Too close


I am currently working on a few ideas for future posts. I have included some parts of each below and would love some feedback

Wild animal selfies

I personally think that we expect too much from animals.  It is almost as if an experience is not rewarding enough unless we get to touch an animal or get as close as possible, regardless of how dangerous the situation, we want to touch and take selfies. I find it a wee bit grimmer when it comes to selfies as these are often not for our own immediate benefit, but rather to feed our ego by gaining as many likes as we can. The even grimmer part of the wild animal selfie comes when we see how many animals are killed, injured and left terrified as a result see Do these people not care at all what happens to the animal afterwards?

The need to touch

I recently worked at a bird of prey centre and spent a great deal of time asking people not to touch the birds. I find it to be a huge shame that people come to these centres, where you feel as an employee, that a huge part of your job is to keep the animals healthy and displaying natural behaviours and you are constantly asking people not to touch them. I feel that this is the most unnatural act, however, some places practice it.

Just recently I saw pictures of a friends’ child stroking large owls at some outdoor event. With such pictures doing the rounds many now believe that their day at any animal centre is not complete if they didn’t touch anything. This is crazy when you think that it should be about seeing the animal, we are lucky to have that opportunity, and then we just want to reduce that fantastic animal to a cuddly toy. It’s terrible animal welfare for any place to allow this behaviour because it just feeds the need to touch. Quite often animal centres will make money from allowing people to touch animals and also get more repeat customers by using this as a selling point.

Many zoos and animal centres offer educational handling sessions/experiences which can be a fantastic way to get up close to some amazing creatures, and, at least in most cases, the animals being handled are far more suited to the experience and you get to learn something too.

I even had one guy at the centre stroke a barn owl that was on my glove about to be flown, he didn’t ask, he just did it. I told him off because in my opinion this is not what you do, he then informed me that at other centres he had been allowed to touch the birds and complained to my boss about me for telling him off. The entire experience was very uncomfortable and the guy was very lucky he wasn’t injured. He was clearly mortified about being told off and instead of apologising he felt the need to complain. Which brings me to my next question…?

Why do we feel so entitled?

I think we all understand the wanting to touch cute things, we grow up playing with soft toys resembling many species, especially cute ones and this fosters the need to touch. While I am certainly not saying we shouldn’t own soft toys, I think we need to be better educated when it comes to living animals both wild and captive.

It bothers me when you see people in the street approach a dog on a lead and pet the dog without asking first. This is not only rude, but extremely inconsiderate, how do we know that it’s OK to pet the dog? We don’t know that dog’s history, we are unlikely to know the owner, but we just think “I want to touch that dog” and we do. Don’t even get me started on feeding others animals as that is a whole post on its own.

Maybe, just maybe, we can consider ourselves fortunate to be able to see these animals, to want to touch, but to always have them slightly and safely out of reach.

What do you think?

45 thoughts on “Too close”

  1. I think you are absolutely right! I am one who loves cute and fluffy creature and would love to touch them but smart enough to know even in a zoo setting or fair or whatever, unless there is a special mind of meet and greet (even the current ones I’ve seen are just horrible) we shouldn’t feel entitled to touch animals.

    They are animals and they to be treated with the same respect like we treat others especially since I’m not animal expert, touching one might affect their health, behavior etc

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I agree with you on all counts. Every time I go to some sort of summer fete, the bird people are there trying to get people touching and paying for photos with the birds. I feel sad for the birds. Animal selfies – the killing is barbaric. I did get a photograph of me clapping a dolphin once in a sanctuary, but once I had more knowledge I regret doing this. Lastly, I work with children and ALWAYS tell them they must ask the owner if they can pet a dog. Good ideas 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I totally agree with this post! Maybe we do feel entitled, I am not sure. I do know that I can get in a, all I just want to do is touch the animal, it’s that cute aggression thing. lol. Seriously though I would never go out of my way to touch an animal without asking first, especially a more exotic animal. That’s how baby buffaloes die, humans touch- get involved when they shouldn’t.

    My zoo has a lorikeet area where you can go in and feed them, and honestly it’s my favorite thing to do there at the zoo, but I am also a little nervous every time too. I could never imagine trying to touch an owl, unless it was a baby owl, then there’s that whole cute aggression thing, but I would never touch a wild animal if I could help it, I would call someone if I thought that animal was hurt and needed help.

    We have a wildlife refuge bird center. They have owls and they perch them on their arms and talk about them. I have never seen anyone try to pet it. They could cripple your hand! I do think some people just feel entitled though, it’s sad. This is a great article. I wouldn’t mind reading more!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I absolutely appreciate this! I used to work as a caretaker for wolves in North Carolina in a rehabilitation center. We took in wolves or part wolves that were illegally bred or kept as pets. I hated when people expected them to act as domesticated dogs or thought they weren’t beautiful, majestic animals that deserved our respect and distance to be wild.

