The word is “rhinoceros”. Rye-Nahs-Air-Uss. It is a Latin word and refers to the horn on the animal's head. The animal is native to Africa and was first described by Herodotus in the fifth century B. C. It appears that this creature which, with some imagination, can be considered like a horse, albeit a fat, squat horse covered in leathery skin, this very animal you see before you, gave birth to the myth of the unicorn. The unicorn, of course, is beautiful, and graceful, as this rhinoceros – Rye-Nahs-Air-Uss - most certainly is not.

Some wit has named her “Clara”. It is as good a name as any for an animal new to us, and it has the advantage of being familiar, and so you are welcome to call the animal Clara as well, which will no doubt make her seem more like a horse or a pig, or some other common beast. But not too much so. After all, I doubt you'd pay the price of a good meal to see a horse or a pig, but that's what you've paid to come in and see Clara, and so you want her to be special.

Special, but not too strange. In fact, you want to pretend she's friendly, that she'd like you to hug her or pet her, even though she ignores you, ignores you completely, as she munches her hay and flicks her tail and, from time to time, farts, farts very loudly. You'd like to think she's an affectionate creature, the kind of creature one calls Clara.

Go right ahead. So long as you've paid your entrance fee and don't overstay your visit, you may do what you like. You may even convince yourself – you wouldn't be the first – that you've actually seen... a unicorn.

Copyright 2008 James B. Chevallier
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