Bright, loud, weird and delicate

I photographed this monkey in Roatan, Honduras, in March 2011.

I photographed this monkey in Roatan, Honduras, in March 2011.

“I wish I could convey the perfection of a seal slipping into water or a spider monkey swinging from point to point or a lion merely turning its head. But language founders in such seas. Better to picture it in your head if you want to feel it…I spent more hours than I can count a quiet witness to the highly mannered, manifold expressions of life that grace our planet. It is something so bright, loud, weird and delicate as to stupefy the senses.” Yann Martel

I’ve made no secret of my lack of respect for most television programs, but I love the way TV has enabled us to see animals in ways that were never possible before.  While nothing can replace the thrill of encountering a wild animal face to face, such encounters are brief at best, and can hardly give us a true representation of these fascinating creatures.

Matt loves to watch PBS and Animal Planet, both of which sometimes stop me in my tracks if I pass through the room when an interesting animal show is on.  It’s really tempting to sit down and watch, even if I don’t have time.  In any case, I’m happy that Matt gets so much enjoyment from watching them.

Martel is right that words are inadequate to describe animals in all their stunning variety, but photos and especially videos can give us the next best thing to a real-life encounter.  And a well-made nature film, or really even a funny amateur YouTube clip, is a great way to grab a quick escape from the stresses of everyday human life.

If you’ve spent any time at all on the internet, you must surely have a few favorite animal videos.  Feel free to send us some links to share here – and let’s have a wild time!

One year ago today

A mirror and a book

20 Comments

  1. Susan

    If Yann Martel, who is so excellent at verbally conveying a concept, can’t do it, I’d best not even try! It’s true anyway. Animals don’t move based on the confines of language.

    • Thank goodness for photos and videos! Still not quite the same as real life, though.

  2. I love to watch the animals….and especially how they interact with eachother and with humans as well! We have a cat here who just reminds us daily of how their little hearts can melt with ours to form lasting bonds. Great post Julia!

    • Thank you Misifusa! Animals are a continual source of joy to us. This morning Jeff woke me up and told me that there were lots of woodpeckers, cardinals and squirrels all hopping around the back yard pecking away at something — seeds scattered by the wind? We weren’t sure, but it was fun to see those red-headed woodpeckers scurrying around on foot. Usually we see or hear them only in the trees.

      • How lovely! Did you get a photo?

        • No, and I was frustrated that I couldn’t. I was still in my robe and slippers, and didn’t have my good camera (with an adequate telephoto) to shoot them from indoors, and it was COLD! Plus I was in a rush to get ready for church, since Jeff knows I like to sleep until the very last minute. 🙂 I don’t know if I’ll ever again see even one woodpecker in the grass, let alone two! A video would have been even better.

  3. I just recently shared these videos with my sister and neice. They found them hysterical. They’re from a BBC show called “Walk on the Wild Side” & put human voices to animal footage. Hilarious. Here ya go: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=b-ySLnBFPv4

    • These are so funny. We watched them (or some of them, anyway) at the Puakeas’ home recently and we all got the silly giggles. That zebra clip must have been the origin of the now-ubiquitous “ROTFL” – literally! ALLEN! ALLEN! ALLEN!

  4. raynard

    Julia, I’m still a “Mutual of Omaha”Wild Kingdom kind guy”.. ( Dont get me started on the cajin cook with the red suspender “Justin” “I gareetee lol”.. Another sign of spring in this area is when”people take off early from work to go to the Philadelphia Zoo.( 2nd oldest zoo in the country..I think the first or 2nd Friday in April if the weather is nice..Maybe this year we might get down to the aquarium in V.A this year. Went to the one in Baltimore last year, had a ball..Let me go see if I can find some of those”tin can that Christmas cookies come in. ( might need your help). Be blessed

    • Raynard, the Philadelphia Zoo and both aquariums you mentioned are all places Jeff and I need to visit, having never been to any of them. I didn’t realize the PHL zoo was that big – second only to San Diego, I’m guessing? I think it’s best to go to the zoo before it gets too hot – it seems as if the animals get just as lethargic as I do in the heat! The dollar stores are usually great places to find those tins, but they might have stashed all the ones leftover from Christmas. I bet you can find some in RED though! Have a great week!

  5. We never get bored watching the animals. That monkey looks so sweet.

    • The monkeys at the nature reserve were sweet and adorable, very unafraid of people. They hopped onto our shoulders when the park guides gave us snacks to offer them. One stood on my shoulders and stretched his body over my head, leaning on it as if on a table while snacking, very funny! I felt as if I was wearing a very heavy hat that moved. We had been warned to stash our glasses, earrings and basically anything that could be easily stolen, because evidently the monkeys are quite adept at snatching things and carrying them off to some hidden treasure trove. At one point one of the monkeys got annoyed with another one and showed some sharp teeth! That made me a bit less inclined to want to grab on and take it home with me. 🙂 They are such fun to watch, I could easily have stayed there all day.

  6. We used to really enjoy ‘The Dog Whisperer’ when we had Buddy. Not because he needed much correction but we always found it interesting at how naive people could be and were usually surprised at their surprise that the answer to their dilemma was so easy.

    I don’t watch too many animal programs because they usually make me cry. I do love Pinterest for all the cuteness that can be found there. I wonder if Matt would find that fun? Collecting animals on his own board?

    I saw this on Jay Leno the other night and we laughed only because Jay was mimicking a wife saying, “did you remember to lock the door” , but thank goodness nothing bad happened. This couple were totally oblivious to the bear even though he was a heartbeat away. The event was recorded on the home security monitor. Gads!

    • This is hilarious. It made me laugh out loud. I love the way the bear steps back when he sees them (as if politely waiting for them to go by), casually turning his head as if totally casual about seeing them, then just ambles by as if asking “Hmm, what’s up with them?” At the end, I wondered if that man had seen the bear and was trying to get inside in a hurry – if so, where was the Mrs.? 🙂 BTW, Eric has captured bears on his home security camera more than once I think, although he lives in the mountains so it’s not quite as unexpected.

      • I know, isn’t that something? It seemed like the bear must have followed them to the car and hopefully the Mrs got in the car quickly. I guess they were visiting their daughter and that’s her house.

        Goes to show you how desensitized these animals are becoming since we’re encroaching on their habitat so much. It’s actually not good for the bear to become so complacent because if he continues to visit the urban sprawl he might be injured by someone who could over react. Friends of mine have a second home in the Canadian Rockies, they catch bears on their night cam and actually have photo’s of a Grizzly momma and her cubs just outside their pickup truck…Yikes. We went hiking with them and saw two brown bears up a head. We knew they were close because the bear skat we passed was still steaming. Our friend Roy says he doesn’t have to outrun the bear, he only has to outrun his wife…LOL

        • I heard that same thing about tigers, just be sure you can run faster than the slowest person in your group. 🙂 We worry about the deer who come around our townhome here in Alexandria. It’s one thing to see them in York, where they are still in some danger of being hit by cars or poached or whatever, but to see them in an urban area like this, so unafraid of people, is a little bit off somehow. I absolutely love being able to watch them up close, but I do fear that they are sitting ducks for any sort of danger. I also think that animals who aren’t afraid of people may not be too sharp (I think intelligence levels vary in animals as they do in people), and are thus in more danger.

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