11 Animal Interactions That Will Change Your Life

Published: March 17, 2014

The animal kingdom has given us food, clothing, guidance, help with work, help with stress, and incredible metaphors that inspire or caution. While I no longer see any reason to use animals for food, clothing, or entertainment, there were several interactions I had with animals as a child and adult that have shaped me spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and even physically. Animals have an amazing impact on each and every one of us, and here are the ones that might have a life-changing impact on you:

  1. Kangaroo

    One of the things I miss most about living in Australia was regularly interacting with kangaroos and wallabies. Imagine a deer and a rabbit combined. These creatures are amazingly curious and intelligent and often docile unless mating or protecting very young joeys. Most parks allow for feeding and they love a good scratch behind the ear just like a dog!

  2. Camel

    Despite their reputation of bad smell and odd noises, I prefer camels to horses! They are gentle and very calm when moving, so riding them was a real treat in the outback. And don't worry, they don't often spit at people; they actually love a good pat on the head or gazing into the tiny eyes of a human with their enormous peepers and long eyelashes!

  3. Elephant

    With sacred stories and legends behind these unbelievably intelligent and powerful creatures, one cannot help but feel humbled by how kind they seem (when treated properly). Elephants are natural comforters and will even take a human's hand by their trunk or scoop up a baby elephant in their trunk and rock them just like a human mother (they sway side to side to calm themselves just like humans). A metaphor about memory accompanies these larger than life beautiful beasts and it just so happens to be true!

  4. Cassowary/Emu

    Look at this amazing bird; isn't it beautiful? That might be why it's so protected as a species and having had the good fortune of feeding apple slices to one when I was 5 years old made me very aware of how small we are as humans, but that we can have such a huge impact on the animal world with our actions.

    Now take a look at this next bird; the emu is notoriously unintelligent in Australia and will actually be frightened by a tourist holding its hat over their head since the bird will think that the person just grew several inches in an instant! However, emu's are actually clever in their nesting and feeding habits. The only drawback to interacting with them is that they love shiny objects and will snatch jewelry, glasses, and other objects if they get the chance!

  5. Bat

    People in the west are terrified of these wonderful mosquito repellants while people in China see them as a sign of great luck. Despite being creatures of the night, interacting with bats is possible at sanctuaries and Nocturnal Habitats and I highly recommend it after looking into one's eyes and realizing that they aren't terrifying, they are terrific!

  6. Owl

    Whether horned or tyto, large or small, dark or light, we all see owls as wise creatures with a fierce nature leading to metaphors about wisdom. Having interacted with a few in Australia, it was incredible to see such enormous birds making so little sound and feeling so light when held on the arm; much like a large amount of knowlege makes life easier!

  7. Horse

    Horses have long been seen as symbols of nobility, magic, and spiritualism, but I have never ridden one. I have interacted with them, spoken with them, touched them, but never climbed on. These creatures are magnificently beautiful and very intuitive of human emotions. You might be surprised just how much you can actually see in the horse 'reading your body language' in its enormous eyes!

  8. Cow

    Sacred in India for the milk they provide, cows have a long history with the food industry in the west. However, in ancient times, these animals were more beasts of burden than a food source. Calm and curious with the people that get close to them, interacting with a cow is a great way to get the feeling of being close to world of agriculture in a more living way.

  9. Sheep

    Sheep have a reputation for being unintelligent followers, but when interacted with one can easily see that this is rarely the case. Sheep as individuals, like humans, are curious, playful, and soothing to touch (and like to be brushed as much as many humans love a good massage). Sheep are also symbols of purity and, when looking into their eyes and perfectly formed expressions, one can clearly see why.

  10. Deer

    Deer in captivity are much like cows or sheep because in the wild they have a natural and healthy fear of humans despite some curiosity about us. When ineracting with a deer in captivity, one is touching the more quiet and gentle parts of the forest which is also home to ferocious predators. In that sense, deer remind us that the forest is as much a place of peace and nurturing while surviving as it is fierce competition.

  11. Liger (Cub Less than 2 Years)

    Like all big cats, no one should have one as a companion and yet we see several people every year amazingly attacked by what they thought was their cuddly kitty, forgetting that they are meant to be ferocious, territorial predators. The Liger has a father that is a lion and a mother who is a tiger meaning it will have some stripes and usually a little bit of a mane. I had the good fortune of interacting with one at a sanctuary named 'Samson' in Germany who was a little over 9 months old. I recommend getting to interact with an animal like this at this age in a sanctuary if you're given the opportunity, but sanctuaries that claim to have full grown big cats to interact with are just a massacre waiting to happen. Being able to interact with, even from a distance, these large cats is being able to touch part of the wild, the fierce part of the wild that we fear. In that sense, these animals help us feel as though even our greatest and most basic fears can be conquered. 

Whether it's for a spiritual discover or simply part of an adventurous tour on vacation, an animal interaction gets the human part of you connecting with the wild or natural part of you and that feels amazing. It is also fascinating to see and touch these creatures that we've heard about in rhymes and stories and see for ourselves what they are really like! Be sure that the sanctuary or exhibit you visit is treating their animals well and that everyone abides by the rules for safety. If you suspect abuse of an animal in any zoo or sanctuary, notify someone immediately!