Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Seeing animals

I have been watching tiger documentaries, specifically ones about Siberian Tigers. The first one I did not like. It was only pretending to be a Siberian Tiger documentary but was really a documentary about the scientists studying the Siberian Tiger. Watch them trap a tiger. Watch them almost kill a tiger with an overpowered drug dart. Watch them put a radio collar on the tiger. No thanks. Please do not solicit me anymore.

I like wildlife viewing and nature documentaries, but I have a lot of strict rules about them. One of them is that footage of animals tracked by radio collar doesn't count. Footage of animals being darted and radio collared is minus footage. You could have a Siberian Tiger documentary that technically shows less than zero tigers.

On the other hand, footage of Siberian Tigers filmed by a South Korean man who spent most of three years in tiny holes in the ground, not even leaving to pee because it is that hard to get footage of Siberian Tigers, very much counts. That was the second documentary I watched, though it was mostly about another guy who only had three weeks to try and see a tiger, but he was okay too. He took lessons from the South Korean guy and got very excited about tiger pee, and tiger footprints, and the South Korean guy in general, and the fact that within 700 square miles of him there was probably a tiger.

I would have felt the same way.

This leads to my hierarchy of seeing animals. It's sort of like a bizarre point system, only so far it doesn't have points. I am partly proud of myself for having not assigned a point system to this, and I am partly intrigued at the idea of creating a point system for it.

At the top of this hierarchy is the rarity of the animal and the purity of its setting. Seeing a Siberian Tiger in the sprawling wilderness of Siberia would be about at the top of this list. Seeing a squirrel at a zoo would be at the bottom. 

Actually, seeing any animal at a zoo doesn't count.

The one time I saw a moose was from a car, driving into the Bighorn Mountains. I hardly even know whether to describe that as seeing a moose. I guess so, whereas a zoo or circus wouldn't count. I once went sea kayaking for several days in a remote area of British Columbia where Orcas often visit. I did not see any Orcas, but it was a lot more like seeing an Orca than when I saw Shamu perform at Sea World as a child.

It still wasn't seeing an Orca though. My friend and I saw lots of scientists on that trip who said "Huh, we don't know why the Orcas aren't here. They usually are by now." It was a bit like a nature documentary, but not a very good one.

Why is this all on my mind? Well, somewhere vaguely about now, as you read this, I should be romping joyfully about Disney World. I expect to see animatronic animals. I expect to see sort of real animals while on fake safaris. I even expect to see cute, anthropomorphic stuffed type animals. I might see retired circus tigers lounging in fake Indian ruins. And I fully expect to see imitation dinosaurs, hopefully jutting steam from their nostrils and looking a little menacing, but not too menacing.

And I expect to enjoy most of it. But I accept that it's not really seeing animals. For that you really have to go to a hole in the ground and sit there for a long time and see almost nothing. Now that's really something.

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