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Animals

  • When raising rabbits, it doesn't take long to get double your bunny back.

  • We lavish on animals the love we are afraid to show people. They might not return it; or worse, they might.

  • Children feel what their elders forget, our touching kinship with animals. To me a chipmunk was a far more real personality than Great-Uncle Aaron, and the mousehole gnawed in the lower left corner of the door to down cellar a more delightful habitation for the mind to contemplate than the parsonage.

  • ... the self-assured porcupine, endearingly grotesque, waddles up the road in broad daylight. He looks as if he had slept in his rumpled spiky clothes, and he probably has.

  • ... slugs are things from the edges of insanity ...

  • ... not all bears have their own television series. Some of them are unemployed wild animals.

  • In the South Pacific, because of their size, mosquitoes are required to file flight plans.

    • Erma Bombeck,
    • When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It's Time to Go Home
    • ()
  • Animals are such agreeable friends — they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.

    • George Eliot,
    • "Mr Gilfil's Love Story," Scenes of Clerical Life ()
  • Nature seems to exult in abounding radicality, extremism, anarchy. If we were to judge nature by its common sense or likelihood, we wouldn't believe the world existed. In nature, improbabilities are the one stock in trade. The whole creation is one lunatic fringe. ... No claims of any and all revelations could be so far-fetched as a single giraffe.

  • I startled a weasel who startled me, and we exchanged a long glance. ... Our eyes locked, and someone threw away the key.

  • Fingering insects was touching the rim of nightmare. But you have to study something. I never considered turning away from them just because I was afraid of them.

  • It costs me never a stab nor squirm / To tread by chance upon a worm. / 'Aha, my little dear,' I say, / 'Your clan will pay me back one day.'

  • Hickety, pickety, my red hen. / She lays eggs for gentlemen; / But you cannot persuade her with a gun or lariat; / To come across for the proletariat.

  • The fiddler crab fiddles, glides and dithers / dithers and glides, veers; the stilt-eyes / pop, the legs prance the body glides, stops, / the front legs paw the air like a stallion, / at a fast angle he veers fast, glides, stops, / dithers, paws.

  • While I was eating a tin of sardines the baboons came quite close and sat round scratching and making insulting gestures and abusive remarks ...

  • ... the most important — and surprising — thing is his endearing expression. It had never occurred to me that one could be on more than civil terms with a mule ...

  • Birds and beasts have in fact our own nature, flattened a semi-tone.

  • Naked ourselves, we long for fur. Fur is superior to human skin in every cosmetic and practical respect; it insulates the flesh, resists sunburn, and doesn't show wrinkles, bruises, acne, sweat, or cellulite. It looks much the same in old age as in youth. It feels good, too. We like to touch it, but in recent years a cloud has fallen over the ancient custom of appropriating animal furs and swaggering around pretending they're ours. If we're going to run our hands over fur, it's now correct only if the creature's still in it. (Actually, it feels better that way, the creature adding a warmth and solidity under the softness.)

  • ... signs of mice were in the kitchen. Sometimes they dropped in for warmth and charity.

  • I went through the fields, and sat for an hour afraid to pass a cow. The cow looked at me, and I looked at the cow, and whenever I stirred the cow gave over eating.

    • Dorothy Wordsworth,
    • 1802, in William Knight, ed., Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth, vol. 1 ()
  • Progress? It ought to be stopped, that's what I say. If the Lord meant chickens to come out of incubators he'd never have made hens, it stands to reason.

    • Winifred Holtby,
    • "The Ruin of Mr. Hilary" (1929), Pavements at Anderby ()
  • Nature is not silent, and never was a name more derisively inappropriate than when we speak of these non-human creatures who hoot and crow and bray as the dumb animals.

  • How agreeable to watch, from the other side of the high stile, this mighty creature, this fat bull of Bashan, snorting, champing, pawing the earth, lashing the tail, breathing defiance at heaven and at me ... his heart hot with hate, unable to climb a stile.

  • ... the real reason I had wanted to grow up, the main reason I had been willing to even consider becoming an adult, was so I could have as many pets as I wanted.

  • When strolling forth, a beast you view / Whose hide with spots is peppered; / As soon as it has leapt on you, / You'll know it is the Leopard.

