I love it when the dailies go nuts over some animal sighting. It makes the hardbitten editors and news reporters seem so sweetly naive. Remember a few years back when someone saw a crab in the Gowanus Canal. Front page news!
The New York Times enthused today over the appearance of a North American beaver in the Bronx River. According to the article, it's the first time the big-toothed mammal has been seen herabouts in—wait for it—200 years. That's right, not since the early days of the republic. Scientists say this means the Bronx River (can't remember the last time I actively thought about the Bronx River) is pretty darn healthy again, after years of being everyone's favorite car and tire depository.
Of course, the creature has a cute nickname, making for better copy. It's named José, after United States Representative José E. Serrano of the Bronx, who funneled $15 million in federal funds into a river clean-up. ($15 million for one beaver. Not much of a return.)
The beaver, you know, is the official state animal of New York State. I think this is mainly because we once made a lot of money off them. Astor got rich on pelts, I believe. So it's good we've got at least one in the city.