Animal Diaries Archive
A popularity contest
1 August 2008Have you ever heard the saying ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’? This phrase came to mind recently in relation to how we view some animals, especially the seemingly ugly, or unpopular ones; in this case the example being the dromedary camel. Australia has a huge population of wild, free-ranging dromedary camel, they are classed as feral, or pests, and generally speaking are one of these ‘unpopular’ animals. The camels’ reputation seems to precede the animal, in that just about everyone has an opinion that focuses on the camel being smelly, or spitting, or just cranky, rather focusing on what makes them uniquely special.
A few months back I had a conversation with an international visitor to the Zoo, and our topic of conversation revolved around Australia Zoo’s beautiful Dromedary Camel, Teela. This man was from the Middle East, and camels had been a part of his, and his family’s lives for many generations. His respect and understanding of the animal surprised me, as he went on to tell me that his family currently owned over one hundred camels, for no reason other than that they were beautiful, highly revered animals. My surprise increased when he told me that his grandfather had recently paid a multi-million dollar sum for a camel simply because, in his words, “she is a beautiful camel, a lovely animal”.
This conversation reminded me of the phrase -one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Different cultures throughout the world hold some animals in higher esteem than others, as perfectly illustrated above. At the end of the day though, the animal doesn’t change – it is our perception that changes. It is important that we maintain high respect for all animals, even the ‘unpopular’ ones.