It's an age-old question. It's also a silly one, if I'm being quite honest.
If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?
I don't recall exactly what made me think about what "kind" of animal Raleigh would be, but I think the gist of it was more along the lines of: If Raleigh were represented by, or associated with, an animal, what kind would it be?
Of course, there are cities that have firm associations with fauna. Denver has horses (Broncos?), Chicago has cows. Heck, even another North Carolina capital (New Bern) has a close association with the bear.
So what animal would best represent Raleigh? Here are some contenders. Feel free to add your own.
I am, admittedly, a homer when it comes to N.C. State. So naturally, a wolf was my first animal choice. With all due respect to Bears, Falcons and Avenging Angels, the Wolfpack has got to be the most closely-associated mascot to Raleigh.
But one could even make the case that there is a philosophical connection between the city and the wolf -- or the red wolf (canis rufus), to be more precise. Downtown Raleigh, like the red wolf, was on the verge of extinction and of being all but forgotten not that long ago, only to make a resurgeance. (Yeah, I know it's stretch. But it's my blog, so get off my back!)
Here is more about the red wolf:
The red wolf (Canis rufus) is one of the world's most endangered canids. Once common throughout the eastern and southcentral United States, red wolf populations were decimated by the early part of the 20th Century as a result of intensive predator control programs and the degradation and alteration of the species' habitat. The red wolf was designated an endangered species in 1967, and shortly thereafter the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service initiated efforts to conserve the species. Today, more than 100 red wolves roam their native habitats in eastern North Carolina, and nearly 200 red wolves are maintained in captive breeding facilities throughout the United States.
Any city that is known as the City of Oaks is gonna have squirrels. Oodles and oodles of squirrels.
You may think of deer as being only found in more rural or suburban areas, but we've been known to spot them in Historic Oakwood Cemetery from time to time.
In addition, there is a historical connection between the city's namesake and deer. Sir Walter Raleigh's coat of arms features a deer on top of a shield, apparently in recognition of the deer that roamed around his home in Hayes-Barton (England, not Raleigh). You can see the deer on the City's official flag.
Way up high, on the top of Christ Church downtown, is a golden rooster. The story goes that when Gen. Sherman's troops came through the city at the end of the Civil War, that was the only chicken that "survived" in Raleigh. (My kids refer to the church as the "Church of the Golden Chicken.")
In addition, the News & Observer used to print a red rooster across the front page when a Democrat won the White House.
Speaking of politics. (Hey-oh.) As Homer Simpson once said, weaseling out of things is the only thing that separates us from the animals. Except the weasel.
Cougars are native to North Carolina. After all, have you SEEN the downtown clubbin' photos at WRAL.com?!