Zachary ("Zach") Zenith Squirrel
Credited with being the first squirrel to discover a commercial bird feeder as a food source
- Zachary (“Zach”) Zenith Squirrel was out for his morning gambol one spring day in 1927, when he happened upon an odd-looking object in the yard of a sprawling human property. Hopping on, he found it full of food. It was a bird feeder – one of the first commercial varieties used by humans, and the first ever encountered by an Eastern gray squirrel.
He later described it as “a bounty the likes of which I had never seen – sunflower seeds, safflower, millet, corn, even pre-shelled peanuts! It was like Mother Nature had made a feast of favorites just for me.”
After taking his fill, Zach followed protocol in the Squirrel Manifesto Found in the Great Tree of Life, and he called out to other squirrels to come over for the score. It wasn’t long, Zach later reported, before the “Entitled Birds in their entitled way came dive-bombing down from the skies, as if they owned all the food in the world.”
A full-on species war raged. The birds claimed humans put the grub in the specialized feeder as a signal that it was only theirs for the taking. “It doesn’t matter what the food is in, until it is in my belly!” Zach maintained.
The point might have been rendered moot after the first day of battles – all of the food had been eaten. But the next day, and each day thereafter, a human replenished the station, stoking the issue (and the squirrel-bird battles) again and again.
One morning, Zach and his comrades took over the feeding station for their tasty breakfast. Witnesses say Zach was considering the idea of sharing the station with the birds, “just as we share it with ourselves,” he reportedly said. Then, the air cracked. A human, leaning out his home window, had fired a gun at the squirrels, and when the smoke cleared ...
“It is what it is,” the other squirrels shrugged, after they had gotten away. They had lost friends before, and they would again.
For years after, “Remember Zachary Zenith!” served as a victory cry barked by any squirrel who took food from a bird feeder. These days, we know the phrase as a popular cheer at squirrel sporting events.
This t-shirt, part of our American Squirrel Series, features an illo by Yoonhwa Jang. Super-soft-cotton Next Level tee. Forged by our friends at Danger Press.