What do kangaroos, pandas, lemurs and beavers all have in common? They’ve all made their countries famous! From official coats of arms to flags with animals on them to animals with religious significance, here are 8 furry or feathery creatures that are iconic and much loved by their fellow natives:
1. Kangaroos – Australia
In 1908 the kangaroo joined the emu on Australia’s first coat of arms, with both animals seen as representing progress due to their inability to walk backwards! The kangaroo became even further entrenched in Aussie culture via the popular television show ‘Skippy’ and to this day it is widely thought of as being an iconic Aussie animal.
2. Kiwi Birds – New Zealand
The Kiwi has long been considered sacred by New Zealand’s Maori people and in the late 19th century, it was first used on national badges of New Zealand military brigades. Today, this cute, flightless bird is endemic to the “land of the long white cloud” and if you’re a New Zealander, you can pretty much expect to be called a “kiwi!”
3. Bulls – Spain
In Australia, we think of them as “man cows”, but in Spain, bulls mean a whole lot more! Bulls have long been part of Spanish culture and history, with bullfighting and the spectacular (and scary!) ‘Running of the Bulls’ first taking place in the 14th Century. The Running of the Bulls in Pamplona is an iconic event in Spain and draws travellers each year from all over the world.
4. Lemurs – Madagascar
Madagascar 05/often be referred to as a beautiful and exotic island, but it’s definitely well known for its lemurs! Lemurs are an important part of Madagascar’s ecosystem and back in 1927, the Malagasy government passed legislation that granted all lemurs “protected” status. Of course, many of us will know about Madagascar thanks to the DreamWorks film of the same name or the John Cleese narrated documentary.
5. Giant Pandas – China
You can’t help but go, “awwww!” whenever you see a panda, right? Pandas have been part of Chinese culture for thousands of years and are considered a symbol of peace. The earliest recorded history of the panda in China comes during the Xi Hou Dynasty of 1134–256 BC, where a flag with a panda on it was used to call for a truce during battle. In today’s times, thousands of tourists flock to China’s reserves to get a glimpse of these endangered beauties.
6. Bald Eagle – USA
If you think of a bald eagle, you can only be in one place – America. The bald eagle has been the national emblem of the United States since 1782 and is considered a representation of freedom and strength. It has appeared on U.S. currency, can be found on logos of the Armed Forces and is featured on both the Presidential Flag and Seal.
7. Cows – India
The cow is considered sacred by many in India due to its close association with Hinduism. Among the earliest records relating to cows are those of the Vedic period (1500–900 BC), where they were referred to as symbols of wealth and were supposed to be treated in the same way you would treat your mother! Today, the cow is still considered sacred and many Indian and Hindu culture consider eating beef taboo.
8. Beavers – Canada
Much of early exploration in Canada revolved around the hunt and trade of beaver pelts and in 1678, the beaver appeared on the coat of arms of the influential Hudson’s Bay Company. In 1975, the beaver was designated as Canada’s national animal and it was even the mascot of the 1976 Montreal Olympics!