Throughout history, many animals found in Pittsburgh’s urban parks have made an impact on world culture that transcends geography. Snakes are found in the mythology and culture of dozens of countries around the world, from the North American Hopi people — where it is a beloved fertility symbol — to Egyptian and Nordic myths that hold serpents as symbols of chaos. Sometimes animals have both good and bad images within the same culture. The sleek fox appears as a positive force in Japanese mythology, often as the messenger of Inari, the god of rice, but it is also found in that country’s legends as a being that has the power to shape-shift into a deceitful witch.
One of the animals that appear most in culture and arts around the world is the owl. In Hindu culture, the owl is the transport vehicle of Lakshmi, the goddess of wisdom. Likewise in some islands of Indonesia, the owl is revered as wise, and the sounds they make give signals that it is safe — or not — to travel. The owls in Frick Park — and in Emerald View, Highland, Schenley, South Side and Riverview parks — are inevitably associated with these myths, and perhaps for good reason... Read the full article