Long legged striped baby animals. I don’t remember how I came to the decision that animals I was researching would become members of an elite all-girls’ International soccer team, but it must have been in early December of 2016. It started with an okapi, which is a shy and reclusive member of the Family giraffidae (the only other member of the family being a giraffe). The okapi is found in the Congo, and stands about 4’9″ (1.75 m) tall as an adult.
Destin Johnston was born on 12/15/16 (not literally!): Team Captain. popular, and an aggressive soccer forward. She’s from the genus Okapi johnstoni, and her species is ENDANGERED. (Illegal hunting, habitat destruction, civil war).
Meet Grace Eland, Team goalie. She’s aggressive and a little stand-offish, but she’s a team player with a punch. She’s in the family Bovidae, like many of her other teammates who are also in the antelope classification. Her specific genus is Taurotragus oryx (common eland), and she’s from the savannahs of east and southern Africa. She’ll be around 4.25′ as an adult female eland (possibly even 6′ tall).(1.3 to 1.8 m) Despite her stand-offish personality, she is an extrovert and enjoys being a part of the team. (Least Concern)
Seraphina Sitatunga is the team’s greatest asset when it is a rainy day on the field: she’s the daughter of marshbucks, a small species of antelope that love marshes and swamps. She’ll never be very tall, but she will most likely outgrow one of her coaches: 2.3′ to almost 3′ as an adult (71-88 cm). She’s also Family Bovidae, but genus Tragelaphus (t. spekii). Seraphina hails from Botswana, with cousins in Zambia, where they are of Least Concern. She’s quick on her hooves and agile, and loves a practical joke (but never a mean one!). *Sitatunga Antelope
Penda (“Penny”) Bongo. Also family Bovidae and genus Tragelaphus (t. eurycerus). She’s from Kenya where her people are Near Threatened. She’s gregarious and quick-witted, known for puns – and for faking out the enemy team. Penny will grow to be 3.5′ to just over 5′ (1 meter to 1.6m). Compact and head-strong, Penny gets along well with everyone on the team, but especially Grace Eland (probably because they are so alike).
Gretchen Tragelaphus is the third cousin in the genus Tragelaphus, and yet she is so very different from her cousins! T. imberbis, she is long-legged and fragile in appearance, but quick and alert. Her people inhabit the Horn of Africa where they are considered Near Threatened due to disease, overgrazing and human settlement, and loss of habitat. Gretchen is determined to overcome it all, and to even establish a school for all kudu, lesser and greater, thus eliminating the stigma applied to that tag line, “lesser” or “greater”. She hates discrimination. She will probably reach a height of 4.5′ (1.4m) as an adult.
Hani Gerenuk Garanuug is also from the Horn of Africa. She’s nick-named the “giraffe antelope” and she hates it. Her long neck has always made her feel shy and unaccepted until she tried out for the team and made the cut. Her greatest ally is Assistant Coach Tatarica, who has taught her that beauty is a matter of soul, not outward appearance. Other team members would argue that Hani’s graceful demeanor and exotic beauty are an attraction, not a repellent. Hani’s family is Near Threatened due to habitat loss. She is speedy, agile, and her dream is to go to college to learn how to protect critical habitat. She will probably reach 3′ in height (less than 1m), but her speed is deceptive.
LaToya Pronghorn galloped onto the playing field in a most un-antelope style. She is the fastest team member bar none (able to outrun a cheetah, which is a huge bonus when they play The Predators). La Toya is the only New World player, and is of Least Concern on the endangered list. Her people swarm the high deserts of the American West, racing locomotives, automobiles, and helicopters. Her instinct is to go low instead of jump over, often faking out a rival who expects her to jump. An interesting side note to LaToya’s family tree is that she is distantly related to Destin: she is under the Super-genus of giraffidae. LaToya will easily stand at 4’3″ to 5′ (1.6 to 1.8m) when she attains her full height. She’s a serious player on the field, but a real chum off the field.
Jamilah Somaliensis is from a sub-species of the Critically Endangered African Wild Ass. There are estimated to be only 700 to 1,000 Somali Wild Asses in the wild today, and Jamilah was born in captivity in Europe. She would love to return to Somalia and establish a preserve for her people, and for all African Wild Asses. She isn’t afraid of the elements, she loves the game, and she’s a quick player. She will be about the same height as Grace as an adult, but probably never over 5′ (1.5m). She’s naive, funny, and well-liked by her fellow players. Family: equidae, genus: equus.
Neo (gift or talent in Basotho) Quagga is the Miracle Player, and the only other member of the genus equus on the team. Neo is the result of the Quagga Project. They are dedicated to bringing back the particula sabspecies of the Plains Zebra that Neo’s family were originally from. Her parents are the result of selective breeding, and she has come under scrutiny of major councils who object to “returning extinct species back to life”. Of course, Neo – a talented soccer player – finds this rubbish. She is an outspoken critic of modern day extinctions, including the Dodo bird (1681). the Carolina parakeet (1904), and the Auroch (1627). Neo does not believe anyone should be allowed to go extinct while on her watch.
Meet Assistant Coach Tuli Tatarica. She stands a scarce 2′ tall (some of her people stand as tall as 3′) (that’s less than one meter!). She was MVP when she played on the original Stripes team as a young antelope of the Family Bovidae and genus saiga. Tuli understands discrimination, being Critically Endangered, and the power of being a team player. She achieved MVP precisely because she was over-looked by opposing teams as “too small” and “too funny looking” with her enlonged probiscus. Her nose gave her the advantage of deep breathing, especially in cold weather. Her lack of height was an illusion as she had the extraordinary speed of an antelope on her side. She is from Kazakhstan, a country torn with war, but her family tree extends into China where her famil was wiped out by indiscriminatory hunting. Disease and hunting are the greatest threats to the Saiga antelope.
Coach Concepcion Chrysocyon, of Bolivia. Coach Concepcion is the only predator on the team. She is also from the New World, like LaToya, but she is from the pampas of South America. She is neither fox nor wolf nor dog, although her Family is canidae. She’s a yard tall (less than 1 meter), with very long legs, and a lot of speed and agility. She looks ferocious, but she’s a puppy. Her own people are Near Threatened due to habitat loss and hunting, and disease. She wants the team to succeed, and is an aggressive, but fair, coach.
*better photos will be attached when I have better lighting. You can view the gallery on the page: Stripes