    • Carolyn Wells,
    • "How to Know the Wild Animals," Folly for the Wise ()
  • The blossom rifled, / With laden thighs / Further each willing / Eunuch plies: / A dull way to fertilize.

  • It [the bat] allowed me to pick it up and admire its fine mackintosh wings and furious fairy face. And since it was a day of ruthless sunlight I put it into a cupboard to meditate in dusk till sundown.

  • We are also rather concerned about our moorhen who went mad while we were in Italy and began to build a nest in a tree. ... she walks about in the tree, looking as uneasy yet persevering as a district visitor in a brothel.

  • Most of us are animal lovers. We insist that we love all animals equally — the hamster, the weasel, and the zebra — but if pressed, we will admit to being either a cat person or a dog person.

  • Making animals perform for the amusement of human beings is / Utterly disgraceful and abominable. / Animals are animals and have their nature / And that's enough, it is enough, leave it alone.

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "This Is Disgraceful and Abominable," Not Waving But Drowning ()
  • ... all tamed animals are nervous, we have given them reason to be, not only by cruelty but by our love too, that presses upon them. They have not been able to be entirely indifferent to this and untouched by it.

  • It is an amiable part of human nature, that we should love our animals; it is even better to love them to the point of folly, than not to love them at all.

  • In his fur the animal rode, and in his fur he strove, / And oh it filled my heart my heart, it filled my heart with love.

  • It is impossible to be among the woods animals on their own ground without a feeling of expanding one's own world, as when any foreign country is visited.

  • Ants in the house seem to be, not intruders, but the owners.

  • Everywhere bees go racing with the hours, / For every bee becomes a drunken lover, / Standing upon his head to sup the flowers.

  • For bees are captious folk / And quick to turn against the lubber's touch ...

  • I like owls. I admire their intransigent spirit. I have respected them deeply ever since I met a baby owl in a wood, when it fell over dead, apparently from sheer temper, because I dared to approach it. It defied me first, and then died. I have never forgotten the horror and shame I experienced when that soft fluffy thing (towards which I had nothing but the most humanitarian motives) fell dead from rage at my feet.

  • What, did St. Francis preach to the birds? Whatever for? If he really liked birds he would have done better to preach to cats.

  • Which of us has not been stunned by the beauty of an animal's skin or its flexibility in motion?

    • Marianne Moore,
    • "Of Beasts and Jewels," in Patricia C. Willis, ed., The Complete Prose of Marianne Moore ()
  • It is very funny about money. The thing that differentiates man from animals is money. All animals have the same emotions and the same ways as men. Anybody who has lots of animals around knows that. But the thing no animal can do is count, and the thing no animal can know is money.

  • Animals in different countries have different expressions just as the people in different countries differ in expression.

  • ... human animals and nonhuman animals can communicate quite well; if we are brought up around animals as children we take this for granted. By the time we are adults we no longer remember.

  • ... the animals of the planet are in desperate peril ... Without free animal life I believe we will lose the spiritual equivalent of oxygen.

    • Alice Walker,
    • "The Universe Responds," Living by the Word ()
  • If only I could so live and so serve the world that after me there should never again be birds in cages ...

    • Isak Dinesen,
    • "The Deluge at Norderney," Seven Gothic Tales ()
  • ... I had seen a herd of Buffalo, one hundred and twenty-nine of them, come out of the morning mist under a copper sky, one by one, as if the dark and massive, iron-like animals with the mighty horizontally swung horns were not approaching, but were being created before my eyes and sent out as they were finished.

  • I had seen a herd of Elephant travelling through dense native forest ... pacing along as if they had an appointment at the end of the world.

  • I had time after time watched the progression across the plain of the giraffe, in their queer, inimitable, vegetative gracefulness, as if it were not a herd of animals but a family of rare, long-stemmed, speckled gigantic flowers slowly advancing.

  • Where a pack of monkeys had traveled over the road, the smell of them lingered for a long time in the air, a dry and stale, mousy smell.

  • Animals give us their constant, unjaded faces and we burden them with our bodies and civilized ordeals.

  • The relation of man to the animals he has lived with — from the cave age to the machine age — has been a vital one, to which many scratched-on-rock pictures bear witness. ... Our relations with kept animals has nothing in common with the older, organically sound relation, when animals had their allotted place in the great struggle for survival. Perhaps the slow, almost unobserved, disappearance of animals as our fellow-workers is a sign of our turn away from the past, towards a new future. The desperate clutch at them as pets, as useless ornaments living in a psychological vacuum, may be due to our unconscious consternation at the departure of so visible a part of our past. Our hearts, if not our minds, are dismayed to see them silently moving towards the exit sign, leaving us alone with the machine — and with each other.

