Why Tigers Are Orange

Once upon a time there was a tiger named Purple. Her name was purple because back then all the tigers had a different colored coat, and they named the color of their coat, and that color was their name. This is how all the colors came to be.

Anywho. Purple had a best friend named Yellow. Purple and Yellow would run through the jungles in search for adventure. They would tip over the fat hippos and jump on the alligators, and chase the birds and climb the giraffes and have a grand ole times. And Yellow would tell Purple that they were opposites, but it was okay because opposites attract. And they loved each other, like best friends and lovers often do.

Purple could always pick out Yellow not only because of his coat, but because amongst all his stripes was a funny dot. And he was the only one in the tribe who had it.

So Purple and Yellow went along their merry way, playing and laughing together. One day, as Purple was hunting (she was an expert hunter), she saw her friend Pink playing with another tiger, Green. Pink had told Purple all about Green, how wonderful he was, how he told Pink that they were opposites, that it was okay because opposites attract.

As Purple lurched in the jungle leaves, about to approach her friends, she saw something familiar. One of Green’s stripes had a funny dot next to it. And as she stared on she saw flickers of other colors in Green’s coat–blue, red, yellow–like they had been painted on. This didn’t make any sense. A tiger’s coat is it’s skin and is always one pure color.

How could this be? This must be an imposter! But who would impose upon the tigers? Who would perform such treachery? But then Purple remembered the legends she’d heard about the creatures called cheetahs. Their coats were a deep, dark color with spots.  A combination of colors that they could change to fit their deceiving ways. As Purple emerged from the trees she found herself face to face with Yellow. Or who she thought was Yellow.

Exposed and ashamed, he lowered his face. “Why would you do this?” she asked. Yellow did not say a word. He didn’t know what to say. Overwhelmed, he ran, and ran, and ran, until he could not see the jungle anymore. Until all the painted layers of coats fell off of him. Alone, he fell to the jungle floor. And alone he stayed for the rest of his life.

Purple and Pink did not chase after him. They simply fell down and cried. When the other tigers saw them in such a state they wept too, because the tigers have always carried one another’s burdens. They cried for days, until the very colors of their vibrant skin washed away and the orange dirt of the now dead jungle floor covered their bodies and sank deep into their skin.

And that’s why the tigers are orange.



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