Hey, folks! It’s Nick from Animal School. I’m the guy who typically brings our talking characters to life. I know I’ve said this before in earlier posts but I’m constantly amazed by things I learn or experience in this line of costume work. While my work as a sports mascot over the last fifteen years certainly has its amusing stories, I’m actually finding that being a talking educational animal ambassador is a lot more interesting.
I realized early on that if I am suited up as a certain species, I need to be well versed in all aspects of that animal’s life. I’m often approached by folks who have a variety in depth questions about current topics on that species, or questions about its behavior, diet and even how certain illness can affect it. Sometimes, someone comes up with a question and I find that I don’t have an answer. Experts get stumped more often than one would think! Thus, I head home after the event and I spend some time researching until I can deliver an accurate answer.
For example, I was performing as Swift the Fox at one of the farmers markets and a couple had a question on alternative treatments for foxes dealing with mange. At the time, I only knew of one type of medicine that could be administered but they had heard that at times, under certain circumstances, it may not be enough to help a sick fox and they were eager to know about new treatments,. I just had to look into this and I’m pleased to say that after some digging, I did find out there is in fact, a different treatment… and perhaps this will be on a future blog post.
Something else I discovered came to me while I was performing as Howler Wolf at a village fair event. I realized people will freely share their opinions about certain species with me. Specifically on that afternoon as Howler, I was giving howling demonstrations and I was approached by a local wildlife rehabilitator. I love the work rehabilitators do and I had spent a few years growing up working for some. Much to my surprise, he informed me that he hated wolves.
I was a bit surprised but I didn’t get offended and I didn’t bite his head off for how he felt. It did, however, make me think that the public’s perception of wolves wasn’t limited into two categories (i.e., those who like wolves and those who don’t). And, after doing some research, I found there were multiple view points and perceptions, like those who love wolves, those who know what life as a wolf is like, what living with wolves is like, those who see the wolf as a spiritual symbol, those who believe wolves are hurting game animal populations, those who see wolves as a threat to livestock, or in the extreme cases I’ve read about, those who see wolves as a symbol of government overreach… It was fascinating to learn all of this.
I’m sure as I continue to perform as these characters, I am certain I’ll never find a dull moment. I’ll continue to learn, discover and get some insight on how people think and feel about certain animals. This is the start of some sort of wild adventure, to say the least!
Stay wild, everyone!