  • ... I never heard of anybody who admired the character of sheep. Even the gentlest human personalities in contact with them are annoyed by their lack of brains, courage and initiative, by their extraordinary ability to get themselves into uncomfortable or dangerous situations and then wait in inert helplessness for someone to rescue them.

  • A shoe with legs, / a stone dropped from heaven ...

  • You have only to wait, they will find you. / The geese flying low over the marsh, / glittering in black water. / They find you.

  • We have for too long accepted a traditional way of looking at nature, at nature's creatures, which has blinded us to their incredible essence, and which has made us incomparably lonely. It is our loneliness as much as our greed which can destroy us.

  • Animals were once, for all of us, teachers. They instructed us in ways of being and perceiving that extended our imaginations, that were models for additional possibilities.

  • ... we would see a long line of cattle like black lace against the sunset sky.

  • Over the years, this family has had enough pets to make us feel as all-American as the next family. This is not to say that any of the pets have been successful. I have a theory about this. Animals, particularly dogs, pick up whatever human instability is in the air and become its primary 'host carrier.' And since I have always acquired a new pet to calm things down, the various rabbits, gerbils, mice, singing canaries and dogs have absorbed the tension and gone crazy — if they weren't already crazy when they arrived.

  • Since we humans have the better brain, isn't it our responsibility to protect our fellow creatures from, oddly enough, ourselves?

    • Joy Adamson,
    • in Barbara McDowell and Hana Umlauf, Woman's Almanac ()
  • [On lions:] It has always seemed miraculous to me that these colossal animals can move noiselessly through the bush, and are thus able to surround one without warning.

  • All those golden autumn days the sky was full of wings. Wings beating low over the blue water of Silver Lake, wings beating high in the blue air far above it. Wings of geese, of brant, of ducks and pelicans and cranes and heron and swans and gulls, bearing them all away to green fields in the South.

  • Animals are as smart as people — some people, anyway.

  • I didn't feed the peacocks this morning. ... So what happens as I am peacefully reading The Smithsonian and sopping up maple syrup from snowy New Hampshire? Outside each window, on the stovepipe here, grouped on top of the abandoned refrigerator by the shower there, on the trash can of grain, on the chair of the porch, clamber these idiot birds, peering in every window at me; whining, demanding to know What Am I Doing, Why Haven't I Fed Them, When Am I Coming Out?

  • The matter of making christening robes for caterpillars, it is not a difficult one; the difficulty is to get a frisky caterpillar to keep still while one is putting on his christening robe. And then it is a problem to keep it on, after one does get it on. I do have much troubles with caterpillars crawling out of their christening robes after I do get them on.

    • Opal Whiteley,
    • 1920, in Benjamin Hoff, ed., The Singing Creek Where the Willows Grow ()
  • I must say I derive / some satisfaction / from my good looks. / My feathers / are sown with eyes / admiring themselves.

  • Hurt no living thing: / Ladybird, nor butterfly, / Nor moth with dusty wing, / Nor cricket chirping cheerily ...

  • ... in all cultures, human beings — in order to be human — must understand the nonhuman.

  • How it is that animals understand things I do not know, but it is certain that they do understand. Perhaps there is a language which is not made up of words and everything in the world understands it. Perhaps there is a soul hidden in everything and it can always speak, without even making a sound, to another soul.

  • Amongst animals the only social poise, the only true self-possession and absence of shyness is shown by the cud-chewing cow. She is diverted from fear and soothed from self-consciousness by having her nervous attention distracted.

  • When you got a hoss, you got a hoss. You know what you got. He's goin' to act like a hoss. But when you got a mule, why, you can't never tell. All of a sudden one of these days, he's like as not to turn into a Congressman.

  • They have sent me some chicken, but, alas! can one eat one's acquaintance! these inoffensive companions of my retirement, can I devour them! How often have I lately admired the provident care and the maternal affection of a hen, and shall I eat her hopeful son or fair daughter! Sure I should then be an unworthy member of the chicken society. I find myself reduced to a vegetable diet, not as a Pythagorean, for fear of removing the soul of a friend, but to avoid destroying the body of an acquaintance. There is not a sheep, a calf, a lamb, a goose, a hen, or a turkey in the neighourhood, with which I am not intimately acquainted.

