Artistic License Zoology
Critical Research Failure when it comes to how animals work or act
Sometimes, a work displays Critical Research Failure for animals in general. It's not just reptiles or birds, or even a singular species. This piece of work is just terrible at animals as a whole; to the point where any subset of zoology would shed an angry, sad, or even hysterical tear. A Sub-Trope of both Artistic License – Biology and Somewhere, This Index Is Crying. Compare to Artistic License – Animal Care. Also see Animal Gender-Bender, All Animals Are Dogs, All Animals Are Domesticated, Somewhere, a Herpetologist Is Crying, Artistic License – Ornithology, and Somewhere, an Equestrian Is Crying.
Specific examples Film — Animation
- In fiction, cows give milk 24/7 even when no calves are around. In real life, just like most mammals, cows only give milk in a very specific time period: after giving birth. Farmers have to keep breeding them in order for them to produce milk.
- Cobras in animation tend to be portrayed with spectacles on their hood regardless of species. In reality, only the Indian cobra has that trait. This portrayal leads to generic Informed Species cobras.
- Guinea Pigs are often seen as the bigger versions of hamsters; and thus are often assumed to behave the same way. In real life, their genetics separate at the order Rodentia. They are as closely related to hamsters as rats are to squirrels; and naturally behave differently. An example would be how guinea pigs don't exercise on exercise wheels like hamsters do (meanwhile; mice, the hamster's closer relative, do run on exercise wheels).
- Goldfish in fiction are presented as having very short lifespans. This is a myth. Goldfish only have short lifespans because they're treated incorrectly by their owners. When given proper diets and large enough fish tanks, a goldfish can easily live over a decade or even several decades.
- Quail in fiction are often portrayed with a black head plume regardless of species. In real life, only the California & Gambel's quail have it.
- As per Scavengers Are Scum, many animals stereotypically seen as scavengers are considered evil. In real life, most of these are either predators (hyenas, coyotes, jackals) or omnivores (crows), which do eat dead animals but no more than other predators or omnivores do. The only animals traditionally considered scavengers that play out this role are vultures.
- Mammals are usually seen as being more intelligent than other types of animals. In reality, most vertebrates, and many invertebrates, are on average as intelligent as the average mammal. While there are many highly intelligent mammals, these are outliers, and such outliers exist in other animal groups (corvids, birds of prey, parrots, large constrictors, monitor lizards, crocodilians, sharks, etc).
- Catfish are often considered as "bottom feeders" in media. In reality, most catfish are active predators, with the large ones being apex predators in their habitats.
- Dogs Are Dumb is not remotely true. They might not be comparable to humans but dogs in general are rather smart. The stereotype that "cats are smarter than dogs" is inverted in reality. Some studies have shown that dogs are overall smarter than cats (though this is still up for debate).
- Rabbits have only two upper incisors and two lower incisors, plus two "peg teeth" behind the uppers. Rabbits have no secondary incisors, no canines, and no premolars. Any rabbit that smiles showing a mouthful of teeth must be wearing dentures. Bugs Bunny is a frequent offender.
- Hyenas are very frequently considered canines, even amongst their fans. Hyenas are in actuality more closer related to cats than dogs.
- Despite popular belief, there are more types of foxes than just red foxes. Occasionally an Arctic Fox or Fennec Fox will appear in media but they are still Seldom-Seen Species'.
- Baby rabbits are not called "bunnies". they're called "kittens".
- Marty from Madagascar is treated like he's having a Hollywood Mid-Life Crisis at age ten. While it's true wild zebras have a life expectancy of twenty-five, captive zebras have a life expectancy of forty.
- It seems that the bulls and cows of Barnyard and its spinoff Back at the Barnyard are separate species. Case in point, Otis is a male cow and one episode has a female bull.
- Jenna from Balto is a red Siberian Husky. While "red" Siberian Huskies do exist, they're more of a brownish tone than a bright red. Jenna's fur invokes Heroes Want Redheads more than the actual colour does.
- Lion cubs in The Lion King lack the rosettes that actual young cubs have. The sole exception is Kion from The Lion Guard (who is actually too old for them). Concept art shows that Simba originally had rosettes, but the final product lacks the.
- King Kong (2005) had a lot of this. Amongst other things, it had featherless theropods and it had terrible ethology (animal psychology) on the whole. Excited apes don't intentionally try to break necks, for starters. And no generations-taught small pack predator would go after a herd of huge prey just to have to each their own kills. Nor would they abandon their target midhunt to take the riskier decision of attacking snacks from underneath sauropod's legs.
- Both Tailchaser's Song and its Spiritual Successor Warrior Cats have cats becoming lethargic and overweight after being spayed or neutered. This is actually a myth. Your pets' personality and behavior won't change much if at all after the surgery, and if anything changes it's little things such as males being less aggressive.
- Survivor Dogs:
- Most Dobermans are depicted with naturally docked ears, with the exception being the White Sheep Storm. As pups they have natural ears but when they age suddenly their ears become upright, like a German Shepherds. Dobermans naturally have long tails and floppy ears. Early in their life, their breeder or owner can chose to crop their tails short and/or dock their ears upright.
- Realistically, a lot of the dogs would have a tougher time surviving than the wild than depicted. Sweet, for example, is a Greyhound. They're known for getting injured very easily and getting cold very easily, due to the low amount of fat on their bodies. Sweet still fares perfectly well in the cold environment and is powerful enough to become an Alpha.
- Dogs are depicted as monogamous, unlike real dogs.
- Young foxes are "kits", not "cubs".
