The animals of my childhood

As far as I can remember, I’ve always been fascinated by the animal kingdom. Simply contemplating all these colorful and beautifully adapted creatures stunned me, and I nourished the hope of one day meeting them and understanding them.

Every time I said that I wanted to work with animals once I’d be a grown up, people talked to me about becoming a biologist, working in a zoo or being a veterinarian.

I wasn’t convinced.

[ME, curious]: “What’s a biologist?”
[MY MOM, always positive]: “A biologist studies an animal, looks where it lives, what it eats, everything it does… He tries to learn everything about it!”

“Only one?!” I thought. But I wanted to study them all! Understand them all! I wanted to be an animal expert, period.

With years passing by, the world’s complexity settled in and other passions blossomed. Yet, my interest for the fantastic never totally vanished. On TV, in my books or at the cinema, everything beautiful nature has created has always left me speechless.

And since I gave myself the means, the tide is turning. These creatures I only half believed in have become so real I can admire them, in their home, taking their bath or chatting with their friends.

And the 8 years old Alex couldn’t be happier…

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Apart from the pygmy elephants enjoying the rivers of Borneo, I also had the chance to see up close tons of insects all weirder than each other. Sometimes making me feel like in my childhood cartoons!

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Completely on the opposite side of these crawlies, both because of their size and the reactions they provoke, China’s pandas surprised me. Adorable, chubby, playful and lazy like no one else, they have this magical something that I did not expect.

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Do I have to even mention our cousins the orangutans and the appeasing mix of power and vulnerability they communicate with their incredibly expressive face, skillful hands and impressive size?

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There are also the proboscis monkeys, a less known primate that caught my attention long ago. With their enormous and funny nose and a big round belly, the child I was thought these living caricatures to be as real as Chewbacca and the dinosaurs.

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Below the trees, twenty thousand leagues under the sea, the manta rays amazed me. Biggest rays in the world (sometimes growing over five meters large), these silent guardians slowly and peacefully roam beneath the oceans.

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Finally, how could I leave behind the Komodo dragon? A lizard feeding on buffalos and deer and regularly growing to be three meters long, a legendary monster only found on a few Indonesian islands and named “dragon” has everything to stir a little boy’s imagination…

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A little boy I still am, obviously.

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Alexandre

 

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