PHIPPS invited two artists to create prints for the Spirit of Freedom collection, including fashion illustrator extraordinaire Gordon Flores. The Paris-based, Venice Beach-born illustrator imagined a herd of deadly desert fauna to adorn a classic bowling shirt and matching drawstring shorts, aptly titled “Danger in the Desert.”

A coyote, a mountain lion, a scorpion, and a snake embody the PHIPPS tradition of producing not only aesthetic, but educational prints: if you ever come face to face with one of these animals in the wild, don’t attempt your best Steve Irwin impersonation. Here are a few reasons why.
The coyote is often referred to as the “Dog of the Desert”, but don’t let its harmless nickname fool you: it may not be lethal, but it can still cause some serious damage. Because these aggressive canines are losing their fear of humans due to urbanization and being fed by unassuming people, they have been known to chase walkers or hikers. However, if you see one, don’t try and outrun them: they can reach speeds of 60 Km/h when pursuing their prey. Coyotes are also excellent swimmers, so favor climbing a tree, rather than jumping into a river.

The mountain lion, also known as the cougar or the puma, is a very timid species, and you would be lucky to ever spot one at all. They do their best to avoid humans, stalking silently in the underbrush at the quietest times of day. If a puma attacks, you won’t see it coming.

In some Native American mythology, seeing a cougar or hearing its screams is an evil omen, and cougars are often associated with witchcraft. Alternatively, among eastern tribes such as the Seminoles and Shawnees, cougars are considered noble animals.

Like with many large mammals such as bears, the best way to deflect a cougar attack is to make yourself appear as large as possible, shout, slowly back away, and throw whatever is within reach.
The scorpion may be the oldest terrestrial animal still living, but that only makes it more terrifying. Scorpion stings can provoke convulsions, paralysis, and even death.
Yet- as dangerous as a scorpion sting may be, recent research has also discovered useful compounds in their venom- the Deathstalker scorpion’s venom includes chlorotoxin, for example, which has inspired new methods for both diagnosing and treating certain cancers.

There are a variety of snakes found in North American deserts, not all of which are cause for panic. Only the Tiger rattlesnake, and the Mojave rattlesnake pose a serious threat to humans.The Mojave’s toxin in particular is 10 times more toxic than any other rattlesnake in North America. Both species have a very large rattle, and can produce loud sounds like cicadas. If you hear anything like this, don’t hang around to find out where it’s coming from.

The “Danger in the Desert” print is certainly not meant to deter you from ever venturing into North America’s picturesque deserts, but to make a more conscientious explorer of you. It’s important to remember that while these animals represent a low risk for humans, we are still on their land, and they will always defend themselves if they feel threatened. Stay safe, and most importantly, stay curious.