  • Of the white bears, all in a dim blue world / Mumbling their meals by twilight ...

    • Jean Ingelow,
    • "Gladys and Her Island," A Story of Doom ()
  • I like handling newborn animals. Fallen into life from an unmappable world, they are the ultimate immigrants, full of wonder and confusion.

  • ... short, potbellied penguins, whose necks wobbled with baby fat, huddled together like Russian businessmen in fur coats.

  • Not much is known about alligators. They don't train well. And they're unwieldy and rowdy to work with in laboratories.

  • One of the things I like best about animals in the wild is that they're always off on some errand. They have appointments to keep. It's only we humans who wonder what we're here for.

  • Adult bats don't weigh much. They're mainly fur and appetite.

  • It's animal by animal that you save a species.

  • Insects have had a poor press which has emphasized their role as ravagers, disease carriers or as nuisances. There is always an uncomfortable undercurrent of opinion that insects, in some fiendish manner, are trying to inherit our planet. Insects need an articulate public relations man.

  • You enter into a certain amount of madness when you marry a person with pets, but I didn't care.

  • I heard my little brothers who move by night rustling in grass and tree. A hedgehog crossed my path with a dull squeak, the bats shrilled high to the stars, a white owl swept past me crying his hunting note, a beetle boomed suddenly in my face; and above and through it all the nightingales sang — and sang!

  • There were too many lemmings — that was the core of their difficulty. None wanted solitude, but a crowd of this size was a torment. Being sensitive little beasts, they became overstimulated by superfluous numbers of their own kind. They had tried to escape, but with pitiable irony, all tried to escape together.

  • ... the loons ... were high-strung birds, and one could believe that love was, for them, a very disturbing experience. During the night, in the lucent twilight, their cries spread without pause over the ice and the tundra. They were cries close to human tones, and sounding as if they expressed wild dismay. ... The night seemed to pulse with grief, hopeless and inconsolable.

  • The foolish square calves pretend to be frightened of our train. Bluffers! Haven't they seen it every day since they were born? It's just an excuse to shake the joy out of their heels.

  • That creature on whose back abound / Black spots upon a yellow ground / A panther is — the fairest beast / That haunteth in the spacious East: / He underneath a fair outside / Does cruelty and treachery hide.

    • Mary Ann Lamb,
    • "The Beasts in the Tower," Poetry for Children ()
  • The coyote must be my totem animal. ... Strange, devil-like beings — the sneak thieves of the animal world — they were clever; they were beyond anything we could imagine. They could walk thin as a stick, or loom up big and substantial; but they were never out of control of a situation.

  • ... my own relationships with the animals in my life are absurdly complex: Some I love, some I eat, and the scraps left over from the ones I eat, I feed to the ones I love.

  • All the giant silkworm family, the Ios and lunas she admired, did their eating as caterpillars and as adult moths had no mouths. What mute, romantic extravagance, Lusa thought: a starving creature racing with death to scour the night for his mate.

  • A red-tailed hawk rose high on an air current, calling out shrill, sequential rasps of raptor joy. ... Once she'd seen a pair of them coupling on the wing, grappling and clutching each other and tumbling curve-winged through the air in hundred-foot death dives that made her gasp, though always they uncoupled and sailed outward and up again just before they were bashed to death in senseless passion.

  • Have you ever heard, Hem, why a peacock gives those terrible screams? He has looked down and suddenly seen his feet. He had forgotten he had them because he was so busy admiring his train.

  • Louis [Leakey] was anxious to initiate a scientific study of these chimpanzees. It would be difficult, he emphasized, for nothing was known; there were no guidelines for such a field study; and the habitat was remote and rugged. Dangerous wild animals would be living there, and chimpanzees themselves were considered at least four times stronger than humans. I remember wondering what kind of scientist he would find for such a herculean task.

    • Jane Goodall,
    • in Jane Goodall with Phillip Berman, Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey ()
  • Whatever sales people or sentimental books may state, wild animals do not make good pets. Captivity, no matter how 'kind,' is always cruel.

