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Today's Weird Animal is...
Rhino + Wyrm.jpg
Rhino + Wyrm.jpg

A wyrm is a wingless, legless dragon; basically, an oversized serpent. Legend varies per culture, as wyrms are from European mythology as a whole, but here’s the Icelandic version:

In one nineteenth-century folktale, a girl is given a gold ring by her mom, who instructs her to place a black slug known as a heath-worm on top of it—y’know, in the name of good luck and fortune. The superstition works too well. In a matter of days, both the heath-worm and the treasure grow so large that the slug breaks the linen chest it was placed on top of. Scared, the girl hurls the chest into a lake, where the monster grows and grows and terrorizes the community. People try to retrieve the sunken treasure but fail.

Even though a rhino horn is made of keratin, which is the same material as our hair, it’s worth more than gold. Why? Superstition. Various Asian cultures believe that the horn has medicinal value, even though science has proven it has none. Between 1970 and 1990, poachers killed 96 percent of black rhinos—not out of sheer evil, but to support their families.

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

 

Don’t buy rhino horn. Don’t buy ivory and avoid faux ivory, too. The problem is perceived value. If rhino horns are no longer viewed as valuable status symbols, fewer people will buy them, and fewer rhinos will die.

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