As contemporary man makes great leaps and bounds in technology, he is drawn further and further from his animalistic past. New modern inventions like the horseless carriage and automated slide ruler are almost commonplace in this, man's most fantastic era of existence. Nonetheless, there no doubt still exists a strong and ancient bond between man and beast. In fact, many humans have yet to evolve in appearance at all. Take, for instance, the shaggy Robin Williams, or the orangutan-like Mick Jagger. Also, there is no greater evidence of non-evolution in man than the existence and popularity of Adam Sandler.
Thus, even as humanity and civilization march towards a brave new world, we pay tribute to our great animal roots. Indeed, most nations on earth have an official national animal, a creature which best exemplifies the characteristics and people of its homeland.
India has of course the noble Bengal Tiger as its representative. Yes, nothing illustrates the greatness of the Indian people like the majestic tiger. Knowing nothing of India personally, I can only assume that Indians weigh between 350-550 pounds, have short thick fur, prefer prey of deer or wild pigs, reside solitarily or in small groups, and bear single litters every 2-3 years. I am puzzled, however, over the constant vocal concern regarding Indian extinction. The last that I heard there are still a billion of them around. This minor bafflement aside, I doubt the Indian people could have chosen a better animal envoy.
In New Zealand, their local animal ambassador to the world is the stout Kiwi. Often confused with the fruit of the same name, the Kiwi bird is different from the Kiwi fruit in that it is a bird. The dignified and gracious life of the Kiwi involves rooting invertebrates out of the mud, and emerging only at night. One of the primary traits of the Kiwi is the monogamous pairing with its mate for time periods of up to twenty years. This minor miracle of enduring union has lead to the popular New Zealand saying, “Wow, she’s really got you by the Kiwis mate.”
England’s long continuing symbol of national pride and power is the mighty lion. Residing only 3000 miles(or 4500 miles as the Kiwi walks) from England itself, the lion represents everything that is shaggy and feline about Britannia. The lion was officially instated by the nutty King George III, and more recently its popularity skyrocketed with Queen Elton John’s involvement in the feature film “The Lion King”. To this day, England’s connection to the lion remains strong; it was recently reported that a lion ate a Welshman touring in Zambia. Yes, England and the lion, truly a correlation of the ages.
Of course, there is one national animal like no other. A creature so akin to its countrymen that they may as well be one and same. A beast whose nobility and greatness truly know no bounds. The animal of which I speak is none other than the splendid beaver.
The history of Canadians and their beavers is a long and penetrating one, filled with massive logs, delicious tail, and the occasional monument erection. French and British explorers who first discovered the beaver quickly fell in love with the cute little critters, and subsequently had them methodically slaughtered. Still, the kind beaver is a forgiving creature. Our dark past with them is long forgotten, and they continue to overlook our occasional explosive demolition of their homes.
Yet, there are tribulations in the seemingly angelic relationship between Canadians and beavers. There is the concern, of course, about a certain term that “beaver” is often related to. A term that can frequently cause euphemistic embarrassments because of its particular vulgar meaning and position on the human body. I speak, of course, of the beaver fur hat, which continues to be widely accepted even though its construction requires the death of innocent beavers.
While many consider the 5 cent nickel to be Canada’s ultimate tribute to the beaver, I personally deem the honor of chief tribute to be held by the oft forgotten 1971 Broadway musical “Eh, Beaver.” Penned and composed by Canadians Robby and Hammerchard, “Eh, Beaver” ran for almost 2 weeks. The musical itself is the tale of the hapless beaver Marty who is forced from his home on account of jealously over his multicolored fur. Marty wanders Canada until he unites with some time traveling villagers from colonial America who take him back to the French Revolution. Here he falls in with a troupe of singing cats who, after a melody filled sea voyage, help him become the president of Argentina.
And so we are ever reminded of our national symbol, the beaver, by Robert and Hammerchard’s timeless ornate melodies that no doubt ring fresh in the mind of every true Canadian patriot.
I’ve lost my dam
And ‘ave not a pole
So here I am
Just a beaver in a hole
(Chorus)Don’t give up Marty!
You must reach your goal!
Don’t give up Marty!
Show us you’ve got soul!
There’s not a drop of water
My home is gone
I’m up for the slaughter
I can’t go on
(Chorus)Don’t give up Marty!
The future tisn’t foregone!
Don’t give up Marty!
A new day will dawn!