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Ragnhild and the Big Cats

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We were able to score an interview with the awesome Ragnhild from Green Lights Ahead. She writes a blog from Norway, but has spent time in Namibia with the big cats. (That’s in Africa for you domestic cats who don’t get out much.) She has also been other places. (We saw a picture of a kangaroo while looking through her site.) Ragnhild writes poetry and various other things, but we really like her pictures. You should definitely stop by.

Could you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m from Norway and am currently in nursing school. I’m an obsessive Netflix-watcher, love to dance, and have a passion for sleeping. However, most of all I’m a traveler. Anywhere, anytime.

Have you ever lived with a domestic cat?

No, sadly I haven’t. I hope to one day though!

Why were you out among the big cats?

I went to Namibia to be part of a volunteer project for some of the native species.

I helped take care of hurt animals and their environment

Did you actually live out in the open with them?

Yes and no. They were supposed to be in their designated (fenced off) areas; supposed being the keyword.

We got close… In all senses of the word.

It looks like some of your friends there were not cats or humans. What other species did you live amongst?

Meerkats, caracals, hyenas, vultures, vervets, warthogs, baboons (lots of baboons) and many more.

And ostriches!

Did you discover different personalities?

Yes! Cheetahs are kind of like dogs – they can be somewhat trained, but can also be deadly. Leopards are the scary version of housecats – love to be pet, but can, and probably will, kill you if hungry or annoyed.

As for the other animals I interacted with, baboons are the ones I remember the most. They can play all day long, and some of them are smart enough to figure out locks. In addition, a group of baboons is called a troop, and my scars can testify to that behind those cute eyes, there is a being surprisingly similar to a human – calculating, protective of its own, and yet violent and aggressive.

Baboon vs turtle!

 Did you learn anything from them?

I learned a lot. One of the most important ones probably being how to protect myself. I also developed a new understanding of how dominance works – true animalistic dominance.

There are four cheetahs in this photo, can you find them all?

 Did you have a favorite?

This is like asking me which of my children I love the most – if I had had children. But I did love a leopard named Missy Jo. She was the epitome of majestic and had a purr stronger than any I’ve ever heard. I also enjoyed the company of the caracals; their enclosure was my safe haven on bad days. Eventually, I did love a few of the baboons too, even though they probably hurt me the most.

This is her and one of her best friends. Probably one of my favorite pictures.

Do you miss them?

Sometimes I miss them more than words can express, while other times I’m glad that they are several flights away. I had the highest highs with them, but also my deepest lows.

But who wouldn’t miss this?

What advice do you have for someone who might want to do what you did?

Research, research, research. Find somewhere with a better insurance for your safety, and while there – remember that it’s probably a once in a lifetime; enjoy it, and don’t give up.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Just thank you for having me! Now I can cross Cheeseland of my Bucket List too!

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One Last Look at the Animal Olympics

(Words in italics are translated at the bottom.)

The sloth 10-meter race was amazingly quick this year, coming in at less than five days for the first time in Olympic history. The winner, Maria Perezoso of Costa Rico, said that she credited her intensive training regime with moving vines for her victory. She also said that the climate in Rio was similar to that at home which helped her breathing.

One of the best ideas this year was to separate the gorilla gymnastics from the rest of the competition due to the weight differences. After the tragic accident in London where John Gorilla misjudged his landing and fell on the monkey team practicing on the next apparatus, there was no question that something had to be done. This year’s competition was thankfully accident-free.

The biggest upset of the year was the victory of Lin-Lin Panda in the 20-meter tree climb, beating heavily favored A. M. Biri. Mr. Biri is challenging the results. The Olympic Committee is awaiting drug-testing results before making a decision.

Once again, Russian bears won all of the wrestling medals: Igor Obez’yana – gold; Sergei Obez’yana – silver; and Petya Obez’yana – bronze. The Canadian Alan Brown Bear ended in fourth place, the best result for a non-Russian bear in the last eight years. Russian cubs are taken into training when they are four months old, which probably accounts for their dominance. Unfortunately, there is some impact on social development and these bears rarely mate.

As expected, Samuel Duma dominated the short running events. His only real competition was I.A. Duma, his training partner. Hando Paa came in third, undoubted aided by the cheetah who was close behind. Mr. Paa said that instinct took over and propelled him to his bronze medal.

The long-distance running events took an unexpected turn when Dubai entered several camels in the races. On the hot track, Abraham Jamal easily outpaced his competition. Ishmael Jamal took the silver. Alexander Kudu from the African savannah was the third-place finisher. The camels will be definite contenders going forward. The other competitors found them rather rude and almost mean.

Unfortunately most of the swimming events had to be cancelled. When the water was tested prior to the first race, the officials found a significant amount of chlorine. Suspicion immediately focused on the Russians whose Siberian tigers had been disqualified due to failed drug testing. The tigers had been heavy favorites to win several events. The other theory is that the maintenance crew had been given the human requirements by mistake.

The other animals laughed at the idea of the hippos entering a team in the water polo competition. No one is doubting now that they have won the silver medal. Their style is definitely unorthodox, using their snouts to propel the ball. Their coach, Jonas Kiboko, credited the team’s desire to prove the critics wrong for the strong showing. Unfortunately, the elephant team ended the hippos’ run. Their long trunks provided superior accuracy, and the team went on to win their fifth consecutive Olympic gold medal.

Overall, the games were a huge success. Now the animals can relax until their human counterparts are finished and provide them with a ride home. Unfortunately, the animals lost their petition to attend the human games. Apparently the cheetah eating the capybara early in the games has led some humans to fear for their own lives. For their part, the animals are hoping that there are no hunters on the human side.

 

Spanish – sloth, Hausa – gorilla, Hausa – monkey, Russian (transliterated) – bear, Swahili – cheetah, gazelle, Arabic (transliterated) – camel, Swahili – kudu, Swahili – hippo (Translations provided by Google. The African translations are limited by the number of languages available.)