Got a spare 5 minutes to help us improve our website? Take this survey.

Outside Online Archives

Dispatches, April 1997

All Things Cuddly and Carnivorous

By Joe Helgerson

File this under the category "Further Proof That Many Americans Don't Get Out Enough." It seems that wilderness-starved metropolitans have begun lavishing attention on those few beleaguered woodland creatures that--forced out of their habitats by the onslaught of suburbia--have unwittingly wandered into the big city. Some have been adopted as touchstones of civic pride, fawned over like the local baseball team's mascot or that unctuous weatherman on the six o'clock news. Herewith, four sharp-toothed cases in point.

New York
Four-Legged Celeb: "Wiley" the coyote
Debut: Found communing with the spirits of Irving Berlin, Miles Davis, and Herman Melville in Woodlawn Cemetery
Career Trajectory: After gaining mention on The Late Show with David Letterman--"New York: We've Got Coyotes"--Wiley was nursed by the city's Parks Department until strong enough to be relocated to a park in Westchester County.

Minneapolis-St. Paul
Four-Legged Celeb: Cougar that, in the tradition of another famous Twin Cities entertainer, goes simply by "The Mountain Lion"
Debut: Spotted prowling in the backyard of Bob Burlingame, mayor of suburban Maple Grove
Career Trajectory: Becoming more enigmatic by the day, The Mountain Lion has made five other appearances in recent months while continuing to elude animal-control authorities. Now contemplating forgoing name in favor of a symbol.

Four-Legged Celeb: "Lucy" the moose
Debut: Gained renown while summering on the streets of the city's fashionable Chestnut Hill area
Career Trajectory: Alas, Lucy's moment in the spotlight was short-lived--she died in the parking lot of an Albany, New York, motel while being trucked to the Milwaukee Zoo.

Four-Legged Celeb: "Imelda" the alligator
Debut: Discovered window-shopping at a local mall
Career Trajectory: The sky's the limit for this tenacious starlet: After being tagged and released into the Everglades, Imelda dealt with the setback by waddling 23 miles back to the selfsame shopping center.

More Culture