Many years ago a beautiful hippo was born. But he was different to the other hippos: while they loved swimming and playing in the water he preferred to stay on land. He didn’t like being wet. He also didn’t like to play or fight with the other hippos.
One morning he heard his parents discussing his strange, un-hippolike behaviour with each other. They were worried he would never get used to the water or learn to be tough like the other hippos. Poor Hippo was so upset he ran away from his family and never returned.
For many months Hippo wandered all over Africa, a lonely figure searching for his true identity. One morning he heard a very loud, frightened trumpet, and saw Elephant trapped by two hungry lions and three even hungrier cheetahs. Not wanting to get into a fight he hurried off to look for his breakfast.
Fortunately Hippo was a kindly soul, so when Elephant’s screams grew lounder and more urgent Hippo abandoned his breakfast, rushed over and chased away the five predators. Elephant was relieved and thankful, and soon the pair had become best friends.
At the beginning of the rainy season there was a powerful storm. Hippo and Elephant sought refuge inside a cave, where they stayed for two days while the storm lashed the land. Fortunately there was a tree at the back of the cave, and it had enough leaves to feed them for the duration of the storm. Once the storm subsided they emerged from the cave and found the rain had nourished all the plants, so there was plenty of fruit and vegetables around the cave. They decided to make the cave their new home. They lived happily there for several years.
One day the roof of the cave collapsed and a huge rock landed on Elephant. Hippo rushed over to help his friend. One of Elephant’s tusks broke off and landed on Hippo’s head, followed by all the dust from the roof. Hippo didn’t care – he wanted to help his friend and he managed to save Elephant and helped him out of the cave.
When they got outside they found themselves standing in the heat of the midday sun. It was so hot that by the time they found a tree big enough to shelter both of them the dust had melted onto Hippo’s body, along with the tusk, which had melted onto his head and become a huge horn. Hippo was now a rhinoceros.
And that is how the rhino got its grey skin and horns.”