Kids' Animal Station

For kids who love animals by a kid who loves animals

5 Lucky Animals From 5 Different Places

Cows in Hinduism

This past Valentine’s Day, the Animal Welfare Board of India made the news by proclaiming this Feb. 14th “Cow Hug Day”! But why is this gentle, cud-chewing grazer getting so much love and attention in India? You may be surprised to learn that the cow is actually not only incredibly sacred to Hinduism, but considered by many to be the economic and gastronomic “backbone” of Indian society. This is largely due to their intimate connection with the Hindu god Krishna, who was raised by cowherds and became known for protecting cows, and the idea that cows themselves represent Mother Earth because their milk nourishes baby calves and humans alike. Moreso, the milk of the cow is converted into various forms, like yogurt, ghee, and buttermilk, and their dung is used as fertilizer for crops. No wonder Hindus, who made up more than 80% of India’s population, strictly refrain from consuming beef! I may not identify as Hindu, but I’m truly happy to see these sweet, beautiful animals getting the love they deserve.

Rabbits in Celtic Culture

Before I did any research on this cultural connection to the hare, I stereotypically associated the rabbit’s foot with the luck of the Irish due to my vague understanding of Celtic culture. However, I was surprised to learn that this delicate and quick-footed little mammal actually possesses a much deeper symbolism to the people of present-day Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany. Celtic imagery of hares was often inspired by the story of the patron saint of hares, Melangell, who was a Celtic princess said to have escaped an arranged marriage and created a sanctuary in Pennant Valley.

Some myths take this idea even further, speaking of shapeshifting hares, like the one hunted by Oisin who transformed into a beautiful woman after being struck on the leg. Generally, they are mystical, elusive figures of femininity and fertility due to their tendency to breed incredibly fast. Did you know that their gestation period, 28 days, is the same length as the cycle of the moon and the cycle of the human female reproductive system?

Deer in Japan

Nara Park, located in Nara, Japan, is not only one of the oldest parks in Japan, but an iconic tourist location. Why? Besides featuring the largest Great Buddha statue in the world, weighing in at 300 tons, this 1,630 acre park at the base of Mount Wakakusa is also home to thousands of small, friendly Sika deer. These beautiful, spotted Bambis are sacred to both Buddhists and the native Shinto religious belief system alike, in which they are the messengers of the Gods. The ancestral symbol of the ancient Fujiwara clan, deer have come to symbolize peace, divinity and rebirth across Japan. Due to their revered status, the Nara Park deer live without fear of human beings, who often come from across the world to feed and pet them. Who knew you could get closer to the Gods by feeding them little crackers?! I’m starting to feel quite pious, actually. 🙂

American Bison in Plains Native Tribes

Finally, a topic I (sort of) have a connection to! Growing up in Denver, Colorado, where the majority of the settlements were founded in the Great Plains below the base of the Rocky Mountains, American Bison have a special place in my heart. I live right across from the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, an abandoned nuclear testing site where bison, coyotes and deer on cleared plains area now roam freely in a campaign to heal the land. Oftentimes, a herd of bison will be grazing along the fence and I’ve seen bucks rolling in the dust in the summer, which is an amazing privilege.
Many Native American tribes such as the Apache, Crow, Lakota, and Comanche lived nomadic lifestyles centered around the seasonal movement of American Bison across the grasslands. These majestic creatures were hunted ritually and respectfully, ensuring none of their resources went to waste. Besides providing an average of 800 pounds of edible meat, the hides of hunted bison bulls were tanned and used as teepee walls, the stomach as a cooking vessel, the tail as a medicine switch and the bones as arrowheads, ceremonial objects and war clubs. In many Plains Native mythological stories, the bison willingly give themselves up as a food source for the nourishment of human beings and gave the tribes important medicinal knowledge.

Scarabs in Ancient Egypt

The scarab dung beetle, recognizable by its rolling of dung fragments where their eggs are laid, is a popular symbol within ancient Egyptian art. Their flat, iridescent shells commonly appeared as amulets on necklaces, rings, earrings, and furniture as a symbol of protection, resurrection, and connection with the heavens. While working with poop may not be the most admirable trait to us, the Egyptians saw the scarab beetle as a manifestation of the deity Khepri, the early morning god who the rolls sun onto the horizon each morning. Fascinating, right?! I can’t say I would’ve drawn that connection myself, yet I do have respect for any creature resilient enough to survive the scorching heat and drought of the desert biome.

Wise Words

"Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if a person or animal is at stake."
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Until the lion tells his side of the story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter."
— Translation of African Proverb

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