Take A Wild Guess: Identifying North America’s ‘Big Five’ Animals

Written by Andrew Linn on October 9, 2017

A while back, there was a show on the Nat Geo Wild Channel known as America’s Greatest Animals, in which several animal experts discuss and debate who they think should be the Big Five of North America, just like Africa has its Big Five (consisting of the lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros, and cape buffalo, which were selected due to the difficulty in hunting them, as well as how dangerous they can be).

Determining which animals qualify to be in the Big Five of North America was based on how many points (1-5 to be exact) in each of the following categories: power (i.e. how powerful it is), physical features, how dangerous they can be to humans, and charisma (i.e. how bad people want to see them). In addition, the following habitats were explored: the mountains, prairies, forests, and the Arctic.

The animals discussed consisted of the following: bighorn sheep, grizzly bear (a.k.a. brown bear), mountain lion (a.k.a. cougar), elk, buffalo (a.k.a. bison), pronghorn, wolf, bald eagle, black bear, moose, caribou (a.k.a. reindeer), and the polar bear. After reviewing each animal, the experts decided that North America’s Big Five would consist of the grizzly bear, buffalo, wolf, moose, and polar bear.

I was surprised that two other habitats were not included in this show — deserts and tropics. In addition, the experts must have forgotten that North America does not just consist of the United States, Canada, and Greenland, but also Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.

Needless to say, they should have included these habitats and regions. They should have also discussed other animals that could be contenders for North America’s Big Five. Such animals consist of the following: musk ox, jaguar, alligator, crocodile, caiman, and wild mustang.

The white-tail deer might possibly be a contender not because of the occasional attack on humans, but because it has sent more people to the hospital (via collisions with vehicles) than all the other animals in North America. They also carry ticks, which can transmit diseases to humans.

Pythons and wild hogs can also be contenders despite being invasive species.

Bobcats, coyotes, foxes, hawks, owls, snapping turtles, badgers, mule deer, and other animals in North America might possibly be contenders, but the odds would be against them.

Sharks and marine mammals could be contenders, although it might be best to have them as contenders if anyone decided to come up with a Big Five for the oceans. In fact, one could also come up with Big Five lists for the other continents. And if the categories which were earlier mentioned were used, even Africa’s Big Five list could possibly be revised.

But getting back to North America, of all the animals which I listed as possible contenders for its Big Five, I think the alligator might be the best bet. Alligators are powerful, they have unique features, they are responsible for many attacks on humans, and people do want to see them.

Feel free to discuss the list and which animals you think should be in North America’s Big Five.

photo credit: frostnip907 via photopin (license)

Share if you think this list is open to some debate.

Andrew Linn
Andrew Linn is a member of the Owensboro Tea Party and a former Field Representative for the Media Research Center. An ex-Democrat, he became a Republican one week after the 2008 Presidential Election. He has an M.A. in history from the University of Louisville, where he became a member of the Phi Alpha Theta historical honors society. He has also contributed to examiner.com and Right Impulse Media.