So, being a “Life and Science” Museum not only do we have the pleasure of having our own animal collection that we get to work (and play) with, but we also have the added bonus of a large outdoor campus with all kinds of fun wildlife as well. Sometimes we get to see groundhogs, sometimes snakes, and once in a while a brand new species wanders into out midst that completely blows our minds. This weekend, it happened again. We were visited by a species previously unknown to science. And now, my readers is the first ever account of it anywhere. It is my glad pleasure to acquaint you with the “Pegaphant”. This unique species combines both the characteristics of a normal elephant and the mythological Pegasus from ancient lore. It truly is a masterpiece of evolution. Or is it…?
The true story behind the Pegaphant, is actually that of well meaning, and enrichment for our animals. Every so often one of our enrichment tasks is to make up a fake sheep out of cardboard, wool, and anything else fun that our animals may enjoy. These will be introduced in with the bears or the wolves to play with, eat and destroy as they see fit. They may have treats added to them, real hair or wool, and possibly even scent sprayed on to increase just how interesting the fake sheep would seem to our critters. Generally they do not last very long.
As for the Pegaphant, it all started with that noble and well-intentioned idea. Little did we know that in the wrong hands, that power could turn so terribly for the worse… You see the Animal Dept currently has two interns. Casey and Jessica. Who have been nothing but wonderful, helpful and so sweet you might need an insulin shot. They love the animals and are great at their jobs. Who would’ve known they were actually evil genetic scientists in disguise? When asked to tackle the “fake sheep” project, none of us thought to question their abilities or motives. It was only when it was too late that we realized the tradgedy that had befallen the genetic community. It seems that either our interns are exceptionally skilled animal keepers and able to bypass the species barrier and successfully breed and elephant and a Pegasus, OR (and this is my opinion) they are in truth completely mad genetic scientists with a more dangerous plan than the original Jurassic Park had. And sadly, with less Dinosaurs.
From what I can gather from the photos of the Pegaphant, it was sired from an African elephant. Notice the large ears and robust trunk with bristling at the tip. These are definitely traits of the African variety as opposed to the Asian elephant which has smaller ears and a trunk tip with one “finger-like” tip as opposed to two in the Africans. As for the other half of it’s genetic parentage, it most likely is comprised from a classic Greek Pegasus, as opposed to the winged Unicorn of fantasy lore that it is sometimes confused with. This delineation is easily seen from a lack of horn in our specimen, and also in the stockier stature which the classic Pegasus possesses being a fierce fighter and adversary in Greek mythology.
The Pegaphant was destined to be introduced in with the bears and may have put up a worthy fight. But ultimately, it’s destiny was sealed and the only one of it’s kind was no more. I’m sure that our evil geneticists will be hard at work developing new species to impress and terrify us. It’ll be like a demented Wuzzles episode over here in the near future. 🙂