With over 4 million articles, Wikipedia is an invaluable resource, whether you're throwing a term paper together at the last minute, or fixing that nagging error about deflector shield frequencies on one of the Star Trek: The Next Generation pages. But follow enough links, and you get sucked into some seriously strange places. We explore some of Wikipedia's oddities in our 4,292,250-week series, Wiki Wormhole.
This Week’s Entry: Non-human electoral candidates
What It’s About: Since Roman times, when Caligula tried to name his horse consul—the titular head of state who presided over the senate—animals have had a surprisingly frequent role in politics. Whether Caligula was insane or merely trying to prove a point to his Senate is open to debate among historians, but history is full of animals running for office as a protest. Others run as a joke, a few as a publicity stunt (9 Lives spokesanimal Morris the Cat has run for president twice), and surprisingly, some of them win. A few of the winners have even held office. The article also includes inanimate objects who have run for office, although they’ve had less success at the polls.
Strangest Fact: For several years, the mayor of Lajitas, Texas was a goat named Clay Henry III, who drank beer and presided from a stable. Rabbit Hash, Kentucky has had three dog mayors: Goofy in 1998, Junior in 2004, and Lucy Lou, a border collie who succeeded Junior upon his death in 2008. The Junior administration was clouded by scandal, as the Northern Kentucky Health Department banned him from the town General Store for hygiene reasons. (Both Rabbit Hash and Lajitas are unincorporated towns with no actual government, so in both cases, mayor is a ceremonial title.)
Controversy: None, which is surprising for an article based around political protest. User Vardion does make a pitch to include H’Angus the Monkey, mascot of Hartlepool United F.C. in England. Stuart Drummond, who wore the costume, had been escorted off the field by security on one occasion for “simulating sex” with a female fan, and on another for “playing with” a blowup doll. Nonetheless, Drummond ran for mayor, in character, campaigning on free bananas for all children. He was elected in 2002, and immediately quit his mascot gig. He is currently serving his third term.
A strange aside: The name H’Angus is a play on the term “monkey hangers,” a nickname given to Hartlepudlians (as if Hartlepudlians wasn’t enough) because of a well-known (although unconfirmed) incident in which a monkey was hanged. The monkey in question was the only survivor of a French shipwreck during the Napoleonic wars, who washed up on shore wearing a French naval uniform. The locals held a trial for the monkey, sentenced him to death, and hanged him on the beach.
Thing We Were Happiest To Learn: Tuxedo Stan, a cat who ran for mayor of Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2012 got an endorsement from Anderson Cooper. Stan’s run was part of a movement to improve feline welfare in the city.
Thing We Were Unhappiest To Learn: Animal candidates’ votes aren’t always counted. In 1988, Tião the chimpanzee ran for mayor of Rio de Janeiro. Any vote for Tião was registered as null, but it’s estimated he got nearly half a million votes and came in third. Likewise, Dustin The Turkey, a puppet who hosted kids’ shows on Irish TV and has had a surprisingly robust singing career, with six albums—two of which charted in Ireland's top 10—ran for president in 1997. Again, votes for the puppet were not counted, but it's rumored he came in fifth, ahead of flesh-and-blood candidate Derek Nally.
Also noteworthy: In 1958, a rhinocerous named Cacareco ran for city council in São Paulo, Brazil, receiving over 100,000 votes. To this day, a protest vote is known as a “Cacareco vote” in Brazil.
Best link to elsewhere on Wikipedia: This doesn’t seem to be all that related to the topic at hand, but the “See Also” links include one for the “Jedi census phenomenon,” in which people list the Star Wars-based philosophy as their religion on a national census. The phenomenon seems to have started in 2001 in Australia and spread to nearly a dozen nations. Australia claims tens of thousands of Jedi, even though the government has threatened fines for providing “false or misleading information.” New Zealand recorded 53,000 Jedi in 2001, a full 1.5% of the population, making it the second-biggest religion behind Christianity (although it also fell behind “no religion” and “object to answering.”) Scotland’s 2001 census included 14,014 Jedi, 2,682 of whom listed it as their “religion of upbringing." 14 Scots also listed their religion as Sith.