September 20, 2015

"On several different occasions, I saw tourists just gushing over squirrels."

"They were taking selfies with the varmints in the background. Some had telephoto lenses and were shooting pictures like they’d stumbled on a bald eagle. I saw a whole family of Italians, three generations of them, gather around as they watched a squirrel eat a nut, or a pizza crust, or maybe it was a used condom. Who knows? Who cares? When did squirrels graduate to exciting wildlife? My dog would be appalled.... Which reminds me, last month, the Goldbergs were at the Copenhagen zoo. They had lions, some really cool vultures, and African wild dogs. They also had a big open-air exhibit of . . . raccoons. North American dumpster-diving raccoons. I thought it was hilarious."

From the depths a Jonah Goldberg column that I'm reading because there's material in it about Suzy Favor Hamilton, the topic of another post this morning. Go here for that. This post is about people who get excited about wildlife you think is utterly mundane and/or a nuisance.

36 comments:

CStanley said...

I dated an Aussie for awhile and he confessed to being amused by our squirrels. He compared it with tourists in Oz who are excited to see kangaroos.

James Pawlak said...

Perhaps they should note that THE PLAGUE is endemic among such rodents in Colorado and other places.

buwaya puti said...

Being a foreigner I always thought American squirrels were cute.
When the kids were young we used to take them to Golden Gate Park with a bag of nuts to feed the tame squirrels out of their hands.

Hagar said...

Most North-American wildlife are exotics in Europe.

But I understan the "cute" American grey squirrels have almost displaced the European red squirrels in Britain.

Interesting,not crazy said...

The only difference between a rat and a squirrel is the clothes they wear.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Gushing over a squirrel makes more sense to me than gushing over the Pope.

jaydub said...

I've never seen a squirrel in Spain, although there are enough oak trees producing acorns (bellotas) to make jamon Iberico, or jamon de bellota, the country's signature dish. Song birds seem to be rather scarce as well. If one doesn't consider the squirrel to be just a bushy tailed rat, then I can understand the attraction.

Moose said...

Not unlike your continual 'men in shorts' postings...

Fred Drinkwater said...

CStanley: There are no kangaroos in Australia. I spent 10 days travelling between Daintree and Sydney, with several long westerly sidetrips, and saw nary a single one.
There are, however, a truly enormous number of seasnakes in the Barrier Reef channel.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Maybe this shows Jonah is elite and sophisticated, that he can look at something he finds, with his brilliant mind, mundane, while Other folks look at the same thing and find it interesting.

I wonder what Jonah thinks about a pencil?

Milt Friedman thought something more than "pencil," which is what Jonah shows us he would think, proudly and with casual arrogance.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4ERbC7JyCfU

"Everything...infinite..."

Or perhaps Jonah is so consumed by politics and Internet memes that the "Squirrel!" signifier for red-herrings makes him feel it appropriate to stay focused on things other than squirrelly distractions, even literal squirrels?

In any event, I wonder what Jonah thinks of Caddyshack or The Big Lebowski if he finds tourists looking at squirrels hilarious?

Double ultra mega super dooper hilarious maybe?

What would he find me, someone who makes noises to interact with squirrels and indeed tries to play peak a boo with squirrels, even though I am at home and not touristing?

CWJ said...

We saw some Canadian geese in the Krakow Zoo. Laughed when we realized they were actually on exhibit. No raccoons though.

CWJ said...

Our Macedonian daughter was really fascinated by the squirrels during her year with us.

Coconuss Network said...

Visited my homeland of Chicago from Germany. Was thrilled to see a squirrel. As well a rabbit hopping in my parents backyard. They're so cute. Lil creatures. Makes me think of my fur baby.

Coupe said...
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Coupe said...
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The Cracker Emcee said...

Like the German dude at Yellowstone holding up traffic for a mile so he could take a picture of a freakin' elk.

traditionalguy said...

Sparrows are my favorite. Uou can't tell one from another which makes them humble.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Friends were hosting German travelers. Every time the saw a deer, a hawk, a coyote, a squirrel, a Possum or a turtle, they went into paroxysms of joy. "You have so much exotic wildlife here! They're just sitting by the road or walking in the fields!"

Apparently there aren't many random roaming animals in Europe?

Roughcoat said...

Evanston, a suburb bordering Chicago on the north, has black squirrels. I've never seen these squirrels anywhere else. Does anyone else have them in their towns?

Roughcoat said...
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Roughcoat said...

Also ... I live in a western suburb of Chicago, La Grange Park. We have forest preserves all over the place and hoo-boy do we have a lot of wildlife. Deer, coyotes, possums, racoons, foxes (a family of red foxes lives somewhere near our house), squirrels, chipmunks, porcupines, beavers and some species of furry critter that I haven't identified. There have been confirmed sightings of wolves and mountain lions and actual wildcats (not feral house cats) in the farmland just a few miles to the west. Plus hawks, owls, and eagles. It's getting to be a jungle out here! Best thing about having all these four-legged predators and raptors is, there are no rats and few mice.

