Taz the Looney Tunes character is based on real Tasmanian devils. (Looney Tunes)

Taz the Looney Tunes character is based on real Tasmanian devils. (Looney Tunes)

Tex snarls in his enclosure at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo. Real Tasmanian devils are different from the cartoon character. (AP)

Tex snarls in his enclosure at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo. Real Tasmanian devils are different from the cartoon character. (AP)

Tasmanian devil cubs fight over some meat during a feeding session. Like Taz, real Tasmanian devils seem to stay very hungry. (AP)

Tasmanian devil cubs fight over some meat during a feeding session. Like Taz, real Tasmanian devils seem to stay very hungry. (AP)

Veterinarian Larry Vogelnest performs a health check on a Tasmanian devil joey (baby). Books and cartoons may give human-like qualities to animal characters. But in real life, animals don’t talk or wear clothes. (AP)

Veterinarian Larry Vogelnest performs a health check on a Tasmanian devil joey (baby). Books and cartoons may give human-like qualities to animal characters. But in real life, animals don’t talk or wear clothes. (AP)

A sign warns drivers to beware of Tasmanian devils in Tasmania state, Australia. Tasmanian devils, like all animals, are God’s creation. But they are not made in His image like people are. (AP)

A sign warns drivers to beware of Tasmanian devils in Tasmania state, Australia. Tasmanian devils, like all animals, are God’s creation. But they are not made in His image like people are. (AP)

Walking, Talking Taz

Posted: January 1, 2021

Tasmanian devils will eat almost anything—from bugs to bunnies. And yes, they would also devour Bugs Bunny if he was a real rabbit.

In the old Looney Tunes cartoon, all animals run for their lives when the Tasmanian Devil (Taz for short) whirls across the screen. Taz is half tornado and half very hungry animal who eats the food, the plate, and the table.

What did Taz’s writers and animators get right? Well, real Tasmanian devils are very hungry. Their quick metabolisms cause them to eat about 15 percent of their body weight each day. So they are always looking for more meat to chow down on.

Tables and plates? Not so much. It’s hard to watch Loony Tunes without wondering if the creators of Taz had ever seen a real Tasmanian devil. The real ones don’t stand up and whirl around. They walk on four muscular legs. In the cartoons, Bugs Bunny always outsmarts Taz. That’s another (fun) inaccuracy. In a real battle with a bunny, the Tasmanian devil would win, no question.

Taz’s creators did something people do all the time. You’ve probably even done it while playing or telling stories. They anthropomorphized an animal. That 10-dollar word stands for a simple idea: giving humanlike qualities to a non-human object or creature. Taz can talk. He can stand upright and have a battle of wits. And these qualities make Looney Tunes fans love him.

Anthropomorphism is a helpful tool in play, in reading, and even in watching cartoons. It helps us relate to things not like ourselves. (And real Tasmanian devils are very unlike us . . . unless we have the worst manners in the world!) But like all ideas, anthropomorphizing animals can be taken too far. In extreme cases, people twist it to say, “Animals are people too.”

Animals are not people. Why not? People are made in the image of God. We bear characteristics that come straight from Him. These qualities show who God is. Animals are God’s creation like we are—but not just like we are. They are not made in His image, even though they may bear marks that point back to their Maker.