A unicorn for Christmas

December 11, 2011

It is a truth universally acknowledged that girls love unicorns.* So if you still haven’t found the perfect Christmas present for your daughter or your little niece yet, why not choose a pet unicorn? Pet unicorns are cute and cuddly and just about the size of a cat or a little doggie:

The Lady and the Unicorn, wall painting, c. 1465, Old Rectory, Ostermiething, Austria

The only problem is that, like their horse-sized relatives, pet unicorns are probably extinct. They were last sighted in a wall painting dating to c. 1465 (pictured above). A reported sighting in a 1506 painting by Raphael…

Raphael, Young Woman with Unicorn, 1506, Galleria Borghese, Rome (Image © Wikimedia Commons)

 … turned out to be a fake upon closer observation: As technical analysis has shown, the lady in the painting was originally holding a plain old lap-dog which was overpainted to look like a unicorn only at some later date.

So maybe a pet unicorn isn’t a gift option after all… But I guess that’s probably for the best anyway, because we all know what happens to pets given away as Christmas presents: Most of them end up in an animal shelter by mid-January. And wouldn’t it be heartbreaking to see all those shelters crammed with cute little unicorns? But then, the same is true for cats and dogs, rabbits, hamsters and whatnot…

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* That’s ‘universally acknowledged’ as in: ‘I snatched that up somewhere, and someone on the internet says so, too’.

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