In the spirit of oral tradition, here are the words to the “76 Animals” poem, plus a recording of me reciting it in the cadence I learned 50 years ago from my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Wood. This poem remains firmly anchored in my memory after all these years.
My recollection is that Mrs. Wood, who was nearing retirement, had learned it from her own teacher “back in the day.” This puts its likely origin around the early part of the 20th century. (See notes below about two other derivative versions, used as lyrics for a song called “Beastiary”.)
The poem’s author is unknown. Since I haven’t found this version online anywhere, I’m sharing it here to preserve it and pass it along.
Alligator, Hedgehog, Anteater, Bear,
Rattlesnake, a Bullfrog, Anaconda, Hare.
Buffalo, Woodchuck, Wolverine, Goose,
Whippoorwill, Chipmunk, Jackal, Moose.
Mud Turtle, Whale, and a Glowworm, Bat,
Salamander, Snail, and a Maltese Cat.
Red Squirrel, Loon, Opossum, Wigeon,
Black Squirrel, Coon, and a South Guinea Pigeon.
Polecat, Dog, Otter, Cat,
Pelican, Hog, and a Dodo, Rat.
Eagle, Kinkajou, Sheep, Jack, Widgeon,
Conger, Armadillo, Beaver, Seal, and Pigeon.
Reindeer, Blacksnake, Ibex, Nightingale,
Martin, a Wild Drake, Crocodile, Quail.
Antelope, a Swiss Rat, Wild Goose, Llama,
Turkey Buzzard, Swan, and a Hummingbird, Flea.
Wild Horse, Fawn, and a Muskrat, Bee.
Musk Ox, Toe Rat, White Bear, Doe,
Chickadee, Peacock, Bobolink, Crow.
2 Pete Seeger sings a simplified version of “Beastiary” as a children’s song.
3 The pelican photo is by Alfred Leung on Unsplash.com.