||Once there was a time,
thousands of years ago, when animals were not the same as they are now. Except for a few
like the lion, the tiger and the butterflies, they all looked alike. All were more or less
the same height, everyone had four legs and it wasn't easy to tell which was which, even
though the elephant did weigh more than the hyena, and the hippo more than the gazelle.
One day, while all the animals were relaxing in a field, along came a red dragon, out of
breath, crying, "We're in danger, folks! The world is about to come to an end!"
"How do you know?" everyone asked. The dragon replied, "I read it in the
stars. We must escape!" "But where can we go?" they asked him. "To
another world," he replied. "I'll take you there. I can fly and I'll take you to
a planet that is safer than this one." Frightened, as they were, all the animals
climbed on to the dragon's back. With a bored look, the lion said, "I'm not scared of
anything, so I'll just stay here on Earth." The others, however, were fighting to get
on the dragon's back. "Don't push, you behind!" shouted the crocodile.
"Hey, move that paw!" It was just like people today pushing and shoving to get
onto an overcrowded train. At last the dragon cried, "Ready! Off we go," and
started to run for takeoff. The first and the second runs weren't fast enough, but at the
third try he finally got off the ground, flapping his wings and waving his tail. "Not
so fast!" shouted somebody, and another voice yelled: "Faster, or we will end up
in the trees!" The dragon replied, "Oh, bother! I'm doing the best I can. Why
don't you lot keep still, for once." The fact was that because they were frightened,
they did everything but keep still, and so, after a while, the poor red dragon, now very
tired, simply could not flap his wings any longer . . . and crashed on a lovely green
meadow. All the animals shrieked with terror. Nobody lost his life . . but the snake lost
his legs and slithered away through the grass. The rhino bumped his head and grew a horn.
All the elephant's teeth fell out, except for two which became very long. The giraffe
sprained his neck and it grew to a great length. The hippo rolled about so much he became
nearly round, ended up in a pond and didn't come out, he was too ashamed to be seen . . .
Well, in that fall, all the animals took on a different appearance and became what they
are today. And when the lion saw them, what he said was: "Oh, how funny you