- Warrior Cats features Partially Civilized Animals however they're not anthropomorphic enough to explain some of the issues:
- The cats aren't always in Perfect Health however they noticeably lack a lot of issues common in feral cats, such as FIV (a cat equivalent to HIV).
- Adult warriors can become From Stray to Pet if they wish to, though it's deeply looked down upon and they're seen as traitors to their Clan. In real life, most feral cats (as in, they were born and raised on the streets with little-to-no human contact) cannot be homed after kittenhood. This is why Trap-and-Release programs release the cats after spaying and neutering them, instead of trying to find them owners.
- Neutered cats are portrayed as sluggish and fat. This is a reasons why cats fear humans. Learning about neutering helps persuade Rusty to run away to ThunderClan. This is an old myth. Cats, or dogs for that matter, don't become less active due to being spayed or neutered.
- Cats are portrayed as monogamous animals that mate for life. In real life, cats are anything but monogamous.
- Cats are depicted as diurnal in Warriors, rarely hunt at night, and don't have very good eyesight at night.
- Cats almost never hunt in trees or even climb trees.
- It's implied that cats mate for reasons besides breeding. At least one character has gotten pregnant when they thought they were infertile.
- Warriors is pretty bad with genetics and cat colours. A lot of characters have colourings that are implausible or impossible for them.
- Cat pregnancies are depicted as longer than they actually are.
- One chapter of Seeker Bears incorrectly mentions a bear retracting their claws.
- In Nintendogs + Cats each breed comes in multiple colours, however in real life many of the breeds have very few, if any, varying patterns according to Breed Standards. This means several dogs have fake fur colours, such as Malteses with spots.
- As mentioned on Typical Cartoon Animal Colors, canaries in fiction often have a yellow colour that isn't realistic for the species. Tweety from Looney Tunes is the Trope Codifier of yellow canaries.
- The Lion Guard features a lot of this despite being an edutainment show:
- Kion has rosettes at an age where they should be gone.
- Fuli lives alone and hunts alone despite her young age. It is possible she's an orphan, but it's never clarified.
- Fuli has rosettes despite being a cheetah, and her distinctive "tear-stripe" eye markings are much too short, making her look a awful lot like a leopard. King cheetahs (a rare type of cheetah) have them, but she lacks the other traits of king cheetahs, such as back stripes, so it's not clear if she is one of them or not. Word of God is they went with the rosettes because the young audience preferred this design over all the other ones they showed them.
- Fuli runs too quickly for a cheetah her age. She runs like an adult. It would be less interesting if she didn't, though.
- Despite the fact that real male hyenas are very low ranking, the hyenas here are led by a male. You could chalk it up to being the fact that there are only males in the group, but hyenas don't make same sexed groups.
- Jasiri implies hyenas are only scavengers. It's true they will scavenge when given the chance like most predators, but they are not considered only scavengers anymore then lions or any other predators are because they mostly hunt. Lions actually scavenge more than hyenas do. The whole "hyenas are only scavengers" thing is a very outdated belief that contributes to the bad reputation of the animal, so it's sad they got this one wrong (especially since they were correctly portrayed as predators in both the movie and the pilot). At least she puts it in a positive light, so the writers are at least trying.
- Some of the crocodiles are shown with overbites (only the top teeth visible when the mouth is closed), which is a trait of alligators.
- Kiara and Kion don't seem to be from the same litter but are almost the same age. Lions have larger gaps between litters.
- As in the original movie, the hyenas are sometimes heard to yelp like dogs. In reality, hyenas are not related to dogs, nor do they make sounds like them. For some reason, actual hyena sounds are only very rarely used in both the movie and the show.
- Ushari is an Egyptian cobra (Naja haje), and for his first few appearances he has the markings of one. But later on, he's shown to have the external hood markings of an Indian cobra (Naja naja), which does not occur in Africa - in the same episode where his species is identified, no less. This is an exceedingly common trope with cobra species in media, on the level of All Animals Are Dogs.
- Female ostriches are regularly portrayed with black and white feathers. In reality, only males are black and white — females are brown. Given that The Lion King II: Simba's Pride showed a female ostrich with accurate brown feathers, they really should've known better.
- In "Fuli's New Family," several characters comment on how soft Fuli's fur is. In real life, cheetah hair is often coarse and rough.
- Hyraxes don't rub against snake sheds to disguise their scent. Their main defense mechanism is hiding in the crevices of rocks or in trees.
- The plot of "Call of the Drongo" hinges on a drongo learning that tricking other animals in order to steal their food is wrong and disruptive to the Circle of Life. If it were any other species of mimicking bird, this wouldn't have been a problem...fork-tailed drongos, however, obtain about a quarter of their daily calories by doing exactly this. It's not exactly nice, but it's perfectly natural and fairly crucial to their survival.
- The zebras make horse sounds. While zebras do look similar to horses, they sound completely different. Since all three of the movies had zebras making accurate sounds, they should have known better.
- Gazelles are all portrayed with long, straight horns regardless of sex. In reality, female gazelles have shorter horns than the males.
- Aardwolves are stated to look like hyenas, but most of them get offended if someone mistakes them for one. Aardwolves actually are a species of hyena that has specialized to eat termites.
- Giraffes are drawn with pink tongues, when real giraffes have black or purple tongues.
- Southern red bishops are referred to as finches, when they are actually weavers. "Finch", however, is a catchall term used for various unrelated bird groups, so this is luckily only a borderline case.
- This series in general has serious problems with scale. The male gorillas look too small when next to Kion.
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