Saturday, April 18, 2009


My dog has taken a deep scholarly interest in squirrels. Our walks have become characterized by the pause, paw lifted and ears pricked, followed by full-throttle barreling toward some distant tree, where he then rises on his hind legs, one paw resting on the bark, and gazes longingly upward at his chattering, taunting quarry.

But nothing thrills him more than these guys, a long lineage of whom inhabit the town square.

The albino squirrels here are leisure squirrels, well-fed and publicly adored. With Emmett as their main threat, they can look forward to long and happy lives.

Most albino and leucistic (another white-skin condition) animals are not so lucky. In the wild, they're vulnerable to sunburn (!) and easier for predators to target. Hunters are the worst of all--strange how humans place an enormous monetary value on a white animal ($60,000 for the chance to shoot a white tiger) that is less about the animal and more about the thrill of killing it.

Paradoxically the animal is much rarer alive than it is dead. The population of skinned and stuffed albinos surely outnumbers the living (and continues to grow).

Astutely put: "It is an incredibly Victorian attitude that if something is unusual your response is to kill it."

That's right, little guy. Beat your retreat.

By the way, a Google image search of albino animals yields a pretty mind-blowing gallery. Gorillas, kangaroos, peacocks, giraffes, moose, pink dolphins...


donal Mosher said...

That's my power-animal!!

Dawn said...

my boxer is all white (but not albino, despite people's assumptions) and he is prone to sunburn, especially around his nose and mouth. i put sunscreen on him if he'll be out in the sun long.

i love the albino squirrels in tappan square! i'm glad to hear they are still thriving.