My mom loves making fun cakes for my birthday (last year she did Jane Austen novels). This year, she went with an animal theme—always a hit with me, the zoologist. These cupcakes are from the cute book What’s New Cupcake? and this bunch of flamingos, hippos, and crocodiles look straight out of the African jungle.
Or do they?
Because I love to over-analyze things, let’s take a look at how the cupcakes are made and also what species they might represent.
The flamingos are made from mini-cupcakes. The wings are candy melts shaped free-hand on wax paper. The neck is a pretzel stick dipped in candy melts, which helps attach the head, made of a jelly bean, and the beak, made of half a banana Runt. Black decorator gel makes the eyes and beak tip.
There are six species of flamingos, with habitats ranging all over the world, including Africa. However, only 2 species have yellow beaks, the closely-related Andean Flamingo and James’s Flamingo, both only found high in the Andes of South America.
Personally, I think these guys look like James’s Flamingos, which have a brighter yellow beak with less black on the tip; if they had legs we could more clearly determine their species based on the color.
These guys are both made on regular cupcakes with Nutter Butters and Froot Loops, plus frosting for decoration. The hippopotamus (H. amphibius) is a semi-aquatic animal found only in Africa. This guy looks about as accurate as a cupcake can be, although perhaps a little too brown/orange. The crocodile on the other hand…
…might not be a crocodile at all.
Take a look at its snout; that’s one of best ways to distinguish crocodilian species. Crocodile snouts tend to be longer and thinner, and teeth from both upper and lower jaws are visible when the mouth is closed. Here’s a lovely comparison from Encyclopædia Britannica:
Looking at these images, I think our tasty green friend is actually an alligator, a genus with only two species, neither of which are native to Africa (one U.S., one China).
So in fact, none of these cupcakes live on the same continent. They did live on my dining room table, but not for long. They were as delicious as they were pretty.