It’s a jungle out there. A crappy, crappy jungle.
As well as a flag and a national anthem, almost every country also has a national animal to represent it. This seems like a bizarre and arbitrary extra step to take, but it’s easier to understand when you consider that it’s a tradition left over from a simpler time – a time when the single most formidable threat you could announce to a neighboring nation was, “Don’t come here. We have leopards.” There don’t seem to be any set rules for choosing an animal for your country, but the general etiquette is to pick something both native and awe-inspiring; India, for example, has the tiger as its mascot, while many African countries have the lion or the elephant. Some, countries, however, choose to ignore these guidelines, and that’s when you end up with the following terrible, terrible choices…
Australia is home to more things that will kill you in more astonishingly unpleasant yet surprising ways than the rest of the world put together - and that’s before you even get to the animals. Yet Australia’s choice of national animal is the kangaroo or – if they’re feeling particularly touristy – the koala, which is criminally negligent at best, and blatant false advertising at worst. Remember, this is the country that’s home to the great white shark, the box jellyfish, the blue-ringed octopus, the funnel-web spider, and the taipan snake; having a kangaroo as their national animal is the equivalent of Jeffrey Dahmer putting a picture of a kitten as his OK Cupid profile pic. We know what you’re up to, Australia, and we do not approve.
Oh, France. We know you helped us out during the revolutionary war, and we do try to like you, but sometimes you really do make some odd choices – in this case, having a rooster as your emblem. We’re just going to put this out there – when you have the reputation that you do for surrendering, having a big chicken as your national animal maybe wasn’t the best choice. Still, you at least get points for honesty (looking at you, Australia).
Haiti’s animal of choice is the Hispaniolan Trogon, and…wait, the what? Haiti, when choosing an animal to represent your country, it’s generally not helpful to have an animal that no one has ever heard of. Even its Wikipedia entry is only 86 words: to put that in perspective, Aquaman’s entry – fucking Aquaman – has 8,446. When your national animal is considered to be 8,360 words less important than Aquaman, it’s time to go back to the old drawing board. Oh – it’s a bird, by the way.
The sovereign city state of Monaco – best known for its Grand Prix, its casinos, and its tax exiles – has several national animals, each less intimidating than the last. While Russia has the bear and Pakistan has the mugger crocodile, Monaco has the wussiness trifecta of the hedgehog, the rabbit, and the wood mouse. Apparently “awesome badass national mascot” got mistranslated to “characters for an adorable children’s book.”
In news that will shock absolutely no one, North Korea’s national animal is completely made up. That’s right – the country best known for its incredibly subtle use of Photoshop to liven up official functions has a fictional creature as its public face – in this case, the Chollima, which is a sort of magic horse. Now, North Korea isn’t the only country to do this: China and Wales both have dragons as their emblems, after all. But at least those two counties don’t pretend the things actually exist.
Really, Mauritius? The dodo? That famously slow, flightless, and delicious bird that’s even more famously completely extinct? The point of a national animal is to represent the character of your country. That’s why America has the eagle: it’s big, it’s powerful, it’s majestic, and it has the capacity to conduct long-range aerial bombardments against other, much smaller, less well-equipped animals. It’s perfect! What does a dodo say about you? Well, it says nothing, apparently. BECAUSE IT’S DEAD.
5 States That Have State Dinosaurs
March Cover Girl: Elisha Cuthbert