Politicized Animals

party symbols 03 resizeThe animal kingdom is largely apolitical. But there have been some animals politicized against their will. Most famous among them are the symbols of today’s two major American political parties.

Political cartoonist Thomas Nast is responsible for popularizing the elephant and jackass as symbols of the Republican and Democratic parties respectively.

Thomas Nast
Thomas Nast

The jackass was the first to be used as the mascot of a political party. During the 1828 presidential campaign opponents of Andrew Jackson grew fond of referring to him as a jackass. Jackson embraced the name and began using a jackass on his campaign posters. Nast quickly took hold of it and used it in cartoons to symbolize the Democrats.

In 1874 Nast published a cartoon showing a donkey dressed as a lion scaring all of the other animals in the forest,except for the elephant, which bore the label “the Republican vote.” From then on the elephant has been used to represent the Republicans.

tammany tiger 01Nast also used the tiger to depict the corrupt Tammany Hall of New York City in the 1870s. The Tammany Tiger was often used in cartoons dealing with Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall.

Here at Apolitical Primate we frown upon the exploitation of animals in any form for any political reason.

elephant 01 jackass 01 tiger glaring

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