by Hunter Abbey
A wave of support has arisen in the waning days of the 2009 legislative session to designate the spider monkey as the State Barrier Island Non-indigenous Mammal. Although some are calling this move an underhanded attempt to distract voters and the media from the budget crisis and a general lack of progress made during the session, others are championing what they call a wise move of “pre-emptive conflict resolution.”
“This year we witnessed a battle of epic proportions waged between the State Ports Authority (SPA) and students from Alice Drive Elementary School as they fought to name the State Marine Mammal. Leaders in the General Assembly have learned from this experience,” explains Senate Pro-tem Glen McConnell.
Just days after this group of school children announced their intention to have the North Atlantic right whale named as the State Marine Mammal, the SPA made it known they had other ideas.
“Whales are just so cliché,” said SPA spokesman Brian Swiller. “The bottlenose dolphin has a great personality and we feel it will represent our state well in the years to come. We just couldn’t bear having our grandchildren look back on this decision with shame.”
With port container traffic down and port expansion being delayed due to unforeseen obstacles, the SPA has had plenty of time to dwell on the perfect marine mammal. Many a board meeting was spent discussing the pros and cons of various species, but in the end the bottlenose dolphin won out.
“The manatee was seriously considered, but the fact that they are also known as sea cows finally knocked them out of contention. That nickname conjures images of fat mermaids.”
Jan Thompson, a teacher at Alice Drive Elementary, was surprised by the controversy this school project generated. “We didn’t anticipate there being any opposition. I guess we thought there were more important issues facing the state and this wouldn’t cause any problems.”
“Basically they thought they could sneak this past the SPA and the General Assembly,” said House Speaker Bobby Harrell. “But we’re on to their tactics now. We’re pushing this spider monkey nomination through without delay and by next session we’ll have a whole list of state animals and symbols ready for approval so we avoid these lame nominations in the future.”
Ultimately, a compromise was reached with the bottlenose dolphin capturing the State Marine Mammal designation and the right whale designated as the State Migratory Marine Mammal.
“Those clever little bastards kept us on our toes,” admitted Swiller. “But in the end we showed them who runs this state.”
In related news, a last-minute push to designate the “Maersk” as the state endangered ocean-going vessel fell short. The Legislature is expected to debate designating a state marsupial next session.