Mrs. Sip and I recently returned from a month-long journey to southern Africa and were completely enamoured with the animals the continent is famous for. We also have a fondness for Amarula Cream, a liqueur from South Africa that takes Bailey’s and other Irish crème’s to task. Today, we enjoy Amarula Gold (the Cream’s golden cousin), while looking at the greatest pop culture examples of the creatures we enjoyed during our travels:
One of the most famous lions is known simply for his iconic roar, seen at the start of MGM movies. Leo is still introducing viewers to films to this day. The lion has also been adopted as the logo for two different football teams, the Detroit Lions (NFL) and my hometown BC Lions (CFL). That’s interesting because while lions are fierce hunters, they’re also incredibly lazy. In the media world, there are notable lions in Simba, Mufasa, and Scar from The Lion King, as well as Aslan (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) and the Cowardly Lion (The Wizard of Oz).
There aren’t really any fictional buffalos to choose from, but there is the city of Buffalo, New York, which is home to such teams as the Sabres (NHL), and Bills (NFL). There’s also the Order of the Water Buffalo, with such dignified members as Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble. Lastly, one can also include Buffalo Bill, the deranged serial killer from Silence of the Lambs… on second thought, maybe he should be left off the list.
The horned beasts seem to be the perfect animal for animated antagonists. This can be seen with one of Spiderman’s greatest foes, Rhino, as well as Rocksteady from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. If we are to use the characters as examples of how rhinos are viewed by animators, then they’re certainly not the brightest individuals. Lastly, pro wrestler Terry Gerin, adopted the name Rhino (later changed to Rhyno, because actual rhinos love suing over intellectual property rights!), when he debuted with Extreme Championship Wrestling in 1999. Sadly, rhinos are rapidly decreasing in population, with poachers seeking their valuable horns, to be used for sexual potency.
Like lions, elephants have factored into a lot of media. One of Disney’s most cherished characters is that of Dumbo, the flying elephant. There’s also Babar; Dr. Seuss’s Horton (who heard a Who); Bart Simpson’s brief pet, Stampy; and Big Bird’s imaginary friend Snuffleupagus. Another fan favourite is Elephant Ears donuts, because there’s never a bad donut and these cinnamon-sugar sprinkled gems are no exception.
Famous leopards are about as rare as spotting the cat in the wild. The leopard is the only major African animal that we didn’t see on our recent vacation and our guide told us in all his years of taking tourists through Africa, he’s only seen a handful, himself. The only notable leopard that came to mind was Bagheera from The Jungle Book. His protective ways ensured young Mowgli’s survival in the wild.
Youngsters today may not know about Geoffrey, the Toys R’ Us mascot, but he played a huge role in my childhood. He made many of the children from my generation want to be a Toys R’ Us kid! Originally named Dr. G. Raffe, the spokesanimal has been with the company since 1957.
The board game Hungry Hungry Hippos painted a lighter image on these dangerous beasts, who are known to charge at the boats of tourists for no other reason than because they feel like it. Despite their antagonistic nature, there is still the classic Christmas song “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”. Perhaps the little girl making the request just didn’t know any better.
Perhaps the most famous crocodile is Tick-Tock, the tormentor of Capt. James Hook and the beast that took the pirate’s hand. Crocodiles are often depicted as bad guys. This includes Killer Croc, a frequent nemesis of Batman; King K. Rool, the thorn in the side of Donkey Kong and his extended family; and the Fraternity of Crocodiles, from the comic Pearls Before Swine, who are often in pursuit of zebras (or zeebas as the frat calls them), despite their minimal intelligence.
Zebras: Fruit Stripe Zebra – Given the gum’s appearance, it was natural that Fruit Stripe would adopt a Zebra as its mascot
Cheetahs: I’ve enjoyed the recent Cheetos commercials starring Chester Cheetah, as he helps snackers get their share of the cheese-flavoured grub
Meerkats: In the real world, there was the popular Meerkat Manor nature series… in animation, we of course had Timon from The Lion King
Warthog: Speaking of Timon, you can’t forget his buddy Pumbaa… and just like the previously mentioned Rocksteady took after a rhino, his thug pal Bebop was mutated from a warthog
Hyenas: One last time we go back to The Lion King, with this pack of cackling baddies: Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed
Flavour Revolution: Golden Apple
- 1.5 oz Amarula Gold
- Top with Apple Juice
- Splash of Sour Apple Mixer
- Garnish with an Apple Slice
Many of these animals comprise the Big 5 (lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos, and rhinos), placed in that group because of their difficulty in hunting. There are also a Small 5 (elephant shrew, buffalo weaver, leopard tortoise, ant lion, rhino beetle), based on miniature versions of the Big 5, as well as an Ugly 5 (warthog, hyena, marabou stork, vulture, and wildebeest), which is kind of self-explanatory.