I seem to remember, at some point in elementary school, watching a series of short films starring a squirrel that demonstrated road safety, but I could not remember his name. I thought it was cool that the animals spoke like the people on Masterpiece Theater. I was suddenly reminded while watching a news story about the history of the squirrel population in the UK...and there he was, Tufty the Safety Squirrel!
Tufty Fluffytail was created in 1953 and the mascot for The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. He and his friends introduced clear and simple safety messages to children. I love squirrels, but doesn't it seem ironic to pick one as a road safety expert? When did you ever see one look both ways before crossing the street? The only squirrels I've seen on roads are sadly, victims of squirrel suicide which is what they excel at. Nonetheless, in 1973 a series of videos were made featuring Tufty and his pals and shown for many years. Their primative stop-motion animation is a bit herky jerky, but had a charm all their own. At the end of my post I've included one from YouTube.
Now kids, what can we all learn from watching this video? Well first, that Tufty is the only squirrel I've ever come across that loves ice cream. Do you think he asks for extra nuts on his cone? And second, that cheeky little bugger Willie Weasel is a troublemaker! What else would we expect from a weasel? By the way, this isn't the first time Willie got run over by a car in a Tufty video. There's another one on YouTube where you can also hear the thunk. Ouch. Poor Willie! Miracle he hasn't become roadkill. I want to know who's driving the car that hit poor Willie...Henry "Hotshot" Hedgehog? I think I smell a lawsuit coming on. And maybe Willie's mummy isn't available to walk with him to the ice cream van. Maybe she's a single mother weasel who has to work because her husband left her...that weasel!
Remember, kids, always take your mummy with you when you want to go to the ice cream van! Tufty has his own website, if you're interested in checking out more about his history in British pop culture.
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