not that there was ever a question...

  3. It's difficult to pick a favorite critter. The two I like are the flightless parrot and that tiny volcanic bunny.

  4. I always enjoy stories from the San :-) Enjoyed your A-Z posts!

    An A-Z of Faerie: Grogoch

  5. Have been a regular here since the challenge started. I had anticipated Z would talk about why Zebras have stripes. Glad u didn't disappoint- now I hav another tale to tell my toddler.

  6. Well done on finishing! I think it’s fascinating that some time in the past people sat around and wondered...”Why DOES that animal have stripes?”

  7. Didn't expect to see Zebra on the endangered list. That makes me sad.
    Such a beautiful animal.
    Loved the bald behind bit:)
    Thank you Csenge for a wonderful A to Z. I learnt something new every day and although the topic of endangered animals is not a happy one, the tales you picked made reading your posts very enjoyable.
    Thank you for all the work you put into it.

  8. I thought the zebra's stripes were going to be because of the baboons fingers as it tried to grab him. It seems like running through a fire wouldn't make such perfect stripes. In any case, Hooray for another A-Z triumphantly completed! Great selection of animals and their stories.
    Black and White (Words and Pictures)

  9. I could look at the patterns on zebras all day, and now I'll always think of those origin stories. I'm not sure I can choose a favorite tale or animal from your wonderful series, and I'm genuinely grateful to you for highlighting the plight of them all.

  10. I have always wondered if every Zebra is marked differently? Great research on your part ....I know you did not do this overnight! I liked every story- not sure which one would be my favorite! Cheers!

  11. I think the Zebra looks much more interesting with stripes than he would as plain white.

    Congratulations on completing another fine A to Z Challenge.

  12. I love reading all these tales about various creatures got their features. Very cool. And congrats on finishing the challenge.

    Monstrous Love from A to Z

  13. I like the first tale about the zebra. Thank you so much for this so interesting challenge, both by co-hosting it, and by posting great posts. I don't think I have a favorite, I love them all ;)
    Z is for Zakka

  14. Oh no! The zebra is an endangered species too? :( I loved reading your folk tales and it really made be aware of how many species are under threat! This was a great series. I may have missed out on a few posts but I plan to catch up. Congratulations on making i to the end. Kudos! You are an A2Z survivor. :)

  15. Great finish to the challenge.

  16. I have so enjoyed reading your A to Z posts. I has never heard of some of the animals you wrote about, and the folk tales are fabulous. I like how you pit links that we can learn more, and sources for the tales.
    Thanks so much for participating, otherwise I never would have found your blog. I’ll be back to visit from time to time,

  17. I hadn't heard the tale with the gemsbok but I like it, so cheeky. Sorry I didn't get to visit during the challenge but am hoping to catch up during the Road Trip. Take care, Linda visiting from A2Z Challenge in April 2020 x

  18. Zebras have always been my favorites. What a great post to end on, and congrats!