Thank you so much to everyone who participated in our fable contest! We had many wonderful entries, but unfortunately we had to narrow it down to just a few winners. Note that the number of winners is relative to the number of entries in each category.
So sit, back, relax, and celebrate World Folktales and Fables Week with us by enjoying these creative and thoughtful tales!
Preschool - 4th grade Winners
How the Snow Leopard Got His Spots
By Gawyn Temple
One day, a snow Leopard named Saber Tooth went to bathe in the river. The river was polluted. He bathed anyway and then got out. Unfortunately, after he dried off he saw that his beautiful white fur had many dark spots of oil stuck to it. He shrugged and went to go hunt. He rubbed against trees to mark his territory. A little of the oil rubbed off on the trees. But not all of it came off. So, he went to his friend, the Panther.
“Panther,” he said, “Do you know how to get this oil off my beautiful white coat?”
“Yes. You just need to use some fire to burn it off.” Panther replied.
“Thank you, but that sounds dangerous.”
“Don’t worry! You’ll be fine!” said Panther.
So Saber Tooth set out to find fire. No one had fire except for Man. Man lived in small camps near the mountains. Saber tooth went to Man’s camp and waited until they had all gone to bed for the night. He slowly stalked up to the fire. Carefully, he reached out a paw to the flames. Suddenly the oil on his paw caught fire! It quickly spread up his leg and over his back! He jumped backwards with a shriek and ran to the river and dove in. He was glad that he got the fire out quickly before it burned him. But, his coat was not white. Instead, it was covered with small, circular spots of char where the oil had been. Saber Tooth realized that Panther had tricked him. He should never had trusted a cat that was totally black about how to regain white fur. Panther had a good laugh.
From that time forward, Snow Leopards and Panthers were not friends anymore. They competed for food and stayed in different territories. And that is how the Snow Leopard came to have spots.
How the Python Came to be Green
By Acadia Temple
One day a python named Slither slithered through the grass, looking for food. He was dark brown, and did not blend in that well. He tried and tried to hunt for food, but everyone saw him coming. The birds flew away, and the mice scuttled into their holes. He was always hungry.
Then one day, he saw a Jaguar. Jaguar was a good hunter. He caught many things to eat. “Jaguar, can you tell me the secret of catching food?” Slither asked.
Jaguar said, “I know what you need to do. I use camouflage to catch my food. You need to learn how to blend in.”
“How do I do I learn to blend in?” asked Slither.
“Go and eat all the grass that you can fit. Eat and eat. Then you will find out the secret of becoming camouflage.”
“Thank you.” said Slither. He went to the field and began to eat as much grass as he could. It tasted gross. But he kept eating. He ate and ate until his stomach hurt. By then it was night. He fell asleep.
That night his body digested the grass and his scales slowly turned green.
In the morning Slither was shocked to see that he was now a Green Python. It worked! He was so excited. He went off to hunt.
He slithered out to the field, where he snuck up on a mouse nest. They did not see him coming because of his camouflaged green scales. He gobbled them all up. He was happy to have a full tummy. Mice were much more delicious to eat than grass! Slither never had trouble catching food again.
And that is how the Python came to be green.
How the Coyote Got Such Large Ears
By Ely Temple
One day a young coyote named Fang met his teacher, a porcupine named Mrs. Quills. “Hello, what are you doing here?” he asked.
“I need to get an alligator tooth for my next class,” said Mrs. Quills.
“I will be happy to go and get one for you,” said Fang.
“Thank you!” cried Mrs. Quills.
And so, Fang set off for the swamp.
At the swamp, Mr. Alligator saw Fang coming and thought, “Oh look! Food is coming right into my mouth!” Or, so he thought…
Fang saw Mr. Alligator and asked, “Do you have a spare tooth?”
“Why yes,” answered Mr. Alligator, “They are right in my tummy.” And he opened his mouth very wide.
“Okay, but I would rather not go in there,” said Fang. He knew the alligator was trying to trick him, so he launched an attack. Mr. Alligator bit down on fangs ears and tried to pull him into the water. Fang’s ears began to stretch and stretch. Then Mr. Alligator lost his grip. Fang backed away and looked into the swamp. He noticed that an alligator tooth was stuck in his ear. He also noticed that his ears were much bigger, but thankfully they did not hurt that bad.
Fang returned back to Mrs. Quills and gave her the alligator tooth. He didn’t mind that his ears were so much bigger. It just meant that he could listen better in class. And that is how the coyote came to have such large ears.
