It’s sad but true: most animals need to die before they become legends. Harambe, Cecil the lion- both achieved a weird mutant hybrid of meme and sainthood after their untimely deaths.
However, on island, we have our own celebrity animal, alive and thriving: Kush, a 7 year old red panda. Kush was always going to have some degree of fame: red pandas are exceptionally cute and incredibly popular. But he has also exceeded expectations. He was given the kind of name that your 13 year old brother suggests you name the cat, claiming it has some Manx significance. Your mum agrees to name him ‘Kush’, glad he’s finally taken interest in something other than Fortnite, only to find out a month later that she has unwittingly agreed to naming the cat after weed. She is in equal parts embarrassed (do the neighbours overhear her shouting “Kush” and think she’s running a crackhouse in Farmhill?) and concerned (she googles “drug test teenagers IOM” just in case). It is a good name.
I appreciate Kush because he is a bit of an attention seeker; if he were human, he would seek out validation by wearing short skirts and writing funny little articles about island events, desperate to read comments by middle-aged men claiming that all his articles were sponsored by the government. Instead, like a little red-headed Kardashian, he takes selfies that hit the front pages of the newspapers. I’m just a little bit jealous.
His most audacious attention-seeking act, however, was running away from the wildlife park. Twice. Perhaps a wild animal was trying to, you know, be wild once again- but having being raised in captivity, adored, and never having had to worry about whether there would be food on the table, it is likely that it was a press stunt. Because honestly, what was he going to do in Ballaugh? Hang around with some inbred wallabies? I think not.
In August, shocking news came when we found out that Kush is actually an absolute shagger, and has fathered two little cubs. According to the National Geographic, male Red Pandas “take little to no interest in their offspring”: making them sound like the perfect Manx father. In fact, when you realise that, during his bird’s (well, red panda) pregnancy, he off’d and left, it’s quite clear that Kush is a massive flake. It really wouldn’t surprise me if we hear in 6 months time, Kush was last seen going to shop for some cigs…