USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Animal urban legends’
Legends

The Albino Squirrel

Text: RB: So, squirrels are kind of famous on the UT campus because they try to get as close to you as possible, they will eat out of your hands, and stop in front of cars and dare people to run them over. Basically they are so used to people that they’ve gone crazy. But there is one albino squirrel, the only one in all of UT. And if you see the albino squirrel right before you take a test, you’re gonna get 100% on that test. Or if you see it right before finals week, you’ll pass all your finals.

AT: Have you ever seen this squirrel?

RB: I’ve never seen the squirrel. It’s really sad.

Context: RB is a freshman at the University of Texas studying aerospace engineering. During orientation, she heard a lot of folklore about the campus, including the piece above. The stories told to her at orientation continue to be confirmed and retold during interactions with current students. The interaction above took place in a living room while we were both home for spring break from our respective universities, swapping campus legends.

Interpretation: This legend is interesting because is encompasses a lot of possible distinctions that exist when examining legends. For one, the albino squirrel itself is a legendary creature that serves as an omen of good fortune and engages with themes of luck. Also, the legend described above can be categorized as a local legend, for it is situated in one spot; the University of Texas at Austin’s campus. Additionally, though the legend is still a legend in that its truth value remains questionable, (the effectiveness of said squirrel sighting can not be confirmed by the informant) the existence of an albino squirrel in a place famous for the propagation of squirrels does not seem too far-fetched.

I also find it interesting that the folk beliefs associated with this legend/legendary creature correlate so strongly with things related to specifically college campuses such as good grades and squirrels. UT serves as the perfect breeding ground for this legend, regardless of whether or not if it is backed up by actual sightings. It would be very easy to believe. Lastly, the use of magic is often employed in situations where people feel a lack of control. The fact that merely laying eyes of this squirrel will magically gift you with an A+ seems fitting in situations that involve test taking, where students often experience the sensation of a lack of control over their future.

Legends

Son of a Pink Dolphin

The following Brazilian urban legend was performed over coffee on April 23rd, 2019. According to the informant, in Brazil if you don’t know who the dad of a child is, “you say the dad is a pink dolphin, like the amazon pink dolphin.” The urban legend states that “every full moon the pink dolphin would hop out of the water and turn into a handsome man in an all white suit,” complete with a hat to “hide his blowhole.” He would then seduce women, impregnate them, and disappear back into the water “cuz he’s a dolphin.”

When asked where the informant first heard of this tale, she replied that it’s a very common legend in Brazil. “You hear it everywhere: children’s books and music are big ones.It was also a way for parents to gossip about “bastard” children in front of their own children. “That’s a pink dolphin kid”, meaning no one knows who the dad is. “I’ve always remembered it because it’s just so funny and random. It makes me laugh that my dad still uses it.”

This urban legend could exist as a way to explain absent fathers to children. The childlike details allow for widespread use in entertainment AND let parents speak in code about adult topics around children.

For more information on Brazilian Pink Dolphin beliefs, please visit:

Cravalho, Mark A. “Shameless Creatures: An Ethnozoology of the Amazon River Dolphin.” Ethnology, vol. 38, no. 1, 1999, pp. 47–58. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3774086.
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