The Animals of The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games trilogy is rich with animals. No surprise there considering that animals for most equate to food for most people, and not pets. For starters there’s Katniss and Gale who are hunters out of necessity, they’re probably the characters in the story that encounter and/or have the most interaction with animals throughout the series, and I mean both dead and
living ones. From the squirrels, rabbits, and birds that Katniss and Gale snare, or shoot, to Lady the goat, and Buttercup the cat– District 12 may be the most animal friendly district in the whole of Panem, that is when they’re not making wild dog stew, and supplementing rat meat for chicken. That being said animals have other purposes besides sustenance and companionship.

She kind of deserved some screen time, no?

She kind of deserved some screen time, no?

The Muttations of the Games: they are fierce, they are frightening, they are grotesque, and they serve no purpose other than to maim, traumatise, kill— and most disgustingly, entertain the audience. From the fluffy killer squirrels of Haymitch’s Games, to the wolf Mutts of Katniss and Peeta’s first Games (later revamped into dog Mutts for the film adaptation), to the monkey/ baboon Mutts of their second Games, and most psychologically frightening of them all, the Jabberjays– Panem does not want for wildlife, manufactured or not. But then there’s the accidents of the Capitol– the Mockingjay. The cross breed that never should have been, that was created out of laziness, or perhaps a species shear will to survive?

Concept art is cool-- and scary.

Concept art is cool– and scary.

This morning during breakfast I was channel surfing through the short stack of channels at my disposal, I ended up on a Saturday morning animal show hosted by the world-famous Jack Hanna– the wildlife expert who always has a way of sounding like he knows nothing about animals when he’s got an endangered species crawling up his leg, or across his chest. While I was watching this show, where Hanna was traipsing across a Kenyan wildlife refuge, and gawking at a rare species of giraffe, I was struck with the disturbing thought of, what if Panem had a version of Jack Hanna, but instead of educating the Capitol public on magnificent creatures from near and far, that they showcased Muttation species from past and present Games? Abominations of nature, spliced together genomes of big cats, and arachnids– creating animals that resemble caber tooth tigers, with bites that rip you apart, whilst simultaneously shooting stinging venom into your wounds– so on top of losing limbs, you’re in excruciating, nerve shattering pain induced by lab intensified venom. The nightmarish possibilities are endless really.

There’s a consolation prize to the sick, twisted, fascination the Capitol has with creating the worst out of nature’s best. Cat’s from District 12 survive wars, travel home from hundreds of miles, and help heal protagonists.

Thanks Buttercup.

No really, thanks you rage/ tear inducing, matted, mongrel.

No really, thanks you range/ tear inducing, matted, mongrel.

Them There Eyes

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One comment

  1. The funny thing is that I actually think that the mutts (I flat-out refuse to say the Capitol-created term “muttation”; one way of saying it is a complete misnomer and the other just sounds silly) would have a role post-Rebellion.
    For all its schitzo-level of tech (WWII’s aerospace capability is probably better than it). the one thing that Panem seems have strength in is biological and medical technology. It’s not hard to see mutts find roles in agriculture and the military; of course, they’d be a lot less flashy and psychologically-scarring than the ones for the Games. No doubt many scientists would be considered valuable enough to preserve a la in a HG version of Operation Paperclip.

    In any case, what’s worth considering is the initial ecological havoc things such as tracker jackers, nightlock, and even supposedly benign creatures like jabber/mockingjays and groosling would have wrought when they got introduced into the wild.

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