I was recently reunited with my childhood collection of Safari Cards. I’d never known they even had a name, and have no memory of how I ever got them. According to this enthusiast’s website, they were available by “mail subscription” only — i.e. you couldn’t get them in retail locations. So who knows how I ever got any.
I still have vivid memories of being entranced by these cards as a kid when I was six or seven years old. The symbols at the top of the card, showing the creature’s geographic area, the habitat, and the — what? class and phylum? who knows — somehow seemed so profound to me. (Maybe because there was no key or legend to explain the symbols.) This was clearly science, bitches.
And the text on the back of the cards certainly felt like science. I don’t think I ever understood a single word on the backs of these cards. Who were they aimed at, anyway?? The distinguished zoologist who enjoys collecting photos of the world’s animal species on glossy cardstock? This is a direct quote from the back of the goat card shown above:
At first glance the Rocky Mountain goat looks like a compromise between a proper goat and a chamois. It is, as it happens, closely related to the latter but is a goat in name only. Nevertheless it and the chamois are sometimes referred to as ‘goat-antelopes’.
Interestingly, these cards were originally written in French, and came from Lausanne, Switzerland. I guess the Swiss have higher expectations for the reading levels of their nerdy kids.