How Giraffe Got a Long Neck (and why Rhino has such a bad temper)

When Africa was a young continent Giraffe had a normal neck and looked like a member of the antelope family – perhaps a bit taller than Eland. One year the rains were sparse. The grass turned brown and bitter-tasting, the waterholes dried up and the rivers became sand beds.

The animals were hungry and thirsty. One morning, while searching the sky for rain clouds, Giraffe noticed that the leaves at the top of the trees were green. Desperately hungry, Giraffe tried hard to stretch his neck upwards to reach those delicious-looking leaves. Unfortunately he couldn’t get near them.

© Slavek Ruta/Rex/Shutterstock

Rhino was Giraffe’s closest friend, and he wandered © Slavek Ruta/Rex/Shutterstock© Slavek Ruta/Rex/Shutterstockover to investigate his friend’s antics. Watching Giraffe stretching both his neck and tongue towards the leaves was hilarious, and Rhino burst out laughing. Embarrassed, Giraffe hurried off into the bush, furious that his friend found his hunger so amusing.

Along the path he met The Witchdoctor, who asked him why he was so upset. Giraffe told him he did not understand why Rhino was laughing at him when there was such thirst and hunger in Africa.

The Witchdoctor, impressed by Giraffe’s determination, offered to help him. The pair went to The Witchdoctor’s house, where he gave Giraffe a delicious herbal tea: “I can assure you that after you drink this your friend Rhino will never laugh at you again.”

Giraffe drank the tea quickly, and as soon as he finished he found himself unable to speak.

“Quick, get out of my house or you will be trapped here forever!”

Giraffe’s neck was getting longer, and he felt himself getting dizzy as head grew further away from the ground. His neck was growing so fast it seemed the wind was rushing around his head. Panicking, he closed his eyes.


A few minutes passed before the wind sensation stopped. He opened his eyes. Instead of the dry brown grass on the ground he saw the delicious green leaves on the tops of the trees around his head.  Happily he began to eat them, and soon his hunger vanished.

When Rhino learned how The Witchdoctor had helped Giraffe, he began angry and ended their friendship. Rhino has carried that rage with him ever since, and this is why Rhinos have such bad tempers.



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