Daily Prompt: Menagerie

A giant panda eating bamboo

Giant panda by Chen Wu, CC-BY-2.0

Do I have animals in my life? I used to own pets as a kid: a feisty little Pekingese-German Shepherd cross named Ben, two budgies (a blue boy named Charlie and a green/yellow girl named Corky, but not at the same time), one cockatiel (Gene Kelly or Jean Kelly; we never figured out if he was a she, or vice versa, because no eggs were ever laid), and even a female guinea pig (Wendy, I believe). Charlie was great friends with Ben, but we could never really turn our backs when they played, lest Ben end up with more than a mouthful of feathers.

My dad did keep goldfish, angelfish, knife fish, glass catfish (which even laid eggs that turned into baby glass kittenfish 🙂 at one point) and even a number of koi for many years, but I would never call them pets in the sense that you could walk them, pick them up, cuddle with them, or take them to the park with you. Well, with the possible exception of koi, which, if introduced to humans early enough, can be petted (they have the softest tongues!) and hand fed.

Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard by Kevin Case, CC-BY-2.0

Animals have always fascinated me with their behaviours, shapes, and sizes. In many ways, I’ve found them easier to understand and relate to than humans. Maybe because speech isn’t necessary to make a connection with them. But despite my affinity for our furry friends (and vice versa), I don’t own pets any more.

Why, you ask? Two reasons. One: even Noah’s Ark would not be big enough to house all the animals, particularly the exotic and rare ones, I’d want in my menagerie. Two: I prefer to enter their world, rather than make them join mine. There are no cages or doors or timetables to keep them from roaming in a (more) natural habitat.

Golden-headed Lion Tamarin

Lion Tamarind by BeeFortyTwo, CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0

Sure, they come and go as they please, which can make for challenging photo opportunities, but, as I’m the one who’s poking my nose into their world, I should play by their rules. Especially when it comes to the birds who visit us every day (and the occasional squirrel or feline). That seems fair, doesn’t it? Plus, when I do nail a perfect shot (perfect, by my definition), it’s worth the 99% of shots that came out blurred or truncated.

Dhole at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, Kent, UK.

Dhole by Hans Hillewaert, CC-BY-SA-3.0

It’s also flattering to see how many creatures, whether they know me or not, will greet me like a long lost friend. That includes a long and growing furry repertoire of friends’ dogs, birds, one ferret, and cats that roam our neighborhood.

So to answer the original question: do I have animals in my life? Yes, I do, constantly — I just don’t own them — and like grandchildren (which I don’t have), I get to see them whenever they — or I — feel like it. 🙂

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