Word of the Week: Wolpertinger
Enlarge image (© picture alliance / blickwinkel) In the Bavarian Alps, a strange-looking creature with antlers, fangs, wings and a tail roams quietly through the forests - according to folklore, that is. This mythological creature is what Germans call a Wolpertinger - a hybrid species that you've probably never seen before.
Some kids in Bavaria grow up believing in the Wolpertinger and may even search for the rare animals when walking through the woods. Although they do not actually exist, Bavarians have done a pretty good job at making the myth believable: tourist shops sometimes sell stuffed animals that look like Wolpertinger and the Deutsches Jagdt- und Fischereimuseum in Munich even has a permanent exhibit on it.
But what exactly is a Wolpertinger?
Well, even Germans don't have a clear definition. A Wolpertinger is basically a creature made up of many different animal parts. For example, it could have a squirrel's body, a rabbit's heat, deer antlers and wings. Some might have the head of a fox; others may have the feet of a duck or a pheasant.
It is not known exactly when or where the myth of the Wolpertinger originated, but the museum in Munich suggests that it may have come from a town called Wolterdingen, where glass makers created shot glasses in the form of animals and called them Wolterdinger. This could in fact be true, since different regions have different names for the creature, ranging from Woipertinger to Woiperdinger to Wulpertinger.
Enlarge image (© dpa - Report) According to folklore, the hybrid animals are shy and difficult to catch. They primarily eat other small animals, herbs and roots. But no matter how hard you try, the chance of finding a Wolpertinger in Germany are about as slim as finding a jackalope in the United States.
By Nicole Glass, Editor of The Week in Germany