Life imitates art — quagga foal is named after lead character in new animated film

2013-10-02 00:00

A QUAGGA foal has been named Khumba after the lead character in the latest movie from award-winning Cape Town-based Triggerfish Animation Studios.

Khumba’s real-life counterpart also only has half his stripes and is part of the Quagga Project Association, a volunteer-based organisation that has been breeding this previously extinct variety of zebra back to life.

According to Craig Lardner of the association, Khumba will live on the slopes of Table Mountain in the SANParks reserve, the same place where the film’s director, Anthony Silverston, first learnt of the fascinating animal.

“I remember reading about the quagga as a child and being fascinated by the fact that an extinct animal could come back to life,” he said.

Later, Silverston recognised the potential for this extraordinary creature to be a strong visual metaphor for anyone struggling with identity.

“Khumba is a coming-of-age story about a zebra searching for his missing stripes as a way to be accepted back at his herd, but his journey is really a personal one of self-acceptance,” says Silverston.

“This question is at the heart of Khumba’s quest. If we continue to see our differences as something negative, at what point will we really be okay with ourselves the way we are?”

The name “Khumba” comes from the Zulu and Xhosa word meaning “skin” and, in the story, Khumba has defined himself by his exterior.

His difference is what has set him apart from the rest of the zebra herd, but only when he sees this as a good thing, can he look beyond himself and find the courage to help the rest of the animals in the Karoo.

“It is exciting to be associated with the Khumba story,” says Lardner. “The Quagga Project Association’s awareness will no doubt now grow as youngsters and school pupils are afforded the opportunity to visit the ‘live’ Khumba in one of our locations, right here on the slopes of Table Mountain.”

Khumba opens in South African cinemas on October 25.

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