Nutria Get a Makeover

A fabulous little artistic surprise showed up in my inbox this morning. A writer friend (Eric Jay Dolin - total pro historian & writer of book-length tales) forwarded the link from the NYTimes because his last book gets featured prominently in the resulting video. The animator/writer of the actual video (Drew Christie - maker of all sorts of amazing creative goodness) lives here in Seattle. The subject of the video is the often maligned nutria. They're tough furry buggers to love. Nutria decimate the vegetation along the shoreline of various bodies of water, leading to erosion and general environmental sadness. So they've had bounties placed on their fugly little heads as an unworthy "invasive species" for years. I've been intrigued for years by the various origin stories of how this South American rat with its distinctive orange teeth ended up scattered all over. The basic rundown (also described by Christie in this animated story from his own family's lore) usually ties in some overly excited agribusiness folks who couldn't handle what they bought. Nutria, as the story goes, enjoyed a period of being touted as the next big thing for furry fashion. Oddly enough, even today's fashion hasn't abandoned the idea of using nutria. In fact, some folks are astonishingly creative when it comes to using them, while trying to rebrand the "use" of nutria as good for the environment. But that's a whole other distillation of the nutria debate featured in this animation. I highly recommend y'all check out Drew Christie's fresh, fantastic video featuring a downright lovable nutria, duly educated by Eric Jay Dolin's book (Fur, Fashion, Empire - W.W. Norton 2010). Kid friendly, to boot.