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The Black Squirrels Of London ~ Composed and Arranged by: Peter Snell and Dan Rutledge.
Lyrics by: Peter Snell, Sharron Snell, Ric Wallace, Sheila Tofflemire and Dan Rutledge
Composed and Arranged by: Peter Snell and Dan Rutledge
Digital Recording & Mastering By: Dan Rutledge Studios
While plentiful in Ontario, Black Squirrels number only 1 in 10 000 squirrels found throughout North America. With odds like 1 in 10 000, it makes the Black Squirrels rare; when something is rare, people associate it with LUCK. Black Squirrels have inspired many Lottery Charm® products, which have been used to win the lottery many times. All of which has led to London’s Black Squirrels being known as the LUCKY Black Squirrels.
Many Canadians from other provinces see their first Black Squirrel® when they visit Ontario. You won’t find Black Squirrels in the Maritimes, and other than some pockets of Black Squirrels in Vancouver, British Columbia, you won’t find them in western Canada either. Plus many Americans have never seen Black Squirrels.
The rarity of these creatures has led to some interesting history regarding their exportation to other communities in both the United States and Canada. We first discovered the Ontario-Kent State connection, when squirrels were exported from Canada to the United States:
- In February 1961, Larry Wooddell, the superintendent of KSU’s™ 500 acres, and Biff Staples, a Davey Tree expert, ventured to Ontario, Canada to obtain 10 cages with black squirrels. Both men worked with the Canadian Wildlife Service and American and Canadian Customs for permission to move the squirrels.
- A second trip was made in early March in 1961 to a London, Ontario Park to obtain more squirrels.
- By 1964, the Kent Record-Courier observed that there were up to 150 squirrels in the area.
- When first released, the large, black-spiked squirrels were frequently mistaken for skunks.
- No similar concentrations existed in the central and eastern parts of Ohio prior to 1961. This was changed when Larry Wooddell & Biff Staples brought back the London Ontario black squirrels.
- Today they own the campus and the squirrels have been spotted in places such as: Warren, Cleveland, Barberton, Akron, and Canton.
- Russell Foldessy, Superintendent of KSU™ grounds, says “They don’t hurt anything, in fact the rabbits and chipmunks are harder on plants and in making holes in the ground.”
- An annual Black Squirrel Festival is held each fall at KSU™ featuring performers, black squirrel photo and drawing contests, an organizations fair, crafts displays, and a 4.2 mile Black Squirrel Run.
In Kent they are going wild over our squirrels. There is an Annual Black Squirrel Festival, Black Squirrel Music Inc, Black Squirrel Gallery, Black Squirrel Radio Station, Black Squirrel Woodworking, Black Squirrel Books, the Black Squirrel Classic race, and in the past even the Kent State campus police have used the black squirrel as their safety symbol. The list goes on and on!
The Ontario/Kent State Black Squirrel connection even led to the creation of the following video:
But it turns out that’s not the first time Black Squirrels made the trip south of the border. Ontario Canada has exported Black Squirrels to our American neighbours on four separate occasions:
- In 1902 and 1906, eighteen Ontario Black Squirrels were imported by the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.
- By the 1960s, the Black Squirrels had spread to Bethesda and Silver Spring via Rock Creek Stream Valley.
- Today, Black Squirrels populate the grounds of the White House.
- Black Squirrels were imported twice in 1961 by Kent State University (see above).
The Black Squirrel phenomenon has grown and spread to various places in the United States and worldwide. Princeton University has a thriving population of the furry devils. Other Black Squirrel towns in the United States include Council Bluffs, Iowa; Marysville, Kansas; and Hobbs, New Mexico. Plus these beautiful black creatures have also spread to the UK. At first the theory was that a genetic mutation had led to the large population of Black Squirrels in some parts of the UK. But genetic testing has proven that the DNA of the UK Black Squirrels is identical to the American Black Squirrels.
Remember earlier we said Black Squirrels were imported by the National Zoo in Washington, DC? They were part of a gift package to then president Teddy Roosevelt and the Capital’s zoo. Eventually those squirrels made their way north to New York City, and in 1909 NY’s mayor, William Jay Gaynor, donated eight pairs of Black Squirrels to Vancouver, British Columbia Canada. Some might call that re-gifting; we say our boys just wanted to come home!
Roosevelt wasn’t the only president to enjoy the Black Squirrels: President Ronald Reagan had a great fondness for squirrels. He would pick up acorns while at Camp David and bring them back for the squirrels on the grounds at the White House. One time he forgot to feed them as he was in a hurry to meet with some heads of state. He heard some noise and when he looked at the windows he saw squirrels pressed up to the glass of the Oval Office looking for their supply of nuts.
If you’re an American and you would like to see the Black Squirrel® get recognition and perhaps adopted as the official White House mascot, please write President Barack Obama, your Congressperson, and Oprah Winfrey, because these are the people who make things happen.
For Black Squirrel t-shirt enthusiasts, visit BlackSquirrel.ca