  • Wanton killing for sport, or euphemistically, for 'management' seems to me a poor way of demonstrating our higher intelligence. Predators hunt to live. Only man hunts for the sheer triumph of killing. It is a fact that only man is uplifted by the spectacle of an animal's death.

  • To me, squirrels are almost fairy people. They are marvelously round: roundly curved body, curved shell-like ears, curved haunches, tail either S-curved over the back like a mantle, or flying straight out behind the long slender body ...

  • ... invest everything in chickens and pretty soon you're thinking like a chicken. You know how chickens think? I do, because I raised chickens as a boy. Chickens are always looking for little bits of things in the dirt. They don't conceptualize on a higher plane. You step back from chickens and you start conceptualizing on a higher plane. That's my philosophy.

  • We now have ten cats, a big stupid dog, two tadpoles, a bearded dragon lizard, and a bunny. I'm going to be honest with you. I'd been drunk in that pet store before, and I don't want to play the victim here, but I believe they knew and I believe they took advantage. Does anybody else's pet store have a wine section? It seems unusual to me.

  • For behind the wooden wainscots of all the old houses in Gloucester, there are little mouse staircases and secret trap-doors; and the mice run from house to house through those long narrow passages; they can run all over the town without going into the streets.

  • ... don't go into Mr. McGregor's garden: your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor.

  • Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were — Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter.

  • Animals are a compromise between being alone and being with people.

  • There was some sort of maze-learning experiment involved in my final grade and since I remember the rat who was my colleague as uncooperative, or perhaps merely incompetent at being a rat, or tired of the whole thing, I don't remember how I passed.

  • On the way down we met a few yaks puffing and steaming in their progress uphill. ... They reminded me of overstuffed ottomans, with fringes of long black hair rather in the shape of loose covers.

  • I would like to leave a great reputation among those creatures who having kept, on their fur and in their souls, the trace of my passage, madly hoped for a single moment that I belonged to them.

    • Colette,
    • 1928, in Enid McLeod, trans., Break of Day ()
  • Shall I ever marvel enough at animals? This one is exceptional, like a friend one will never replace, or a perfect lover.

    • Colette,
    • 1928, in Enid McLeod, trans., Break of Day ()
  • It is man who has affixed the word 'wild' to the name animal.

    • Colette,
    • "Animals" (1928), Journey for Myself ()
  • A kindly gesture bestowed by us on an animal arouses prodigies of understanding and gratitude.

    • Colette,
    • "Tits" (1928), Journey for Myself ()
  • Every person who builds a second home on a pristine lake or in a secluded area of woods, or who invests in urban-sprawl development, is part of the same global pattern of encroachment that displaces wildlife and decreases the wild space our own species needs for its survival.

  • ... we know by the odour that occasionally we are visited by skunks, which are not poetic but very beautiful.

    • Gene Stratton-Porter,
    • in Jeannette Porter Meehan, The Lady of the Limberlost: Life and Letters of Gene Stratton-Porter ()
  • ... swans ... always look as though they'd just been reading their own fan-mail.

  • Few things are more stimulating than the sight of the forceful wings of large birds cleaving the vagueness of air and making the piled clouds a mere background for their concentrated life.

  • ... still and silent and inimitably grave, were two baby owls taking an airing. ... The four eyes were focused like cameras in a certain direction, and anything that came within the line of vision was necessarily taken in by them. One waited with the concentrated longing of the photographed for the little click of release. It never came, and I realized that this was to be an endless exposure. Their double stare awed me like the gaze of a thought-reader. It was perfectly useless to stare back, because it was obvious that they could go on like that interminably.

  • Python carries his loneliness in him as if he had eaten clay.

  • Probably we never fully credit the interdependence of wild creatures, and their cognizance of the affairs of their own kind.

  • Rabbits are a foolish people. They do not fight except with their own kind, nor use their paws except for feet, and appear to have no reason for existence but to furnish meals for meat-eaters. In flight they seem to rebound from the earth of their own elasticity, but keep a sober pace going to the spring. It is the young watercress that tempts them and the pleasures of society, for they seldom drink.

  • If you ever, ever, ever meet a grizzly bear, / You must never, never, never ask him where / He is going, / Or what he is doing; / For if you ever, ever dare / To stop a grizzly bear, / You will never meet another grizzly bear.

