How the giraffe got its long neck

7 04 2012

Each week, the kids in my class (mostly 3rd graders) are given a writing prompt for the week. If I am able, I like to join them in these exercises in writing. I’ll try to type up and put some of my writing here.

Writing Prompt: Make up a story that explains how the giraffe got its long neck.

As a giraffe jockey, people often ask me whether or not I know why and how the giraffe got its long neck. “What a preposterous question,” I tell them. “Of course I know! Do you think I am an uneducated giraffe jockey?!” There is, in fact, a very simple explanation. The story begins a long time ago.

In ancient times the giraffe was proportionally the same as other animals. That is to say, it didn’t yet have its long neck or long legs. Indeed, the giraffe was only slightly larger than the common camel at that time.

In those days, giraffes would run in desert races against horses, zebras, camels, and bison. Jockeys (as we call them now) would bring their animals from all over the Near East in order to compete in these races. These desert races were very popular. Some would even draw crowds of 30,000!Image

Due to the popularity of the races, the jockeys really wanted to win. If they won, they would receive a huge prize and gain great fame. So, the jockeys would push themselves – and their animals – to extreme limits.

Unfortunately the giraffes only rarely won the races. They usually came in second or third place – finishing five or ten feet behind the winner. As such, the jockeys would whip the giraffes harder and harder – hoping to force them to go faster.

However, no matter how hard they tried, the giraffes couldn’t go any faster. They tried and tried, but they still always seemed to finish five to ten feet behind the winners. Instead, the giraffes learned to stretch their necks out in order to make up for the length they were behind. Over time – and much stretching – the giraffe’s neck became longer and longer.

That, I tell people, is the very simple explanation of how the giraffe got its long neck. …and this comes from a very reliable source: a giraffe jockey. As for how the giraffe got its long legs – well, that’s a story for another day.

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