Better to elect a rhino than an ass

The sultan of Cambay donated the animal to the Portuguese governor of Goa in order to sweeten the bitter pill, his refusal to the Portuguese territorial claims. The governor sent it further to Lisbon in order to calm the anger of King Manuel I on the failure of his mission. The king sent it to Rome for Pope Leo X  in order to secure his benevolence as an arbiter concerning the border line between the Portuguese and Spanish expansion in South-Eastern Asia.The ship with which he was carried in February 1516 to Italy, was caught by a storm, and the rhinoceros died, but during the Lisbon months a learned description, and even a sketch was made on the rhinoceros from the pen of the Moravian merchant Valentim Fernandes living in Portugal. Only 60 years after Europe would again put its eyes on a rhyno again.

Albrecht Dürer went from Munich to Rome on foot in order to see and draw the first rhinoceros ever brought to Europe, the engraving based on Fernandes description became the first bestseller of the history of printing, this rhinoceros was then also included in the reprints of Pliny based on the reports of the Roman legionaries returning from Africa.

The 1959 city council election in Sao Paulo, Brazil had a surprise winner: Cacareco, a five-year-old female rhinoceros at the local zoo. Not only did she win, but she did so by a landslide, garnering 100,000 votes (15% of the total). This was one of the highest totals for a local candidate in Brazil’s history to that date. Cacareco’s candidacy was traced back to a group of students who had printed up 200,000 ballots with her name on them, but the ballots were all legitimately cast by voters. Cacareco’s election caused an outpouring of concern among Brazil’s intellectual classes, “a phenomenon of the greatest sociological importance“.


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