Thursday, May 3, 2012

For DC's Official State Animal: The Squirrel!

On April 23 we announced a contest on the Cleveland Park Listserv: Nominate an official state animal for DC. We had discovered that DC, while it has a state bird (the wood thrush) and a state tree (the scarlet oak), and a state flower (the American beauty rose), lacks a state animal. We said we would review all the entries and announce the winner at the beginning of May. So here goes:

The winning animal for the official DC animal contest is: The Squirrel

Larry Albert, the contest winner, will receive a Garden Web Cam for his choice and essay. Larry wrote, "I nominate the squirrel as our city animal. Squirrels are indigenous to DC and can be found in every park in the city. Many of them are accustomed to greeting tourists and visitors every single day, asking for snacks. Some come right up to us on the many park benches and look us in the eye. I love cats and dogs, but picking one will likely make the other owners jealous. And the pandas are not really ours since they are cared for by the Federal government. So, Mr. Squirrel is my nominee."

Here are some of the runners up -- a few with the explanations for the nomination:

Park ranger’s horse
Howler monkey

Nominations for the last four animals all came with references to similarities between the animal to the humans who deal in politics and reside in our city.

A close runner-up was the coyote, with this explanation from Emily Vargas-Baron: "This noble animal roams Rock Creek Park and survives by his wits. I spotted one not long ago at the corner of Nebraska and Van Ness. He knew he owned the neighborhood and fearlessly crossed the street to explore the neighborhood. This courageous and adaptable animal epitomizes the spirit of our city."

We also liked this nomination of the teddy bear from Peter Brusoe -- but alas, felt we had to stick to the requirement that nominees must be animals "living" in DC. But it was a cute entry and we wanted to share it:

"Theodore Roosevelt lived in DC when could not bear to shoot a cub and teddy bears were born. More importantly, the relationship Americans have with teddy bears mimics their relationship with DC. As children we loved our teddy bears, played with them, took them on picnics, as adults that affection is gone. As children we loved coming to DC for vacation, as adults we hold it in disdain as a tax sinkhole and center as a corruption. Plus, a teddy bear is as real as our statehood, only in our imaginations."

We urge the Council to designate the squirrel as DC's official State Animal, and of course will announce it on the listserv if it comes to pass.

Thanks to all who entered!

Bill Adler & Peggy Robin
Cleveland Park Listserv

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