Taratumba was the smallest cheetah cub.
His brother and sister were much larger and would never let Taratumba win any of the games.
His mother would watch as they wrestled and raced.
Even though Taratumba was always overpowered and last in the races he never stopped trying.
When he was one month old he and his siblings began to chase rabbits and birds around the savannah. Taratumba wanted to practice hunting too but when he tried his brother or sister would run up behind him and take the small animal he was chasing for themselves. They would laugh at Taratumba but he never stopped trying.
Soon, Taratumba learned that while his siblings were faster, he was smaller and quieter. When no one was watching he would sneak away from his mother and practice stalking small animals. He would crouch down as low as possible making him nearly invisible. Slowly, he would sneak through the grass as quiet as a mouse. After much practice, Taratumba could get so close that a rabbit only knew he was there when its whiskers felt his paw swiping at it.
One day, when no one was looking, Taratumba snuck out to practice stalking. He found a rat and stalked it for a while until the rat began to run. Taratumba raced after the rat and, for the first time, he caught it in his mouth. He was so proud and so excited to show his mother but when he turned around he did not see his mother or siblings anywhere.
Taratumba was afraid. He dropped the rat and it scurried off. He tried to retrace his steps but could not find his family.
After searching and searching, he found himself at the edge of a large forest. Tall dark trees towered over Taratumba which made him feel smaller than ever.
He turned to leave but stopped when he heard a mesmerizing voice coming from deep inside the forest. The voice was calm and comforting and softly said, "Taratumba... Taratumba..."
Taratumba was hypnotized by the voice so he walked toward the voice into the forest.
"Taratumba...Come to me," the voice called out.
Deep into the woods, Taratumba came upon a tall tree with many slithering limbs that stretched forever toward the sky and out into the endless forest. He looked up into the tree to see the glowing yellow eyes of a black panther staring back at him. It was crouched high above Taratumba, ready to pounce on the little cheetah cub. Taratumba stared back at the panther, transfixed by its gaze.
Without warning the panther lept toward Taratumba but he was able to jump away, barely escaping the panther's razor-sharp fangs.
Taratumba ran as fast as he could but the panther was getting closer. Knowing he could not outrun the panther Taratumba took a sharp left and hid inside a big bush. The panther stopped and sniffed the air searching for its dinner.
Taratumba crouched silently through the forest floor sneaking around massive tree roots, fallen logs and jungle vines. With the vicious panther just behind him, he crept closer and closer to the light coming from the edge of the trees.
When Taratumba was within a few feet of the savannah grasses he began to run. The panther heard him and took chase. In a fury, Taratumba ran past the trees and into the open grassland. With the panther just behind him, he saw three cheetahs running toward him.
The panther caught up in time to slash at Taratumba's legs causing him to fall forward into the dirt. Before the panther could strike again Taratumba's mother and siblings were there to get in the way. Even though the panther was much larger the Taratumba family was more agile and ducked away from its swipes. Taratumba watched as they took every opportunity to strike back at the beast. His siblings fought bravely hitting the panther alongside their mother.
All of this commotion confused the panther who gave up and ran back into the darkness of the forest.
As Taratumba struggled to his feet his family surrounded him and helped him get up. They nuzzled and licked him showing him how much they had worried when he went missing. Taratumba told them about how he was getting really good at stalking and how he was practicing when he heard the panther calling him from the forest. He told them that he would never sneak behind their backs again and they told him that they wanted to see his new skill in action. The family walked back into the arid grasslands, this time, with Taratumba leading the way.