When political animals grow tiresome, turn to animals


I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the Politics & the Nation page on June 20 and found articles about cats and wildebeests instead of the usual fare. These articles, “Study: Long before they conquered Internet, cats took over the world” and “Wildebeest feast isn’t just for crocs,” provided 20 minutes of fascinating reading that provoked no feelings of anger or disgust at the goings-on on the national stage. Reading about the behavior of other species is much more edifying. Let’s have more of this!

Marita Dresner, Washington

The June 22 Politics & the Nation articleStudy scares mountain lions with political commentary” said mountain lions “are also known by some Californians as pumas.”

Having spent most of my life in California, from 1960 to 2010, I can say from personal experience that the majority of city-dwellers (and thus the majority of the state’s residents) call Puma concolor “cougars.” Many (but by no means all) people in rural communities prefer to call them “mountain lions,” but “cougar” is still a popular name for the big cats in those regions. But I have never once encountered, not in California nor my earlier home in Arizona, the name “puma.”

A wily beast that has colonized nearly every country in the Western Hemisphere, this feline perhaps has been given the largest number of local names of any mammal on Earth.

Gene Fellner, Rosedale

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