Tamandua anteater  - Costa Rica Animal Stereotypes
Common Western Animal Stereotypes

When anthropomorphising a (non-human) animal there are stereotypical traits which commonly tend to be associated with particular species. Often these are simply exaggerations of real aspects or behaviors of the creature in question, while other times the stereotype is taken from mythology and the true origins are forgotten, or from a figurative point of view of some thing. Some are popularized or solidified by a single particularly notable appearance in media, for example Disney's 1942 film Bambi which portrayed the titular deer as an innocent, fragile animal. In any case, once they have entered the culture as widely-recognized stereotypes of animals, they tend to be used both in conversation and media as a kind of shorthand for expressing particular qualities.

While some authors make use of these animal stereotypes "as is", others undermine reader expectations by reversing them, developing the animal character in the exact opposite direction (e.g. a fastidious pig or a cowardly lion). Many modern stereotypes of animals have a long tradition dating back to Aesop's Fables, which drew upon sources that included Ancient Egyptian animal tales. Aesop's stereotypes were so deeply ingrained by the time of Apollonius of Tyana that they were accepted as representative of various animals' "true" natures:

"And there is another charm about him, namely, that he puts animals in a pleasing light and makes them interesting to mankind. For after being brought up from childhood with these stories, and after being as it were nursed by them from babyhood, we acquire certain opinions of the several animals and think of some of them as royal animals, of others as silly, of others as witty, and others as innocent." -- Flavius Philostratus ca. 250 AD

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Tamandua Anteater
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