Once upon a time, the
decided to offer a great party. They invited the
alligators and the
Al the guests tried to look their best for the occasion: the
alligators wore banana
necklaces and smoked Paraguayan cigars; the
toads had fish
all over their bodies and the frogs
smelled of perfume and
hung a firefly from their neck.
But the most beautiful of them all were undoubtedly the snakes,
each one of them wore a skirt matching her own color. They were
dressed in red, green, yellow and grey.
Only the flamingos, who at that time had white legs, did not look
happy. Since they had little intelligence, they
did not fancy
what to wear to look their best. They
attire, specially that of the coral snakes. They
turned green with envy every time one the snakes walked in
front of them, swinging their gauze veils.
One of the flamingos then said:
– I know what we're going to do. We are going to put on red,
white and black
stockings, and then the snakes will fall in love
So they all flew across the river and tried asking in different
stores, but the answer was always the same:
Are you out of your mind? There are no stockings in those colors.
We haven't got any such stockings.
They knocked at every door of every store they
unsuccessfully, until the “tatú”, a bird from the surroundings
who happened to be drinking water from the river, decided to
play a trick on them.
After a very polite greeting, he said to the flamingos:
– Good evening, sirs. I know exactly what you're
You won't be able to find such stockings in any store over here.
Maybe you might find them in Buenos Aires, but you'll have to
order them by mail and it will take a long time… My sister-in-law,
owl, has got them and I'm sure she will be
to give you those red, white and black stockings.
So the flamingos thanked him and flew to the owl's cave. They told
– Good evening, Mrs Owl. We've come to ask you for the red, white
and black stockings. Today is the snakes'
ball and we're
sure if we wear those stockings, the snakes will fall in love with
– With pleasure! –answered the owl---I'll be right back.
And she flew away and returned after a while carrying the
stockings, which were not really stockings but the skin of some
snakes she had just hunted.
– Here you are –she said to them.
– Just one thing… you should
stop dancing, dance the way you want, the way
you can, but never stop dancing, for if you do, you'll be crying
instead of dancing.
Being so silly, the flamingos failed to see the danger they
were in; they fit in their stockings and flew to the dance
Once they arrived, the rest of the company looked at them in envy.
They looked so beautiful that the snakes wanted to dance only with
But after a while, the snakes became suspicious. They didn't take
their eyes off those stockings. But the flamingos danced on and on
although they were dead tired.
The snakes noticed this and asked the frogs for their fireflies to
use them as torches and waited for the flamingos to drop off from
A minute later, one of the flamingos
tripped on an
alligator and fell down. The snakes ran to him and lighted his
feet with a firefly. She then shouted out so loudy that her voice
could be heard all along the Parana River:
– These are not stockings!
– We've been cheated! The flamingos
have killed our sisters and have used their skin as stockings!
Their stockings are nothing but snakes' skin!
On hearing this, the flamingos tried to fly away since they were
scared, but they were so exhausted that they could
not even move. It was then that the snakes got them and began
their legs, tearing off the skins, crawling around
The flamingos were so much in pain that they jumped off from one
side to the other, but the snakes didn't leave them alone till
they saw not one bit of the stockings had been left.
Besides, since most of the snakes were poisonous, they thought
the flamingos would die from the bites.
But they did not. Only their legs, which had been white before,
have remained red from the poison ever since.
This happed a long long time ago but still today, the flamingos
must keep their legs in the water all day, for if they walk away,
the pain from the
venom returns and it is so strong that
it forces them back into the water. All the fish know about this
and they mock the flamingos who take revenge on them by eating
every single fish who swims too close to them.
This is the story of how the flamingos, who used to have white
legs, now have red ones, and of the price they paid for their