There's a piece in the Times today about the greatly misunderstood walrus (the Times does a wonderful job furthering our knowledge of various greatly misunderstood animals) that brings up, again, the question Jonathan Rosen raised in his recent piece for us: Which animals do we feel we can't live without, and why? According to the Times piece, "Like the polar bear, which last week was granted protection under the Endangered Species Act, the walrus depends on the seasonal rhythms of the polar ice cap for every phase of its life, which means it is particularly vulnerable to the warming of the earth’s climate and the retreat of the ice." But it hasn't become the symbol of ecological depradation that the polar bear has, nor does an animal described aptly as "a gelatinous, mustachioed boulder" seem likely to.

Still, the walrus is not without its goofy charms, as anyone familiar with the "lolrus" phenomenon already knows. So maybe the walrus-as-celebrity-spokes-animal is just an idea whose time hasn't quite come.

--Britt Peterson