Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Animal Magic

Last year I learned the hard way what prolonged and intense focusing on war and torture issues could do to my emotions. Spending most of 2008 recovering from severe anxiety made me realise that I’m not the sort of person who can do this for long; I may be able to campaign, but I also need deep relaxation and light relief. And it’s strange to find that one source of pleasure is what interested me most as a small boy. Animals are calming, fascinating and beautiful, and the smaller furry species nearly always bring a smile to my face!

Last Friday, Angie and I went to Drusilla’s Park, between Eastbourne and Lewes. I don’t like to see animals confined, but these were in relatively spacious and relaxed surroundings and were mostly small creatures, including meerkats, marmosets, mongooses, lemurs, otters and two wonderful if extremely sleepy (because nocturnal) fennec foxes. I was getting as close as I could, and snapping away happily with my camera. The highlight had to be the ring-tailed lemurs, which lived in an open space the public could walk through; we could have touched them if we’d been allowed to. With their long, banded black-and-white tails and startling orange eyes they were stunning, endearing creatures, and it was a beautiful sunny day to see them, with the green curves of Windover Hill (my favourite place close to home) overlooking the scene. One lemur leaped at eye level between Angie and me, from one side of the path to the other, while others sat basking on their bottoms in the sun, grooming each other and blinking in the light. It was hard to leave them; to think I’d never seen them before and they were only a few miles from our house!

A couple of years ago I’d have been in pain after wandering on my feet all afternoon, but that condition is so much better these days as well. I got home with Angie tired but happy, and wishing we could keep a mongoose or a fennec fox as a pet! Maybe one day we’ll finally get a cat, but I’ve been promising that to myself for years…

1 comment:

  1. Lemurs are wonderfull aren't they? I was photographing them once at Howlets in Kent in an open air enclosure and as I was sitting on the low wooden balistrade one came up and before I could move sat on my lap! The keeper just nodded and said it was fine so I just sat there for about five minutes with lemur quite happily dozing against me! It was very hard to keep from stroking it! Meanwhile I went from taking photographs to being photographed as every visitor snapped away. Was a bizare but rather wonderfull experience. :)