Lonely Planet Writer

If you go down to the (Bavarian) woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise! Maybe…

There is a most unusual, petite fabled beast that been used to fool naïve tourists visiting the Bavarian Alps for centuries, and it is about as far from a teddy bear as can be.

A mythical Wolpinger on display in a Munich shop
A Wolpertinger in a souvenir shop in Munich. Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images

Meet the weirdly wonderful, mythical Wolpertinger. This bizarre looking creature is a hybrid of several animals whose legend, at the very least, has been alive since the 16th century.

No one knows when or why the creation came to be, but the story goes that it was borne of romantic involvement between a hare and a roebuck, and then a fox and a duck, and then…you get the idea. Even more convolutedly, in order to see a Wolpertinger in its natural habitat, the wildlife enthusiasts must be an attractive, single woman accompanied by the ‘right man’, visiting a forest in the Bavarian Alps during a full moon.

The tale was told to gullible visitors, with locals claiming that the Frankenstein creations put together by mischievous taxidermists were normal local wildlife. Despite the deception, people around the world have proven to have an affinity with the tall tale shown through tattoos, artwork and even a beer named after the Wolpertinger.

If you’re keen to guarantee a Wolpertinger sighting without all the faff, a collection can be found in California’s Museum of Hoaxes and lots of the stuffed enigmas have stayed closer to home, decorating traditional Bavarian hotels, restaurants and pubs.