The Carnival of the (National Park) Animals

These short poems were crafted to accompany the Cape Symphony Orchestra's performance of the Camille Saint-Saëns piece, The Carnival of the Animals, during the National Park Service Centennial event at Cape Cod National Seashore on August 25, 2016. The original species selected by Saint-Saëns were replaced by animals found in national parks, and the traditional introductions penned by Ogden Nash were traded for these written by Sue Moynihan.

Sound the trumpets, and ring the bells
As we celebrate near sand and shells
100 years our park system's existed
And all their animals we have listed

From coast to coast, some are species rare
But with conservation, they're here to share.
So as our friend Ogden says with grins,
Here's our salute to feathers, furs and fins!

The Big Cats Puma concolor
Whether puma, cougar, or mountain lion,
This king of cats rules the west.
In Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Zion,
Its roar is by far the best.

Domestic Chicken Gallus gallus domesticus
What's that sound? Is that a chicken I heard?
Some historical parks boast domestic birds.
Visit the homesteader or farmer, see their cultural ways.
Catch a glimpse of our nation's earlier days.

The Pronghorn Antilocapra Americana
Through Wind Cave park the pronghorn bounds.
Grasses rustle, but no human sounds.
With lungs, heart, and toes built for speed,
In the animal Olympics he'd be top seed.

The Diamondback Terrapin Malaclemys terrapin and Eastern Box Turtle Terrapene Carolina
Carolina Diamondback terrapin, Eastern box
are turtles Cape scientists carefully watch.
Threatened, we can't let them go extinct.
Conserve habitat! Pull them back from the brink.

The American Bison Bison bison
American bison, our national mammal
Native people's most revered western animal
Yellowstone's and our nation's charismatic megafauna
See the park ranger's patch? The bison is on it!

The Jumping Mouse Napaeozapus Insignis
The Great Smokies' jumping mouse is underrated.
Its long jump talent can't be overstated.
Just 7 inches long, its name means "woods" and "big strong feet."
Watch! Nine feet in just one leap!

The Coral Reef
Twist the kaleidoscope any way you wish.
No man-made colors can match these fish!
Angels, blue tangs, butterflies, morays
Virgin Islands' reefs--underwater Monets.

The Mules—Pack Animals Equus asinus × Equus caballus
Have you climbed a high trail in a western park?
That terrain! These trails are works of art.
Hard labor for guys and gals with tools,
And their 4-legged helpers? Of course, it's the mules!

The Black-Billed Cuckoo Coccyzus erythropthalmus
What came first—cuckoo clock? Cuckoo bird?
It's a cuckoo question, a debate--absurd!
The bird? Slim body, long tail…broad curved bill,
Devours a hundred hairy caterpillars in just one meal.

Nature's Aviary—the Dawn Chorus
Across this great land through all time before us.
Our days have been brightened by the birds' dawn chorus.
These avian neighbors trill, call, and plea:
"Our every voice means diversity."

Pianists—Pianists (Practicus Avoidus) (by Ogden Nash)
Never seen, but sometimes heard
Rarer than the Dodo Bird,
Pianists practice in the dead of night
Trying to fix things and get them right

They pound through Czerny, Hannon and scales.
Slower the better, if everything fails.
They work through pain and lots of tears,
Especially for those who have two ears.

The Fossils
If size and age are important to you,
You won't find MY kind within a zoo.
Fossils of diplo and stegosaur
Are YOURS at Utah's Dinosaur.

The Trumpeter Swan Cygnus buccinator
Glacier Park's trumpeter swan is elegant, its call is deep, loud, and resonant.
7' wings, 4' tall, it's the largest waterbird of them all.
Once hunted for feathers for fine ladies' hats,
These mate-for-life birds have made a comeback.

Our animal orchestra's nearing its end.
Single sounds are majestic, but we value the blend.
For when heard all together, the message is clear.
Variety, diversity are what we hold dear.

Parks are valued because they preserve
Native critters whose voices need to be heard
Expanses of land unimpaired for all time
Protect all living things, from the large to sublime.

For without the land, there would be no homes
For the mouse that jumps or the bison that roams.
Imagine a world without animal sound
Lifeless and dull, an impact profound.

As we look ahead to the next hundred years
Care for parks will pass to young hearts and young ears.
The more they listen in our revered park lands
The better the future will be in their hands.

NPS/Sue Moynihan

Last updated: September 14, 2016

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