5th - 8th grade Winners
The Turtle and the Pond
By Jennifer Vogt
Before there were lakes and ponds and oceans, there was just one small pond. The pond was circular with clear water, not a speck of dirt in it. Although many fish lived in the pond, no dirt or rock soiled it. The fish lived in peace; never starved, or poisoned by the water. No other animals ever came to the pond, for it was surrounded in mud.
One day a turtle did come to the pond, though. Hoping to get a drink, the turtle walked slowly across the mud, picking up dirt on his feet the entire time.
“No one cares if I get a bit of dirt in the water,” the turtle thought.
By the time the turtle reached the pond, he was caked with sludge. He figured he might as well wash it all as he got his drink. Before he could dip his foot into the water a fish popped his head out of the water.
“Don’t come into the water! You’ll soil the perfect water that is our home. Find water elsewhere.”
The turtle reluctantly agreed. After the fish disappeared back under the water, the turtle hesitated. He was tired after the long trek through the mud. The turtle fell asleep, planning to leave once rested.
When the turtle finally woke, he was thirstier than ever.
He thought, “Perhaps I should drink from the water. It won’t affect much. Where else would I find water anyway? The fish must share their water.”
The turtle finally started into the pond, ignoring the protests of nearby fish. First a toe, then a leg- After a few minutes, the turtle was completely submerged. The dirt and mud were swept off of him into the water, suffocating most of the fish inside.
“Oh, how this feels nice! No wonder the fish were so selfish with their water!”
In that moment, the turtle looked around at all of the choking fish. They quickly grew gills, filtering out the sludge in the water.
They were angry with the turtle for ruining their perfect water. However, they welcomed the turtle, and they lived in peace for years. The fish silently held their grudge against the turtle until the day he died.
All that was left of the turtle was his shell. Over time, the fish had almost forgotten about the dirt, but now that the turtle was gone, they finally did something about it.
The fish broke down the turtle’s shell into small pieces, floating down to the bottom of the pond, covering the dirt that had sunken there.
From then on, all ponds and lakes and oceans weren’t so clean. But there were also lots of rocks to sit beautifully at the bottom of the pond, which is now at the Akron Zoo.
The Ant who Shook the World
By Andi Burrell
From the beginning of time the world has been constantly changing and altering. At one time or another, everything has happened for a reason. This is true when it comes to the telling of Theo, a strong ant who just needed food for his colony. He was wandering around the Akron Zoo begging anyone he could for just a sliver of their rations. Theo came across a lion cage and stopped in his tracks.
Lying before him was the great and powerful Leo. He has heard tales of the mighty lion who brutally attacks anyone in his path. Theo tried to slip away unnoticed, but it was too late.
“Hey, you,” Leo growled. “What is such a small and vulnerable creature doing around a legendary king such as I?”
“My condolences, sir. I didn’t mean to cause trouble,” Theo mumbled. “My colony is starving, and we are out of food. It’s quite the dilemma and I’m afraid I’m out of ideas!”
Leo’s face turned into a mischievous grin. This tiny ant has invaded his privacy, and it was time to get revenge. Leo thought back to when he was told of why no one ever picks up crumbs from the ground. He knew that if he wrongly advised Theo, he would be blamed for a great mishap.
“I know what you could do,” Leo snarled. “You should eat the crumbs of the food that the humans dropped. They are a very wasteful species. “It would be perfect! The ground would be cleaner and you would no longer be hungry.”
Theo smiled and trustingly agreed that Leo had come up with a great idea. He scurried to his home where he alerted the others of what had happened. The colony cheered for they would be hungry no more. Chaos arose and everyone set out to go get their food. For a long while, Leo heard nothing of the ants and started to worry his plan would not work. What a humiliation it would be if he had made a mistake this terrible. He knew that when one brainless ant accidentally picked up a natural part of the Earth, the surface would rumble and shake. Trees would fall and buildings collapse. Theo would be a disgrace, that is, if Leo’s plan worked.
Some more time went by and a new generation of ants came. Theo continued collecting when he came upon something that looked like minuscule piece of bread. The glanced at it only for a second, and picked it up. At that very moment, the ground roared and the trees rumbled. Leo woke with a start and laughed a vicious laugh. His plan and worked, and Theo was a fool.
From that moment on, whenever an earthquake occurred, it was just a helpless ant trying to keep himself full.
Little the Giant Panda
By Sydney Munger
In the Gansu province of central China, a newborn giant panda sat up and blinked its eyes for the first time. Over the next couple weeks his brother and sister grew rapidly, but he didn’t. His mother affectionately named him Little. The next days were happy ones for the family, they plodded along eating bamboo, sleeping, and wrestling on the forest floor. But soon tragedy struck. A snow leopard slunk over the hill and knocked Little’s mother off the side of the hill and onto a pile of sharp, jagged rocks. Little whimpered when he didn’t see his mother get up. The snow leopard lunged and scooped up Little’s brother and sister then ran down the side of the hill.
