The Olympic Games and their Pets

In August 2012 the world’s eyes will be placed in London as take place the thirtieth Olympic Games of the modern era. In the same participate 10,500 athletes from 204 countries embracing thirty-nine disciplines.

Beyond the sports, the Olympics are the cultural and social opportunity that has an entire country to take it every corner of the planet. An undisputed symbol of these events are the Olympic mascots and many of them refer to emblematic animals or endangered  of the host country.

But not all Olympic Games have had an animal as a pet, some  have been childhood figures, as Athena and Phevos in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, futuristic figures as Wenlock and Mandeville in the London Olympics in 2012, or the forgotten oddity that represented Izzy in Atlanta  1996.

When it was chosen some of the species of wildlife as a pet, these have been representatives of the host country’s biological diversity, revealing the natural wealth of each country hosting the Olympics. Olympic Mascots appeared in 1972 when the German city of Munich hosted the games with a Dachshund.

In Beijing 2008, appeared the more recent animals as pets, when appeared a Panda, a Fish, a Tibetan antelope and a swallow. It also has displayed a beaver, a brown bear, a bald eagle, a couple of tigers, a dog, a kookaburra, a platypus and an echidna.

Here we will describe the animals that have been pets of the Olympic Games and their importance in biological diversity of the country or host region :
Fuwa (Beijing 2008): For this opportunity they chose five pets, four animals and the Olympic torch, representing the five elements of nature, sea, forest, fire, earth and the sky.

The animals chosen were the fish, which is a symbol of Chinese traditional crops, the Panda, which symbolizes the particular fauna of the country and the harmonious relationship between man and nature, the Tibetan Antelope, which represents the vast Chinese territory and the sustainability of the sporting event, and finally a Swallow, that is the messenger of spring and a symbol of hope, joy and good luck.

 Olly, Sid and Millie (Sydney 2000): For the Millennium Olympics were chosen three animals, a kookaburra, a platypus and an echidna. Olly is a pet that mimics a kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae) which is a typical bird of Australia, has feathers of many colors and very bright. It lives in the tops of the tallest trees of the country.

Millie has a shape similar to the echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus), typical animal of Australia very similar to hedgehogs. Syd is a platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus), an animal about the size of a rabbit but with large jaws that look like a beak.

It also created an unofficial mascot that became quite popular due to a television program: Fatso, the wombat (Vombatidae) family of marsupials and found only in Australia and Tasmania.

 Cobi (Barcelona 1992): Cobi was the mascot of the 1992 Olympic Games, created by Spanish designer Javier Mariscal. Represents a dog Cubist style, inspired by the Catalan Shepherd breed (gos d’atura). Its name is based on the initials of the Organizing Committee of the Barcelona Olympics (COOB -in spanish-).

Hodori and Hosuni (Seoul 1988): There were a couple of tigers (Panthera tigris), where the male figure was Hodori while Hosuni was the female figure. These animals are common in Korean traditional tales and legends and represented the friendly and hospitable traditions of the Korean people. Very little appeared together and only Hodori featured.

Sam (Los Angeles 1984): The Olympic Eagle, a bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), a national symbol of the United States. This species was nearly extinct in the U.S., but its population has stabilized.

Misha (Moscow 1980): Misha was a grizzly bear (Ursus arctos), national symbol of the Soviet Union. It is an animal characteristic of mature forests of Europe, temperate Asia and North America.

In this vast territory is under a number of subspecies, which differ from each other by the color and size to the point that once were regarded as independent species. It was so popular that a pet was also a symbol of other sporting events such as UEFA Champions League.

Amik (Montreal 1976): This pet is an animal emblematic of Canada: the beaver (Castor canadensis). The name of the mascot, “Amik”, just means beaver in the Algonquin Indian language, a region in northern Canada. Amik represented friendship, patience and hard work that helped the structure of Canada.

Waldi (Munich 1972): It was the first mascot of the Olympic Games and was characterized by its colorful since the head and tail were light blue and the body was made up of yellow and green stripes. The design was a model of Wiener Dog (Dachshund), typical of Bavaria.

Rafael Montilla Penaloza | ANCA24

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