    • Mary Austin,
    • "Grizzly Bear," The Children Sing in the Far West ()
  • In the false country of the zoo / Grief is well represented there / From those continents of the odd / And outmoded, Africa and Australia.

    • Jean Garrigue,
    • "False Country of the Zoo," The Ego and the Centaur ()
  • What is it about humans that makes some wish they were part horse? ... Perhaps the answer lies in the nature of the horse, so extraordinarily other than our own. We can say that about all our companion animals, but only the horse, among our companions, is not a predator. Horses are the eaten, not the eaters.

    • Susan F. Boucher,
    • "Partnering Pegasus," in Linda Hogan, Deena Metzger, and Brenda Peterson, eds., Intimate Nature: The Bond Between Women and Animals ()
  • Certainly it had never occurred to him that an animal could be stripped of everything that went with it, of which its instincts were an inseparable part, and that you could have just its little body in a space of nothingness. As if looking at that told you anything but the nature of sorrow, which you knew anyway.

  • Then perhaps in the end, if we don't exterminate the gorillas before we exterminate ourselves, the gorilla will have his chance. He's one of the really great ones of the earth, and he's not specialized, he's versatile. It's the versatile who survive.

  • A gorilla is a stupendous creature, very up and coming. He seems to belong to the dawn of his time, the origin, not the end, the elemental stuff packed with compressed vitality from whom everything is still to come.

  • Goldfish are flowers ... flowers that move.

  • Like your most nightmarish ex, a jellyfish is brainless, heartless, and spineless ...

  • ... if we don't always understand animals, they always understand us.

    • Rosa Bonheur,
    • in Dore Ashton, Rosa Bonheur: A Life and a Legend ()
  • Domestic rabbits don't have the sense that God promised animal crackers.

  • 'He is well behaved, señora,' the old man said when he sold it to me. 'He is not vulgar. He will never embarrass you.' The parrot eyed me slyly and malevolently, like a wrongdoer who hears his lawyer praising him in court.

  • Sheep are not the docile, pleasant creatures of the pastoral idyll. Any countryman will tell you that. They are sly, occasionally vicious, pathologically stupid.

  • I am convinced that biology should be taught as a course in human-animal relationships — not as a study of dead bodies or caged victims.

    • Dorothy Richards,
    • in Dorothy Richards with Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, Beaversprite ()
  • This little panther wears a coat of soot, / Well-suited so. Stretched out along his shelf, / Still as one brooding storm, the sultry brute / Looks soft as darkness folded on itself.

    • Babette Deutsch,
    • "Creatures in the Zoo," The Collected Poems of Babette Deutsch ()
  • Few know the ways of this rapt eremite / By civilization he is not impressed; / Lost in the spiral of his conscience, he / Detachedly takes rest.

  • ... keeping chickens seems to me like pouring water into a bottomless well. The brutes are insatiable; and it is always 'Time to feed the chickens.'

  • I think mice / Are rather nice.

  • We humans should never forget our capacity to connect with the collective spirit of animals. Their energy is essential to our future growth.

  • No civilization is complete which does not include the dumb and defenseless of God's creatures within the sphere of charity and mercy.

  • Animals are capable of great kindness and compassion; they rescue, comfort, and care for us. They are one of life's great blessings.

  • [The lion] began to contemplate me with a kind of quiet premeditation, like that of a slow-witted man fondling an unaccustomed thought.

  • [Elephants] are less agile and physically less adaptable than ourselves — Nature having developed their bodies in one direction and their brains in another, while human beings, on the other hand, drew from Mr. Darwin's lottery of evolution both the winning ticket and the stub to match it. This, I suppose, is why we are so wonderful and can make movies and electric razors and wireless sets — and guns with which to shoot the elephant, the hare, clay pigeons, and each other.

  • I know animals more gallant than the African warthog, but none more courageous. He is the peasant of the plains — the drab and dowdy digger in the earth. He is the uncomely but intrepid defender of family, home, and bourgeois convention, and he will fight anything of any size that intrudes upon his smug existence. ... His eyes are small and lightless and capable of but one expression — suspicion. What he does not understand, he suspects, and what he suspects, he fights.

  • ... I heard the owl call my name.

  • Did you ever see a giraffe? ... It is like seeing something from between the regions of truth and fiction ...

