14

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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8

Inter-Species Peace: An Elephant’s Perspective

 

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You may recall that at last year’s staff meeting, I said that I was following a group of sub-Saharan animals who were trying to model a peace plan. A year later, it doesn’t seem that they have made much progress.

Things got off to a rocky start. A lioness offered to host the first session. She served zebra pate as one of the appetizers. Zebra pate is highly prized by the lions. Not so much by the zebras and other herbivores. The session ended before it began. The hyenas scarfed the pate before they left.

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The lions sent off an apology of sorts: “We are sorry if the vegetarians on our task force were offended by our food. We did not understand that they would be offended if we ate our foods in our homes. We thought it would be sufficient to not eat our guests.”

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A little terrified by these comments, the herbivores refused to meet with the carnivores. Finally a chimpanzee came up with a compromise. First, there would be no food served and no talk of killing. Second, the herbivores would be taken to and from the meetings in a vehicle provided by the humans (with no humans present). Third, the lions would send a male representative since they were the less predatory gender. Fourth, no animal would be allowed to attend meetings without signing the agreement.

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After some discussion, the animals agreed to sign. The chimpanzee thought that the group was on its way to showing the humans how to cooperate. Particularly when they discovered that the male lion was content to sleep in the sun through most of the meetings.

So they moved onto water rights.

Hippo: I don’t think it’s right that the elephants get to drink so much water.

Elephant: At least we don’t lie in it all day and release “organic matter” into it.

Wildebeest: The water does taste like hippo sometimes.

Hippo: How do you know? Have you ever eaten a hippo?

Leopard: Not to create another crisis, but it does taste of hippo.

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Hippo (offended): Fine. At least, I don’t wallow in mud like the warthog over there.

Warthog: What does that have to do with anything? You’re just being a bully.

Chimp: OK everyone, let’s get back on topic. How do we share the water?

Antelope: How about if the meat-eaters would let us get a drink in peace?

Cheetah: You’ve obviously never had to fight for food. We have to take it when we can find it.

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Gnu: I knew this wasn’t going to work. It’s always back to food for the predators.

Cheetah: It’s not our fault that we have to eat meat to survive.

Hyena: Or that some of you are so tasty.

(Everyone glares at him. He slinks away.)

Elephant: See? That’s what I mean.

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Lion (yawning): Will you all just be quiet? I just ate two gazelles and you’re ruining my digestion.

 

  “Ace” Sopp reporting from Nairobi

(pictures courtesy of Google Images)

9

Peacock in the City

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We are here in South Mumbai to meet Dinesh Mora, star of the hot Indian reality show, Real Peacocks of Mumbai. We arrive at a very exclusive gated community, protected by two Bengal tigers. The one at the driver’s side seems surprised to see a mongoose at the wheel. When he checks his guest list, he starts to chuckle, “Going to Mora’s, I see.”

We find a cul-de-sac of incredibly refined neutral-hued homes. Except the one painted bright pink. We get out, look around and see several limos with their macaque drivers waiting. The closest one is glaring at us. He comes over and asks if we’re friends of Mora. We explain about the interview.

 

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The macaque grimaces. “I should have known. Since he’s moved in, it’s been a circus around here. I don’t know why they let him in. Everyone else here is high-level government; leopards mainly with a few lions. He’s a bird! Parties all the time. And look at that paint! Some royal bird of the gods!”

Andi, the photographer and I nod politely and walk to the door. It opens as we approach. It is Anika, Dinesh’s personal assistant. “Hurry up! Dinesh has been waiting for you!”

 

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We walk into a large open room where a large handsome peacock is having some sort of oil massaged into his chest feathers. “Hello there! I’m running behind. We’ll only have time for a couple of pictures before we go. Remember: left side or full-face only. No close-ups of the tail.” Andi grins at me and takes a few shots.

Dinesh dashes out and gets on a vintage Royal Enfield motorcycle. He wants several pictures on it. “Girls love guys on bikes.” Andi poses him several ways before he roars off. Anika stays to do some work.

