Tama, Fungie and Shrek

Singapore has the imaginary Merlion, a lion and fish hybrid proudly promoted by the nation state. Various Australian towns, both inland and on the coast, build large stone versions of their produce and products, ranging from sheep to mangoes and pineapples.

Symbols and icons, whether for geographical places, sporting clubs or military regiments, can unearth much of history, native culture, local fauna and sense of humour. They also serve as mascots when in the form of animals. Forexample, the state of Western Australia features a termite eating marsupial, the Numbat, which can remind one of a alternative rock Meerkat with a striped coat.

Stateside, Floridians in Palm Bay are proud of their Manatee, an ocean swimming cow like creature that is so unique. Bat viewing tourism is significant for Austin in Texas - these nocturnal creatures fly from nearby Mexico.

Seoul has the Haechi, an imaginary fire eating dog offering protection from disaster and representing upholding law and justice.

Ljubljana in Slovenia recalls the dragon killed by Jason of the Greek Argonauts fame. Venice has celebrated the winged lion, a side kick of Saint Marco.

Some mascots are alive and cherished as local celebrities. Hamish McHamish is the cool feline for Saint Andrews in Scotland. Wild parrots are adored at Telegraph Hill in San Francisco. Tama is the cat that saved the continuity of a Japanese railway station in Kinokawa village in the Wakayama region of Japan. 

Shrek the unshearable sheep in Tarras in Central Otago had avoided grooming by hiding for six years in a cave in New Zealand. He lived for sixteen years. Cute Knut was the beloved late polar bear at the Berlin Zoo.

Fungie is a 13 foot bottlenose dolphin who lives in Dingle Harbour in Ireland and is the star of boating tours. 

Patrick the Wombat is 30 years old and lives in Ballarat, Victoria Australia and acts as a well known ambassador for the Ballarat Wildlife Park. 

Which one is your favourite Olympic or Paralympic mascot? Misha from Moscow, the tiger cub from Seoul, the Yoggi from Innsbruck, the bald eagle from Los Angeles, the platypus from Sydney, the snowshoe hare from Salt Lake City, the sasquatch from Vancouver or Lyo and Merlo from Singapore?

Personally I like Hakon and Kristin, two kids from Norway who appeared at the Lillehammer Winter Olympics in 1994.


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