    When I tell people I used to work with wolves they will ask to see pictures and expect that I should have “selfies” with them. I don’t have a single one because I was there to care for them and create a new life for them. That said, I thinking taking pictures of a wild animal is perfectly acceptable and a great way to show appreciation. I just think distance and respect for their space and health is a priority. We don’t need to in the pictures with them to prove we were there. I often, in fact, think the pictures are much better and more interesting when the focus is on the animal in their natural element rather than with someone holding up a peace sign next to them. Just my two cents. 🙂 Thanks for bringing this up!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I love wildlife photography and frequently have people ask “How did you get that close?” It’s called a zoom lens. I believe we should leave wild animals alone. They really don’t want us helping them preen. One trend I find disturbing is letting hummingbirds land on you to eat. No. They won’t hurt you – but not everyone in this world is so nice to animals. Wild animals do not need to learn to trust humans. We aren’t a trustworthy species.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Totally agree with you points the need to touch. Especially about the dogs! Asking for permission from the owner is a must and approach the dog gently. Great article 😄 Ree love30

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Great post. Very informative. I haven’t been to many zoos to be honest. I think people are under the impression that if the animal is in a cage, it must be trained or domesticated in some way, like a dog is.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I think it’s great that you’re calling out on such topics. People usually want a cool photo / a cool story, and don’t even think about how they might affect the animals. I gotta admit I get very excited about seeing exotic animals too, but I try to always keep the rules, specially regarding no touching, no feeding, or anything else that directly affects the animals. Yet, I’ve seen how common they get disregarded!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I really agree to all your points here. I as well saw people who never think that they’re facing on animals, they always have this thought that when they touched an animal like birds, they feel happy which is right and okay. But they should also consider that animals like birds are from different environment, they need different approach.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I can see the attraction, its exciting and you wouldn’t normally get the chance. However after swimming dolphins ( a childhood dream) it really has changed my mind. I came out feeling utterly guilty, it is something I had always wanted to do but afterwards felt awful that the animals had no other choice but to be in with the public everyday.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I completely agree with you! I don’t get why people always want to touch the animals or get weirdly close. My dog doesn’t like being petted by strangers at all. But people can’t understand.. And you know what? If they notice she doesn’t want it, they think something is wrong with her. (Not with them just going in her personal space). (By the way, she doesn’t growl or anything. She just pulls a scared face and stands behind me).

    People should me more concerned with the welfare of animals. I just went on holiday and there were horse standing all day with a coach. Ofcourse it looked ‘cute’. But when I thought of the horse, not knowing how many hours a day they need to it. And I saw them getting a bag hung around their neck for eating.. not that cute. And so I didn’t invest money in this. I only will when I know for sure the animals are treated respectfully.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I love animals and I feel the will to touch all of them in a respectful way with the wish to have a bound with those. But I completely agree with you. I hate when people just stop and try to touch my dog out of nowhere without asking or saying anything. Specially that my dog is afraid of everything and everyone and when someone tries to touch her, she feels frightens and comes hide behind me. Then I have to explain her story. It should be the same with all animals. Birds are amazing and different because you actually can learn how to call them and hold them. When I visited places of birds, I was having them really close to me. Unfortunately I never experienced of calling them to hold them on my arm, as I’d be keen to learn this behavior. But I wouldn’t pet the animal, even though I’d like it, because I feel respect towards him but also I’d feel intimidated. I pet animals when they are willing to. Cats, dogs, and any others. If they come in a friendly way to be touched and get some kindness, I’ll do so. Other way I’ll stay respectful towards him and respect he’s discomfort. Animals are all majestic

    Liked by 2 people

  13. What an exciting job you have to work with wild animals. I also wanted to be a zoologist before but got diverted to work with humans instead. 🙂 So correct that not every animal wants to be touched just because it looks very cute. We should also respect its space.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. It is really so so too close. It is really good to seek permission before touching any animal. I really enjoy and agree with you on this post. Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Personally, I’m a “love the animal from afar” person anyways! Partly because I’m afraid of how they might react when I’m near them. Animals have instincts and you never know how the will react to our actions. I agree that they don’t need to be touched and frightened.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I agree with you people need to respect an animals space and not invade it just because they fancy it. It takes me back in time when i had rescued a kite with an injured wing which was on the way to its mend and i used to take him downstairs so he could fly around a bit. Remember so many people wanting to touch him i was lucky they reacted very politely to my “no” and let us be

    Liked by 2 people

  17. This is a post that triggered some thoughts. I’ve never thought about this question as I guess it’s our instinct to touch soemthing we like… Maybe something for us to look into!

    P.S. Thanks for following my site! xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow. Thank you. I started a new job a few weeks ago, so I have gotten really busy and had to take a wee break from blogging, was that the black cat blue sea blogger award? I would love to accept, I just need time to choose nominations. Thank you so much for nominating me 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It is actually the Versatile blogger award! I have seen the black cat blue sea award mentioned, but I haven’t read much about it! take your time on the nominations I totally understand about being busy!!! also congrats n your new job! I see your updates on Facebook and I always enjoy everything you post on there or on your blog! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  18. I think as humans we have an authority over the planet to take care of everyone as we are the most sensible creature on the planet. We should always have respect for the feelings of animals.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I cannot agree with you more. Respect the wild animals’ “personal space”. As much as I would like to touch them, they’re not used to us and sometimes, one touch can kill them. Like that man who mishandled flamingos at a zoo or something. That’s awful!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. It’s important the we understand that these animals have needs as well. I also do not get why people would think that the experience is never complete without being able to touch an animal. As parents, we should also be able to explain to our kids that these animals can also feel fear and stress and that touching them would trigger those and they may react negatively.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. I have never think of that. You completely changed my perception. I guess people are to lonely nowadays and they just want someone who won’t say back off, because they can’t. I often caught myself saying hello to the someone dog than to a person I know many years. So I strongly admire you, and keep up this work. People should be aware of their actions and be better educated.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Great points! I actually try to avoid zoo and similar places, not because of the animals, but because of the people. It’s crazy what people are willing to do for a picture. I was recently on Magnetic Island, Australia and one lady moved and broke the brunches of an eucalyptus because she wanted to take a better picture of a koala. Of course, the cute thing then woke up and climbed scared up the tree. There were 10 of us and we all told off the lady. It’s crazy!!!

    Liked by 2 people

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