Didja know that there coyotes living within the Chicago city limits. There are several known family groups, with dens identified in one of the northside cemeteries and in Lincoln Park. The individual coyotes have been tagged and their movements tracked: the city encourages their presence because they feed almost exclusively on rats, which is part of the reason Chicago has one of the smallest rat populations for a city of its size.

Tina848 said...

I live in suburban Philly. We have more deer per square mile than people in some places. The tourists are just amazed by them. We consider them rats with antlers that carry Lyme disease, destroy your landscaping and increase our insurance rates. Any bow hunters out there...do I have an offer for you!!!!

buwaya puti said...

There are black squirrels in San Mateo CA, we used to see them in the city park there.
San Francisco also has coyotes.

Mary Martha said...

I knew that I was really homesick and traveling too long when I went to the Berlin Zoo and looked at the raccoons on display with warmth in my heart.

I live just east of Roughcoat (Brookfield) and one of the problems the zoo has here is the number of wild animals outside the cages. For example, when red fox make their homes on the zoo property outside of the enclosures. It's a real conundrum for the zookeepers. They love animals, but don't want wild animals wandering around.

The black squirrels are an expression of a recessive genetic trait. Kind of like the white squirrels in Olney IL. You can find a few black squirrels most anywhere if you are looking for them.

kcom said...

There are black squirrels around my parents' house northeast of Detroit. But I would say they only first appeared in the last five or ten years.

Fritz said...

The other day I was driving through the neighborhood, and there was a deer in someone's front yard, and a woman walking a pretty big dog was trying to get past it. It stared at them, but refused to budge. We have a lot of deer here. Our hostas are mowed to ground if they're not behind a fence, and they seem to do topiary with our Euonymus. Squirrels are a nuisance too, in the garden and at the bird feeder. I saw a Red Fox walk between our house and the next last week in the early morning. He took note of me and resolved to go by earlier next time. Coyotes are supposed to be here, but I haven't seen them or heard them. We have beavers and otters if you know where to look. Blue-Tailed Skinks abound. Copperheads, Black Snakes, Garter Snakes, Ring Necked Snakes are around. A friend got bit by a Copperhead. Note: Don't try to pick up a severed head.

Bald Eagles hang the beach around all year, while the Ospreys come and go (they're getting ready to leave). The Bald Eagles would rather steal from Ospreys than hunt, but they'll take carrion in the off season.

The Smithsonian imported Black Squirrels from Canada to D.C. way back when they thought moving stuff around was cool. They're just a dark version of the Eastern Gray Squirrel, so the genes are still rattling around the area. We also had them out in Edgewater where the Smithsonian had a field lab.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/squirrel-week-where-did-dcs-black-squirrels-come-from-blame-canada/2011/03/30/AFgnPaHC_story.html

kcom said...

They seem to be replacing the gray squirrels that themselves replaced the red squirrels several decades ago, although I think the black squirrels are just a variety of the gray squirrels.

kcom said...

"You have so much exotic wildlife here!"

Wait until they get a load of an armadillo.

rcocean said...

Life is very good for the Goldberg family. I've noticed that a lot of media people are now taking vacations in Denmark. I wonder why? Is this the new real estate hot spot for our global elite?

rcocean said...

You can see why jonah hates trump. It must be nice getting paid a lot to write columns on squirrels and still be a respected member of the power elite. What rock the boat?

Roughcoat said...

Mary Martha,

I used to live in Brookfield, on Park. I was a "charter member" of the Irish Times and the southside Irish "gang" that opened the place. Friends with the owner, etc. Sitting around after hours singing rebel songs. Member of St. Francis Xavier Parrish (still). Those were some times. Nice town.

C Stanley said...

There were black squirrels on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge back in the 80s but I don't know if they persist. They were pretty!

The squirrels in Arkansas are huge compared to ours in Georgia.

Carnifex said...

My dad has a black squirrel mounted that he shot here in Kentucky. its the only one I've ever seen or heard of, though Louisville Bellarmine campus is noted to have lots of white squirrels. Some albino but most throwbacks to the ice age. Seen a couple of white deer also.

At the Vero Beach City Chamber of Commerce Park, there is a colony of rabbits. Right there on the beach! Its amusing to watch hundreds of people walk by and not even see them because they don't expect to see rabbits at the beach. I'll point them out to children and old people. The young don't care.

The wildlife in Europe is fixing to get scarcer with the importation of starving savages.

CWJ said...

The University of Toronto canpus is awash in black squirrels.

kcom said...

I have fond childhood memories of the red ones. I miss them. My grandmother had one she called Erma around her house that would take peanuts out of your hand. For a kid, that's good stuff.

Freeman Hunt said...

We watched a movie semi-recently that showed the inside of a rich guy's place that had all sorts of stuffed, exotic animals. A bear, a zebra, a lion, animals like that. In the midst of them was a white-tailed deer.

"What is that doing there?"

But then I remembered that the setting was some far off place. There a deer was exotic, not like here where it is an obstacle for automobiles and a ruiner of gardens.