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"For many years it was a constant joke that Americans would ask South Africans about the safety of the streets, bacause of the wild animals."
- Johan Potgieter

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USA

The "urban legend" actually happened to me!
by Johan Potgieter, 40, Eagan, Minnesota
Sep 11, 1999

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I grew up in South Africa and two years ago, a journey of 25 hours brought me to the middle of the northen American continent.

For many years it was a constant joke that Americans would ask South Africans about the safety of the streets, bacause of the wild animals. We always subscribed this to ignorance of other countries and lands.

But on a recent trip to Texas, on a long stay-over in an airport, waiting for a delayed flight, I sat chatting to an airline representative and was asked that very question!! THE URBAN LEGEND ACTUALLY HAPPENED TO ME!

It was only when I bought my own house here in the midwest, that I realized where the myth of animals in South African streets come from.

Wildlife abounds in most American urban areas! In my own backyard in suburbia, I have rabbits, woodchucks, garter snakes, chipmunks and white tailed deer! So a very natural conclusion for an American is that it will also be the case in Africa! And of course they know that the wildlife of Africa includes some very dangerous creatures.

It is still very difficult to tell an American that 99% of all wildlife, with the exception of birds, have been eradicated from suburban and most of rural South Africa and is now mostly found in game parks and zoos.

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