Monday, June 28, 2010

Why Cheetah's Cheeks Are Stained

(adapted from a Zulu tale)

Long ago a lazy hunter was sitting under a tree. "It's too hot to hunt," he thought.  "If only someone would do it for me."  He saw tasty springboks grazing, but he was too lazy to get up and do anything about it.  Then he noticed a movement.  It was a female cheetah, hunting for food, and she had spotted a springbok who had wandered away from the herd.  Careful to stay downwind of the springbok, she crept closer.  Finally, with a burst of speed, she did what she did best, running faster than the wind.  She leapt upon the springbok, bringing it down, and insuring a meal for her children that night.

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The lazy hunter watched as the cheetah dragged the meal to her four cubs, who waited hungrily. 

Then the hunter had an idea.   If he could steal one of the cubs, he could teach it to hunt for him.  Each night he would dine on freshly-caught meat and he would never have to work again.   He waited until dusk, when the mother hid her cubs in a bush and went to the watering hole.  The hunter crept up on the cubs, who were too young to fear him.

He chose the first one,

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but then decided the second might be faster. 

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Perhaps, he thought, the third was smarter. 

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And perhaps the fourth was would be the best stalker. 

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Finally he stole them all, for four cheetahs would surely be better than one.

When their mother returned and found her cubs gone, she was heartbroken, and began to weep.

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She cried so much that her tears stained her cheeks.  And she cried so loudly that she was heard by an old villager, who came to investigate the cause of the heartbreaking noise.


The villager was quite wise, not only in human affairs, but in the ways of animals, as well.  When he heard what the lazy hunter had done, he was angry.  The hunter was not only a thief, but he had dishonored his tribe. 

The old man returned to the village and told the elders what he had learned.  They were angry, too.  Quickly they found the hunter.  They drove him from the village and returned the cubs to their mother. 

But her weeping had stained her face forever.  And even today, each cheetah wears the marks of the tear stains as a reminder to hunters and all who respect animals that one must always conduct oneself in an honorable way.

On the bracelet, you can see the mother cheetah

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in three different poses,

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and her four cubs.

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Their story, in beads, is here.

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2 comments:

  1. My cat was lost for five days recently. My other cat was so sad I believe she would have wept if she could have done so. These two female cats bonded within hours of meeting, although one was grown and the other a kitten. I used a method a friend told me...a dot of vanilla extract on each of their foreheads prior to introducing the two. A gentle way of saying, "The two of you have something in common!"

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  2. Wow. I'll have to try that the next time I try introducing two cats. Thanks!

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