You can tell a lot about a country by its national animal. The United States uses the bald eagle: a large bird of prey. The United Kingdom has a lion: an imposing carnivore. China has a dragon, Germany has an eagle, India has a Bengal tiger, Italy has a wolf. All of these animals are strong, proud and majestic. They are regal. They show the world that the country is question is large, grand and impressive.
Canada has a beaver.
Beavers are large rodents. Of course, they’re not the largest rodents. No, choosing the largest of a species would be very un-Canadian. No, beavers are the second-largest rodents in the world. They are very slow on land and they frighten easily. They would probably lose in a fight to any of the other national animals listed above.
Well, that’s not entirely true. Dragons are fictional. Even a beaver could beat up a fictional creature. It would be a close fight though.
However, what beavers lack in size, strength and imposing physical stature they make up in ingenuity.
A beaver dam is a pretty impressive structure. Beavers are hard workers and quite intelligent. The dams that they build are quite strong and beavers are able to build new dams or repair damaged ones quite quickly. Beavers work together with other beavers in order to build their dams.
Small, hard working, social and intelligent?
Yes, it makes sense that the beaver is Canada’s national animal.
Of course, those traits are not the reason why the beaver is the national animal. No, like many other great symbols, the beaver is a martyr. When the Europeans originally began settling Canada, the fur trade was very important. More often than not it was beaver pelts that were being traded.
That’s right, it was in death that the beaver became the symbol of Canada.
The conversation that decided this designation must have been completely bizarre:
“So… this country needs a national animal.”
“Hmm… you know that little annoying rodent we’ve been killing for a while now? How about that?”
“Works for me! Well, now that we’re done with that, let’s play hockey.”
And thus, with that ridiculous conversation, the beaver was given its iconic status.
Yes, that conversation is pretty much verbatim.