Not all nations have official animals. Some have chosen mythical creatures that hold a lot of history or symbolic meaning, while others have picked real animals which just don't seem to fit in. 

Here, we take a look at 5 unusual animals from around the world: 

 

Scotland

Renowned for its love of myths and legends, it may not be a surprise to hear that Scotland’s national animal is a fictitious creature, a unicorn. Since as early as the 12th century, it has been used on Scottish coats of arms and can be spotted in many locations across the nation. For Scotland, the unicorn symbolizes many things, including innocence, purity, masculinity, and power. If you are wondering why the unicorn is often chained in Scotland, that is because a free unicorn was considered a dangerous beast according to legend.

 

Monaco

Perhaps that most unusual of all, Monaco has three national animals – the hedgehog, rabbit and wood mouse. We can’t see how these fit into the millionaire’s playground and why they were chosen remains unknown.

 

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Often referred to as the forest giraffe or zebra, and said to be the closest thing to a real-life unicorn, the national animal of Congo is the Okapi. Found in the rainforests in the northern, central and eastern parts, this beautiful animal was unknown to science until 1901 after being discovered by British explorer, Sir Henry Johnston. Like a giraffe, the Okapi has very large, upright ears and a long dark tongue. Having highly developed hearing, they pick up the slightest sounds making it very difficult to find them in the wild. 

 

Mauritius

It may have been extinct since 1681, but the dodo is still very much a large part of the island that it once inhabited. Not much is know about how this flightless bird evolved and thrived in isolation, yet, we do know it became extinct shortly after the arrival of humans and other meat-eating mammals.

 

Singapore

Singapore’s Merlion is another mythical creature, but it has great symbolic meaning to the country. A cross between a lion and a fish, it represents the original name, Singapura which means Lion City, as well as its humble beginnings as a small fishing village. A statue of the Merlion is situated near the waterfront at Marina Bay and is a must-see attraction. It’s worth mentioning that while some refer to the Merlion as the country's national animal, others say it is the national personification.

 

If you could choose the national animal of your home country, what would it be? 

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