 

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By the time we get to the studio, a stylist is trying to undo the wind damage to Dinesh’s tail feathers. “Be careful! You know I have the best-looking feathers here. Damage them and I’ll make sure you never work again!” She calmly continues her work.

“You! Picture girl! Come over here. I want some close-ups.” Andi glares at me and walks over.

 

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I ask him how he likes living in Mumbai after spending the rest of his life in the north. “Well, I do miss Mum and my sisters. I’m trying to talk them into coming down here. I have plenty of room. The house is too big for me alone and I certainly am not ready to settle down yet.” He winks at me.

What does he think of the neighborhood? “Truthfully, I wish I’d done a little more research. I wanted someplace quiet so I could relax, but I might as well be living in a cemetery. Apparently none of them have friends. I can’t help that I eat outside and they have servants to prepare their meals. Besides, I keep thinking one of them is going to eat me.”

 

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He’s called to the set. It’s a pretty typical scene from what I’ve heard. The four guys go to a bar, meet some girls they know. They all get a table. A couple of beautiful peahens walk by. Two of the guys get up to talk to them. Their girls get upset and go up to the peahens. Feathers fly. The guys go home, have a drink and talk about girls.

Dinesh goes back to make-up. He wants more oil on his feathers. “You would not believe how those lights can dry you out.”

 

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A couple of female fans some back. One of them coos, “We’d love to rub oil into you.” Andi almost gags. Dinesh smiles and points at the bottles. The girls get to work.

“mmmm” Dinesh looks at us. “Get a couple more pictures, and I think we’re done. Try to avoid their faces. I don’t want any jealous ladies out there.” He thinks for a minute. “And don’t forget. I have final approval on all copy and pictures.”

We leave without telling him that he never got around to asking for a contract.

 

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Riki T Tavi, Asia Correspondent

(all pictures courtesty of Google Images)

5

Lions and Tigers and Bears (and Kittens)

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The lionesses planned a big night out

That the male lions weren’t happy about.

The cubs whined and cried

Til Mom’s nerves were fried

And so she went out and let them all pout.

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Tony and Tom Tiger ran away

Into the forest so they could play.

Their mother called out,

And they had no doubt

They needed to get home without delay.

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Polar, Kodiak, Panda, Brown, Black

Which bear thinks I’d be a tasty snack?

“Ugh,” says Brown Bear.

What have you there?

Tuna? Now that will cause a snack attack!

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She was a small, adorable ball of fur,

Who had the sweetest, most endearing purr.

But at time for bed,

She laid on my head.

And until breakfast time, she wouldn’t stir.

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Why are kittens made so darn incredibly cute?

Soft fur, little meows, lots of cuddles to boot.

With energy to spare,

And the down time quite rare,

You forgive the disgusting dead mouse in your boot.

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(pictures from Google images)

0

Animal Crackers

A jilted, angry young man named Brian

Searched afar for a world-famous lion.

He hoped the hungry beast

On his girlfriend would feast.

“He’s really tasty,” slurped the young scion.

 

A lovesick beaver built a great dam

To win the heart of his true love Pam.

Dad wasn’t impressed.

“Get rid of that pest.”

So the beaver, with Pam, had to scram.

 

Watching a cat sleep in a sunbeam,

Who can doubt that she really does dream?

She’s ruling the world,

Or on a lap curled.

Or nibbling a mouse dipped in some cream.

 

A big announcement was due at the zoo.

The exact details no one really knew.

The secret was kept

From all by the vet.

Of the birth of the first caribou-gnu.

          (perfect couple)

 

Bison and buffalo, what do you think?

He asked his friend as they went for a drink.

She said we can’t mate

When I asked for a date.

It’s not like I’m an Australian skink!

        (imperfect couple)

 

You don’t look like a great ape to me.

Why, you can’t even swing from a tree!

You can blame my school

They thought it quite cruel.

We might damage a branch, don’t you see?

(all images courtesy of Google Images)