The next year, Little got up feeling extremely lonely, he ate some bamboo and decided to go on a journey. He was going to find another giant panda. Little made his way out of the forest and came to a busy market. There were so many people there. One lady with a booth offered him an apple, which he ate right out of her hand. Shortly, many people began to crowd around him, pushing and shoving to see. Little felt very cramped, he broke through the ring of people and ran towards a vast expanse of water. When he reached the water, he sat back in awe of how colossal the boat in front of him was.
Little was curious about the strange smell wafting from the boat, so he lumbered up the gangway. He saw men rushing in and out of a door either carrying plates with that strange smell of pitchers of multi-colored water. Little sat on the deck mesmerized by all the different scents and sights before him. Before long, Little felt a sudden lurch and saw in horror that he was moving away from the shore and his home. He slowly sank to the floor and fell asleep out of distress. He woke up to a man petting his fur. He bared his teeth in defense, and the man slowly walked away. Then, Little saw something that made his heart leap in excitement: it was land. He could continue his journey after all!
When they reached land he ran down the gangplank and began to sniff the air for smells. He smelled many foreign odors, such as cooked meat and something nutty. Little wanted to explore, but he knew he had to stay focused. He walked through many forests, but none of them were cool, wet or had bamboo trees. After many miles, he finally saw something: it was a lion, a bear, and a tiger. He looked up and saw the words Akron Zoo. He ventured in and saw another giant panda. His whole body swelled with happiness and immediately the temperatures rose. To this day whenever the temperatures rise know that somewhere a giant panda is filled with joy.
High School and Older Winner
A Winter Encounter
By Sharon Kimmy
I arrived by the lake with only a few hours of daylight left. “Better set up camp,” I thought. “It will get cold tonight.”
With that I began to clear the area for my tent, and set it up. The woods were a little thicker on the windward side.
“Hmm, good choice. Should help cut any wind.”
As the sun began to slide beneath the adjoining hills, I got the fire going to feed me and Ralph. Ralph, my faithful old companion, was a mixed breed. Definitely German Shepherd, but not quite sure about the rest of him! Supper was merely some old venison stew reheated. Ralph ate his a lot faster than I did. Then I poured a cup of coffee into one of those insulated mugs. It was hot and the steam rose invitingly. “Ahh. Good coffee. This will warm my toes and my soul.”
“Need to throw another log on the fire,” I thought as I surveyed the area around me. The winter whiteness was everywhere. Branches hung low under the weight of the newly fallen snow. In the quiet of the evening, I could hear an owl off in the distance calling to his mate. There were tracks leading from the woodland down to the lake where a large moose had broken through the ice and was feeding.
“I wonder if he might like some stew,” I mused. The thought of a moose eating venison stew caused me to chuckle. The fire crackled and popped, and suddenly the moose lifted his head and stood frozen in the moment, briefly checking the air. A magnificent, solitary figure. Then he was gone.
As I sipped the coffee, I grasped it tightly in a feeble attempt to warm my hands. The cold was soaking into my body and the warmth of the hot liquid felt so good. I pulled my parka up a little closer around my face, and snuggled closer to the fire. At that point I became aware of a slight movement at the edge of the clearing. I peered across the roaring fire, unable to focus in on anything. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him. He stood at the fringes of the woods. We just stared at each other. I wondered how long he had been there, motionless, watching me. I threw another log on the fire, and the flames leaped higher. Time seemed to stand still. Finally the wolf came a little closer. Was I to be his next meal? He continued to come forward warily. Soon he was across from me, on the other side of the fire ring. We continued to watch each other for a few more brief moments. Then he turned and walked away.
A chance encounter with one of nature’s creatures. I drank from my cup and became aware that my hands were shaking. I also realized that I never felt more alive. I poured another cup and sat back on the log that served as my sitting place. It was only then that I noticed the silence. The snow acted as a muffler; I strained my ears. Off in the distance I thought I could hear the flapping of wings. I followed the sound with my eyes and finally the distinct formation of geese could be seen in the distance. Once they disappeared from the horizon, the silence returned. I sipped again from my mug and finally relaxed, enjoying the peaceful silence.
A special thanks to Ms. Mervine of Rootstown Middle School, who encouraged many of her students (pictured above) to participate in our contest!
Thank you also to everyone who participated! Your love for animals and the Akron Zoo warms our hearts, and by writing, you help us continue our mission of inspiring lifelong learning and conservation action!