Favorite Animals


I’ve been called out. It’s going to be very very hard for me to lay out my favorite animals in very many categories.

Favorite Primate: Mountain Gorilla, Lemur (tie). I also have strong partiality to bush babies. I do not care for the old world or “simple” monkeys. I think the chimpanzee and orangutan are fascinating, but neither have enough honor to rank in my favorites. Both are scandalous drunkards, rabble-rousers, and sexually incontinent. If you can possibly avoid it, do not live with a monkey.

The Mountain Gorilla is immensely powerful, yet peaceful. They have the most powerful bite of all mammals. A male gorilla can turn a car tire inside out with its hands, for fun. They are entirely vegetarian and avoid not only confrontation, but contact of any kind with other large animals. They are serene, immense, silent, hermetic, and steadfast. I love the deep black of their coats and skin. I love the overabundant muscularity coupled with grace. They are very highly intelligent without being combative.

Lemurs I will not say much about at this time. They do things in schedules. They…accept imitation well.

Favorite Monotreme: Duckbill Platypus. It’s hard enough being a marsupial in this world, what with having your entire ecology overturned by imported toads or rabbits. But being a monotreme is another level entirely. Try being a mammal that lays eggs. There are only two such animals on earth. You are probably aware that the platypus is weird. But I would wager even money you don’t know the half of it. For instance, it’s bill is actually an acute electromagnetic field sensor that can find creatures buried in mud. The male has a barb in his heel that is venomous. Venomous mammals are rare people, but there is only one vertebrate on this earth delivers venom using a claw.

Favorite Fatigue Hunter: African Wild Dog. A little known but fascinating mammal, it received brief notoriety in the “Planet Earth” television series. The species uses well-coordinated attacks with strategy yielding very high success rates. They are wildly colored. They symbolize to me the true spirit of dogness. I hang my head when I think of the domesticated fops paraded at dog shows.

Favorite Multi-Optimized Animal: Frigate Bird. When you really get to know the animal kingdom on this Earth, you realize that most creatures are optimized to do one thing really well. Well, the frigate bird is special in that it is supremely optimized in two ways. The bird takes long migrations for nesting and feeding seasons. It is a highly efficient long-range flier. The frigate bird feeds by snatching sea-fish from the water, so it also requires very high agility. If you have ever been impressed by seeing a hunting bird dive into the sea and return with a live fish in it’s beak, consider this: the frigate bird makes a habit of stealing those fish, out of the other birds’ mouths…while flying. Like most things, living or otherwise, that are highly specialized the frigate bird has a sparse yet fine beauty.

Favorite Ruminant: American Bison. Cape Buffalo comes in a close second here. Giraffe is also a strong consideration. What is more hoary, tougher, longer suffering than a bison? Possibly camels. But the camel is a whiner. It is one thing to face into a blizzard. Bison march into them. Behold a bison, and know what it is to never yield the essential.

Favorite Animal which is Probably an Alien Race Observing Us: Cuttlefish.

Favorite Extremely Rare Animal: Pangolin. Both times I visited Maasai Mara National Park, I asked our guides to let us know if anyone on the radio net mentioned a pangolin siting. The first guide merely laughed saying that he had only seen one once in his life. The other didn’t even know what it was. And these men LIVE in the animal’s habitat. Also, pangolins are bipedal. Stop and think about that for a moment if you can.

Favorite Safari Animal: Warthog. Can there be an animal with more sass? They peel out when they run. They can chase lions away.

I could go on here. I could go on and on. And maybe on another day I will. I could talk about moray eels and pygmy marmosets. There are grey parrots and dung beetles I haven’t mentioned. And don’t even get me started on who is really the villian among the lions and hyenas.

The animal kingdom is richer, and weirder than we imagine. A lifetime of consuming every fact of the natural world I could has shown me that even with all the media we have dedicated to it, the wonder and unknown is still considerable.

Also, it seems like I am blogging again.


4 Responses to “Favorite Animals”

  1. maureen Says:

    YESSSSSSSS! You are BAAACCK!! Don’t stop now, Toby!

    What a fantastic post. You blew my favorite animals post out of the water with your uncategorizable categories and your poetic yet scientific descriptions. You’re the best.

    And please do have a follow up blog post on this topic–tell us more!

  2. michelle Says:

    i heard tell of your return to the blogosphere. it is neither unnoticed nor unappreciated. that is to say, more straightforwardly, that was a killer post. not literally. we’ll leave the killing to the more aggressive of your favorite animals. cheers.

  3. mike Says:

    bravo. more please.

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