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Photo: Look at how cute squirrels are

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Our photo of the day reveals the sweet face of an often overlooked creature.

This photo by David Genney has a message: Squirrels are cute!

But alas, not everyone thinks so. They can wreak havoc in attics in the suburbs and rural areas, and in the city they are so ubiquitous that we barely notice them. But this wasn't always the case. Did you know that squirrels were specifically brought into cities to add some health-inducing rural charm? Here's the quick explanation, as we wrote in "Where did city squirrels come from?"

"It was in the late 19th century that landscape parks really took root and cities began implementing wide expanses of green space. With an understanding that nature and fresh air were efficacious curatives for the maladies that ailed, 'pleasure grounds' and urban parks became a place to enjoy the health-giving effects of nature.

And as parks became more prominent, squirrels became the focus of attention, as Etienne Benson of the University of Pennsylvania writes in the Journal of American History. Urban reformers, who thought of the squirrel as a rural mascot, wanted to bring the animal in to places like Manhattan’s Central Park in order to create 'a bucolic atmosphere that was entertaining, enlightening, and salubrious.' In 1847 three squirrels were released in Philadelphia's Franklin Square and were provided with food and boxes for nesting. By the 1870s, the squirrel trend was in full swing."

So there you go ... go out and hug a squirrel today!

Would you like to see your nature photo featured as the TreeHugger photo of the day? Join TreeHugger’s Reader Photo Pool on Flickr and add your pictures to the group. Alternatively, send it to photos@treehugger.com with "photo of the day" in the subject line.

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