The State Animal Of AlabamaSubmitted by Quartermain at 2012-04-25 21:38:30 EDT
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A lot of people don't know this, but the state animal of Alabama is a lot different from the state animals of pretty much every other state. Most other state animals are some sort of domestic critter found in or identified with that particular state, but Alabama's state animal isn't found in Alabama. It's not even found in North America. That's because Alabama's state animal is the African Elephant, and thereby hangs a tale...
Back in the waning years of the 19th century and the beginning of the twentieth, with television and movies still a distant thought in the minds of a few inventors, people relied of different things for their entertainment. People went to see vaudeville acts, and the circus, and things of that nature. There were several circus companies that used to tour the US, and they would divide the country into different territories, so everybody would get a piece of the pie.
There was one circus company that toured the south-eastern portion of the US and they needed a gimmick to draw in the crowds. Some kind of star attraction or personality or something they could make some money off of. So the ringmaster and owner of the circus, a man named George Sand, hit upon a scheme. He had worked for Phineas Barnum and knew that if you gave people something they had never seen before, they would beat a path to your door. So he imported some African Elephants to be the stars of his shows.
And it worked. People came from miles and miles to see these elephants. They were a state-wide phenomenon and ol' George raked in the money. For a time, anyways. People are fickle, though, and their attention shifts, and before long George was having to compete with new forms of entertainment, and other circuses, and he started having money trouble. The thing about elephants, is that elephants eat a lot, and George was having trouble finding money to feed them. Eventually his circus was forced to close, and George, in what might have been spite, turned the elephants loose to fend for themselves.
These elephants just wandered the Alabamian country-side and grazed on whatever they found. This had the effect (among others) of reviving interest in the elephants, and they became a sort of mascot for the area. No other state in the Union could boast that they had elephants among their various kinds of fauna. It wasn't long after this that the elephants got sickly and died, though. See, not only do African elephants apparently eat a lot, but they have a fairly specific diet, as well. And as great a country as America is, it's apparently not equipped to support elephants. Alabama's elephants eventually lost their teeth from dietary deficiencies and, not being able to eat, soon perished.
When the last elephant died, it was memorialized by the populace. Businesses were closed, newspapers took notice, and an actual funeral was held. The Governor issued an official proclamation, and even placed a initiative on the next ballot to change the name of one of Alabama's larger cities in memoriam. It passed almost unanimously, and the African elephants that perished from losing their teeth would be forever commemorated in the name of an Alabamian city.
Why, Tuscaloosa, of course.