Unicorns are real.
Or at least, there's a creature on the brink of extinction that some think looks a lot like our favorite fabled horse-like beast. Plus, it's just about as rare. There may only be a few dozen of the antelope-like saola left on earth, and one man is trying to find them.
William deBuys, who penned "The Last Unicorn: A Search for One of Earth’s Rarest Creatures" in 2011, has been traveling to Laos in Southeast Asia to find the saola since it was discovered by scientists in 1992.
"Its long, nearly straight horns are elegantly tapered, and in profile they seem to blend into a single horn, giving the creature the otherworldly look of a unicorn," deBuys wrote in a Huffington Post blog last month.
"At best, the existing population of saola numbers between a few dozen and a few hundred, making it nearly as rare and hard to find as a unicorn," he added. "Even stranger, its disposition, except when the animal is directly threatened, appears to be as gentle as that of the unicorns of medieval European lore."
The last saola was spotted by a camera trap on Sept. 7, 2013, he told National Geographic over the weekend. The mammal's biggest threat is poachers on the Laos-Vietnam border, he said.
But there is still hope in bringing the real-life unicorn back from the brink.
The quest is perhaps the oldest story in human literature, whether it’s the Odyssey or Gilgamesh or the Jews leaving Egypt and looking for the Promised Land. We have quest stories deep in our cultural bones. But in many cases the quest doesn’t end with finding the thing that was initially sought.
That was true of our quest in Nakai Nam Theun. But we found something else. We had an encounter with deep beauty. And this encounter changed my life. I learned something I hadn’t known before about the balancing of fatalism with optimism in life, and making those two opposites cohabit peacefully in my own heart.