Truth is, I have so many more on my favourite list and it was so hard to pick the best out them to feature it here. So I decided in a true adult fashion, write them all down on pieces of paper and pick them at random! Please be aware that the top five here in no way reflects the order of my preferences. Bottom line, I love them all.
Here it goes with a quick history on why I fell in love with each of them. I have also included some links to some websites which provide more details about each animal if you get thirsty for more information.
(1) Short-beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus)
How can you not love this face? Seriously! The first time I met an Echidna was in Tasmania Australia. Tasmania has to be one of the most beautiful places I have been to. I was driving along the highway when I saw this slow moving brown spikey animal crossing the road about 20 metres ahead. I quickly pulled the car over, jumped out and ran towards this animal to check it out. At this point, I had only ever heard of them from nature magazines and some environmental posters. It was pure delight seeing it in flesh. I cannot describe the intense love at first sight feeling when I saw it. Being a highway, cars were tearing down the road and the last thing I wanted was a roadkill situation. Instinctively, I took my scarf off and placed it gently over its spikey body…tucked my hands under the belly and swiftly picked it up and got it across the road safely. I then spent a further five minutes just watching it go about its business as it briefly looked up at me and went on its way! Those beady eyes melted my heart.
Later I found out that Echidnas are one of the two only mammals which lay eggs! The other is a Platypus, two Aussie natives 🙂 If you are keen to find out more about these fascinating creature, click here.
(2) Manatee (Trichechus)
This gentle sweet aquatic animal is an absolute pleasure to sit and observe. When I first saw a Manatee, my first thoughts were…oh my…how majestic and calm. There was this sense of overwhelming innocence projected through their eyes, I cannot quite explain it. Some years ago, I was visiting Singapore Zoo as I always do when I go back to visit my family. As I was walking around with my family, I noticed a queue ahead of me. Curiosity got the better of me and for no reason, decided to run forward and see what the fuss was about. To my glee, I found out that it was a ‘meet and feed’ the Manatees session for a small fee. I was lucky that I saw this on time as the feeding session times are extremely limited and so it should be! I handed the money and in turn was handed a small basket full of boiled carrots and potatoes to feed the Manatees.
From my memory, there were about six adults there. It was an unreal feeling feeding them as they slurped up the boiled goodies and continue looking at you with this deep yearning for more. There as I stood feeding them, tears started rolling down my cheeks. I was so overwhelmed by their beauty and good nature. Later I found out that Manatee populations were in danger as they fell prey to human consumption and frequent boat accidents. Luckily, there are a number of dedicated conservation groups doing everything they can to protect the future of Manatees. Thank goodness for that!
If you are keen to find out more about these gentle sweethearts, click here.
It is almost rare meeting someone lacking an affinity for elephants. Searching my childhood memory, I must have been about six when my parents brought me to Singapore Zoo. At that time (which was ages ago), you could ride on the Asian elephants there. Naturally, my parents thought it was the best experience for me. I remember being mounted on top of an Asian elephant. There was no fear, just complete awe of being so close to this enormous gorgeous animal. The first thing I recall was the smell, like you knew it was the smell of an elephant. I really liked it and thought, wow…how very special! This close encounter progressed with me using my little hands and gently stroking its back as I wanted to know how its skin felt. The hair was very tough and coarse.
At that moment everything tied up for me, the smell, the feel and the majestic beauty which equaled to one thing…ELEPHANTS! This rapid love affair made me feel so bad for riding the elephant. All I could think about was my weight the poor fella had to carry around. I did not even dare to rest my feet on its body. It was a very stressful five minutes for my young life. Words cannot describe my relief when I got off! Unfortunately, I did have one more elephant ride in my life. This was when I was a young adult holidaying in Thailand and before my conservationist days. It was truly an extremely unpleasant ride for me as I felt so guilty and angry with myself for being pressured to do this and for not saying no. Again, I refused to rest my feet on the elephant which made it one wobbly ride. Now, I just love looking at them…definitely not riding them!
I have seen a Gorilla only once and that was also in a zoo. However, I have spent countless hours with them via my television screen thanks to documentaries and the movie ‘Gorillas in the mist’. I have watched ‘Gorillas in the mist’ at least 30 times. Yes, 30 times. It could be more. This movie was based on the famous primatologist, Dian Fossey and the pivotal role she played in saving the Mountain Gorillas in Africa. One thing became very clear to me when I watched the movie, the fragility of their lives despite their size and strength. I highly recommend this movie for anyone interested in Gorillas. When I learned more about Gorillas, I realised that they are shy and non-aggressive. They are very intelligent and capable of developing strong emotional bonds. How awesome is that?
Honestly, I don’t feel I am doing justice here as to why I love them so much. In fact, I struggled very much writing this section. Not because I do not understand or could clearly justify my love for them…but there are some things in life which cannot be explained so easily and this is one of it. I can only encourage you to learn more about them. By doing that, I hope you will learn to love them as much as I do.
(5) Red-river Hog (Potamochoerus porcus)
This is a recently developed love affair. To be precise, it happened in October 2014. I did a volunteer zookeeper program with the Singapore Zoo for five weeks. It was a full time commitment, and oh boy was it worth it! As you can see from my list of animals, so many of my first encounters had been in a Zoo. It was only natural that I volunteered my time to give something back to all the beautiful animals in the zoo. My first posting as a volunteer was in the South-East Asian mammals section and the Red-river hogs were part of it.
For the first week, I was completely oblivious of their presence or even the fact they belonged to this section. One fine day, the senior keeper handed me a silver bowl full of yummy freshly cut fruits and asked to go feed the river hogs. The look on my face was priceless as I was simply clueless as to what he was saying…what? River? Hogs? What on earth is that!! Then, I received a couple of quick directions and instructions. I was to walk through foliage for a very short distance and lean over the wall to feed the hogs. As I emerged from the foliage at the wall, I peered down and gasped. Down below were two stunning Red-river hogs excitedly staring back at me. They knew in my hands, I held their goodies. They knew I was coming. I set about to feed them and stood there for a few minutes observing them. So curious and playful! I felt so happy watching them. The rest was history, love was born and its here to stay.
Curious about the Red-river Hogs ?
That’s all folks! Thank you so very much for reading my post and I hope you enjoyed it. Don’t forget to share about your favourite animal too.
(1) Short-beaked Echidna – ausemade / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
(2) Manatee – flickkerphotos / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND
(3) Elephant – Arno Meintjes Wildlife / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
(4) Gorilla – Roger Luijten / Foter / CC BY
(5) Red-river Hog – archer10 (Dennis) (51M Views) / Foter /CC BY-SA