Genuine Mustelids is building a set of unique resources for those interested in the family Mustelidae:
First, we list and provide data on every species in Family of Mustelids, with references to the scientific literature, publications, and other credible resources. In addition, in the rare occasion where our knowledge is not corroborated in a peer-reviewed or published source, we offer information based on some of our members’ encounters and experience with mustelids. In such instances, we make only objective assertions.
Second, based on these data, in Anatomy Tutorials we aim to provide helpful guides for those attempting to visually depict various mustelids, breaking down major physical traits among the sub-families.
Third, in Mustelids in Media we provide a unique database of books, films, animation, and games. Here, we list and provide a synopsis of every book that we know of where a mustelid appears as a major character in the story, currently totaling over 100 titles. Further, we list every film and documentary that we know of that primarily features mustelids, and every game that features one as a primary part of the gameplay (while also actually resembling their species), as well as list examples of well-known and obscure animations where mustelids are particularly well-represented. Finally, we give explanation for how some common morphologically inaccurate stereotypes were spread in animation. This piece goes into detail about the ways mustelids, particularly weasels, are often anatomically misshapen and typecast as villains in fiction. While we have no intention of taking to the streets over such matters, our aim is to show new content creators that there are better ways to represent these animals.
How we help
Having a website that educates people about real-life mustelids is one thing, but how does a list of fictional media help these animals in the real world? Such content is merely fiction and does not represent reality, right? Fictional media should not reflect on mustelids in the real world, but it often does. People have a tendency to form opinions about elusive animals at an early age based on what they have learnt from cartoons, literature and other media, and these early beliefs tend to stick with people through adulthood. Sometimes anthropomorphising animals just to make them more interesting or relatable can inadvertently perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes, and while the practise itself is by no means “wrong”, it is important to clarify the differences between fiction and real animal behaviour.
While there are many great conservation organisations and scientists that both help educate people about mustelids and protect their habitat, few examine or take advantage of popular culture to inspire others to care about the existence of these often-misunderstood animals. We believe that even those without a zoology degree may make a difference in improving the reputation of mustelids, since it was average people who perpetuated negative stereotypes in the first place.
While we prefer to discourage further stereotyping of mustelids in fictional media, we cannot ignore the fact that many people’s interest in these animals is kindled from a favourite childhood or young-adulthood character. Memorable characters such as Taggerung the otter, Kine the least weasel, and Bill the badger are among a few that have inspired people to learn more about these amazing animals. For this reason, we believe combining both fictional media and animal facts to be a great way in helping people become more interested in mustelids.