My Life with Chimeras

The liger, the unicorn, the mermaid, and the hippogriff: pop culture loves perpetuating the images of these chimeras. I, as a child inundated with picture books and flashing images on the television, frequently witnessed these creatures in my day-to-day. These four characters are the stand out chimeras of my adolescence, and each has a unique characterization with which I am unable to unbind the species from. Like every person, each creature has imbedded itself within me through my interactions with film, television and literature. So, because you’re interested, here’s my breakdown of the chimeras that mean the most to me and why.

1.The Mermaid:

The mermaid is my hands down favorite mythical creature, regardless of the fact that it’s a chimera. Mermaids have the best of both worlds- you can have whales and fish as friends, rule the ocean, but still have the attractive top of a human without ever having to worry that eating too much kelp will make your thighs look fat. Furthermore, if you were swimming around that much your legs would probably be jacked, which completely morphs the image of Ariel from the fluid and ethereal princess to a swollen Michael Phelps with long red hair and a sea-shell bra.

Mermaids have been presented heavily in popular fiction in many different lights through many forms of media. Often the main characters in films such as Splash, The Little Mermaid and Peter Pan, mermaids are portrayed as the beautiful, ditzy creatures desperate for the aid of men to help them accomplish their goal. In such films as Peter Pan, mermaids, too, are seductive vixens luring wary sailors into their trap. Either way, the Mermaid gets what she wants, and usually pretty easily. And they can sing. Not a bad life in my opinion.

2. The Unicorn:

What girl has not always wanted a unicorn as their best friend? OK, a My Little Pony is a second-runner up and then maybe a Pegasus, but either way—a horse with a HORN! I don’t actually know what is so cool about this chimera, it may be that they’re always depicted with rainbow hair, but something intangible makes this chimera the utmost of companions for the dreaming little girl.

Furthermore, the unicorn pervaded my older life as well, with Charlie the Unicorn being portrayed in the YouTube Sensation Charlie the Unicorn.  This was the first time in my life that I had ever seen a unicorn used for humor, particularly bizarre and eccentric in this case. While I still prefer the unicorn of my childhood dreams, I can’t deny that Charlie the Unicorn has given my friends and I countless laughs (as well as the rest of the world saying as it has reached a staggering 62,174,159 hits).

3. The Hippogriff:

I am a fervent Harry Potter fan; you are hard pressed to find a larger fan of the books than I. The Hippogriff is a chimera within a chimera in that it is part gryphon and part mare. However, a gryphon is an animal with the body of the lion and the head and wings of an eagle. So, pretty much, the hippogriff is a mean animal when it comes to the food chain. I’d be scared to confront one in a dark alley.

Buckbeak, later renamed Witherwings, is Harry and Sirius’s dear friend and mode of transport throughout many of the books, and shows the millions of readers the importance of animal rights. If Dumbledore doesn’t support the execution of animals for personal reasons, well by golly I’m not going to either.

So, not only did I grow up imagining myself soaring through the clouds gripping to the feathery notch that exists between wing and trunk, I also learned about respecting non human creatures through the use of the hippogriff.

4. The Liger:

            Last, but not least, the chimera that came into my knowledge the latest is the liger. In 2004, with the release of the peculiar film “Napoleon Dynamite,” came the inception of the liger.Napoleon was a truly unique character who drew fantastic creatures in his own time. As the film swept the country with its curious oddities, I too was taken by storm with the idiosyncratic ideas of the main character. However, I was truly alarmed when I found out that this liger was not only a figment of Napoleon’s imagination- it truly existed.

            While the liger (part tiger/part lion) does not have a female face and spiky spine and tail, it still manages to thoroughly freak me out. While it lacks the human-like qualities of Moreau’s creations, they do have the fear-factor of the beasts. The Guinness Book of World Records has the longest living liger recorded at 18 years old, with a weight of 1,759 pounds, which is around the weight of a Smartcar. Ligers tend to grow for a much longer period of time than the regular tiger or lion, and grow to be massively large.

In 2008, a liger in an Oklahoma zoo murdered its owner during a feeding. While I’m sure this would happen with any tiger or lion, it didn’t, it happened with a liger, and from that I should take that chimeras are a dangerous breed to create. While I have grown up with these creatures, the only one I would not want to have an actual encounter with is the one that is actually real- and maybe that’s for a reason.

Perhaps these creatures are so fantastic because they are indeed fantasies, and perhaps, as seen in the case of the liger, they should stay that way. While I dream of being a mermaid on a daily basis, I would not be OK with someone cutting my legs off and replacing them with a tail.

Siobhan C.


~ by siobhangcoad on February 24, 2012.

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