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It seems however that American patriots really missed not having any slow-moving big bad beasts to ride or moth-eaten mammoths in rec-room to show off to inquisitive neighbors. In fact, so adoring were they of absent gargantuan, grumpy, four-footed mammal that they decided to give it a prominent political position in their country, as symbol of US Republican Party.
Speaking of elephants**, Abraham Lincoln certainly recognized virtue of having long, flexible-snouted folks as friends and allies, even if other side didn't. More importantly, he knew how to manage a herd of elephants in a democratic society. Never stand in front, behind or under them, and according to Abe, "When you have got an elephant by hind leg, and he is trying to run away, it’s best to let him run."
Of course, letting elephants run affairs of state had unintended consequence of fewer job opportunities for bonified politicians, pundits and policy analysts. That's why equal opportunity folks in America encouraged adoption of 'donkeys' as symbol of Democratic Party.
The best laid plans of pragmatists did not however appear to be working all that well. To top it all off, growing number of “white elephants” and "jackasses" everywhere began to cause a commotion. Something had to happen and fast!
The answer came in form of several delightful diversions. An ingenius circus promoter named P.T. Barnum found a way to make people laugh and make pots of moolah from likes of a great gallumping galoot named “Jumbo”. The tradition continued with a magical movie mogul named Walt Disney. He was man behind a fictional, flying elephant named “Dumbo”, a "Daffy Duck" and a mouse named "Mickey", not to mention profitable outdoor theme parks built to house all critters and mollify munchkin families.
While it's true that British author A.A. Milne created an elusive, honey-eating, flat-footed fictional character named “Heffalump” to keep Piglet and friends happy, thanks to invention of television and American edu-tainment industry, millions of tiny tots around globe will never forget “Sesame Street” and an unusual wooly mammoth named, “Aloysius Snuffleupgas”. Nor will they forget Dr. Seuss tale about "Horton", an endearing elephant, and incidentally only being on Earth who's aware of an entire civilization of wee folk living on a single dandelion.
So, if you think that elephants are an endangered species…you might want to think again. They seem to be alive and doing rather well in game preserves, zoos, theme parks, museums, books and television shows. And if you haven't had your fill of elephants, why not enjoy their starring role in a new Disney film, entitled "Pooh's Heffalump Movie", to be released on February 11, 2005.
(Note: Heffalump Hunters Beware – bagged beasts are simply not in cards for you next year, so stop whining and take up tiddlywinks or croquet! And for those who are valiantly trying to tell their family and friends about proverbial 'elephant in living room' -- they can't hear you -- they're too worried about a bull in china shop or what to wear for Halloween!)
**The importance of elephants should not be underestimated as revealed in famous last words of a U.S. Civil War general (one John Segwick), who learned his lesson hard way. In answer to his troops' urgings to take cover, he replied in a short-sighted if not stupefying manner, "They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist-."
Theolonius McTavish is an eccentric collector of odd facts and things that go bumpty bump bump bump in broad daylight. He also moonlights as a visiting wordpecker in the court of The Quipping Queen at www.quippingqueen.blogspot.com.