Once, the king of the jungle, the Lion, got very ill. He asked his faithful ministers to fetch him food to kill everyday.
His council of ministers agreed and brought him an animal to kill daily. One day none of the ministers was able to bring any animal.
The ferocious king asked one of the minister, “Why is there no animal in front of my den today?”.
The minister, who was a crow, said to the king, “Sire, all the animals of the jungle have gone to the nearby jungle to live. Now there is no animal left.”
“And why is that so, crow?”
“That’s because the humans have started cutting the trees and there is barely any covered area remaining for all the animals to stay peacefully without bumping into each other as they breathe.
At this, the Lion said, “If this is the situation the one of you shall be my today’s lunch, I can’t go on hungry, you know.”
The council stepped aside for a minute and talked with each other. Then they told their plan one by one to the Lion.
First the crow stepped forward, bowing low, “Your majesty, I am a little creature, please eat me.”
The fox pushed the crow aside, “I have more flesh on me. Please eat me, sire.”
The leopard rushed in, “I am even bigger, your majesty.”
Just when the Lion was about to decide which animal to eat, an elephant stepped up. He said, “Sorry your majesty, I am not a part of your council, but I am the biggest animal in the jungle. You are our king, you are the one who protects us from the ruthless humans. These other animals are more useful to you than I am. Eat me instead.”
At these words, the crow, the fox and the leopard got ready to pounce on the elephant to kill it. Their plan had worked. The crow had seen the elephant long before and knew that he would sacrifice him for the Lion, so the ministers had put on a charade so that the elephant would sacrifice himself.
Before the ministers could do anything, the Lion said, “All of you stop! Don’t kill the poor elephant. It was my duty to protect you all from the humans, but I failed to do so because of my age. If all the creatures of this jungle have left, I order you all to leave as well. I don’t want to kill more animals, not after what I failed to do for them. Anyway, I am very old and get sick often. Now, I want to live a simple life and I don’t want anyone to interfere. So please, leave this jungle. The humans will come soon and take me to one of their prisons I heard were called ‘zoos’. ”
The ministers left immediately but the elephant remained. It said to the lion, “Sire, I don’t want to leave you alone in the jungle. Please eat me, you will enjoy a good meal for four to five days. Please don’t stay hungry. I insist.”
The Lion’s eyes became moist and then it said, “I don’t want to eat you. But you are my friend now. I would love it if you will help in this last phase of my life.”
The elephant agreed and stayed there with the Lion. It helped the Lion shelter himself from the humans for a few days, but then, as expected, the Lion died.
The elephant went to the nearby jungle where the other animals were staying. Apparently, the humans were after their tails and even this second forest wasn’t safe anymore.