    • Geraldine Jewsbury,
    • 1844, in Mrs. Alexander Ireland, ed., Selections From the Letters of Geraldine Endsor Jewsbury to Jane Welsh Carlyle ()
  • It is, perhaps, the darkest pain of the contemporary human that we are losing everything of true worth from this world. In all the four directions, the animals are leaving. Through our failed humanity they are vanishing, and along with them we are losing something of utmost importance: the human traits of love, empathy, and compassion. As we lose the animals, it is not only clear that our own health will soon follow, but some part of our inner selves knows that we are losing what brings us to love and human fullness. Our connection with them has been perhaps the closest thing we have had to a sort of grace.

    • Linda Hogan,
    • "First People," in Linda Hogan, Deena Metzger, and Brenda Peterson, eds., Intimate Nature: The Bond Between Women and Animals ()
  • I found some of the most minute mouse tracks this morning, like little necklaces in the snow ...

    • Tasha Tudor,
    • in Tasha Tudor and Richard Brown, The Private World of Tasha Tudor ()
  • Have you ever studied a snake's face? — how optimistic they look. They have an eternal smile.

    • Tasha Tudor,
    • in Tasha Tudor and Richard Brown, The Private World of Tasha Tudor ()
  • A beaver does not, as legend would have it, know which direction the tree will fall when he cuts it, but counts on alacrity to make up for lack of engineering expertise.

  • Animal is simplicity of being. The animal obeys Nature, and Nature is always right.

  • [On cloning sheep:] Oh great, just what we need — more sheep.

  • ... the worth of any animal is determined by its owner. This is probably the single hardest thing about being a doctor of animals — when the treatment isn't limited by my skill, education, or experience, or even by the state of veterinary medicine itself, but by the depth of the client's wallet. ... It's a heartbreaker when the question is medical and the answer is economic.

  • ... we veterinarians — though trained as physicians — are, in fact, more like mechanics in many ways. Our patients are repaired only as long as their value exeeds the cost of upkeep, though often, it is is true, that value is defined by emotion and love.

  • I am going to tell you of a malancholy story A young Turkie of 2 or 3 month Old would you believe it the father broak its leg & he kiled another I think he should be transported or hanged ...

    • Marjorie Fleming,
    • age 7 (1810), in Frank Sidgwick, The Complete Marjory Fleming ()
  • The extraordinary gentleness of the adult male with his young dispels all the King Kong mythology.

  • Peanuts ... suddenly stopped and turned to stare directly at me. The expression in his eyes was unfathomable. Spellbound, I returned his gaze — a gaze that seemed to combine elements of inquiry and acceptance. ... I returned to camp and cabled Dr. Leaky I've finally been accepted by a gorilla.

  • Peanuts became the first gorilla ever to touch me. ... After looking intently at my hand, Peanuts stood up and extended his hand to touch his fingers against my own for a brief instant. Thrilled at his own daring, he gave vent to his excitement by a quick chestbeat before going off to rejoin his group. ... The contact was among the most memorable of my life among the gorillas.

  • My field-mouse had made a set of brand-new tracks; here and there they etched themselves, following the brown flowers. It seemed as if uncommon spirits had seized their little maker, for sometimes he had leaped a yard, the festive mite! There was no other track pursuing; the leaps must have been mere joy.

  • ... a sarcastic expression, on a beast, is far more sinister than rage.

  • There is not one world for man and one for animals, they are part of the same one and lead parallel lives.

  • There is nothing in nature quite so joyful as the very young and silly lamb — odd that it should develop into that dull and sober animal the sheep.

  • Goats are quite intelligent; in this they are unlike sheep, who are modest with cause and skittish without it; and very unlike cattle, whose brains, secreted behind those glazed brown eyes moist with sincerity, seem never to have been contaminated by a single thought. Goats, like cats, find ways of going precisely where they shouldn't and of not being where anyone dares tell them to be. Fences are studied as provocations, gates as tests of tactical game theory. Pecking orders are won by virtue of intellect and seniority, not size or brawn, and cooperation in problem solving is not uncommon. Furthermore, a sense of humor is truly evident, especially in getting their own back at the taller two-legged goats who can open and close gates and think they own the place, but who at least dutifully deliver hay bales to the paddock in winter or in times of drought, and helpfully turn spigots to fill the water troughs.

  • [Deer:] Beautiful, brown, and unafraid / Those eyes returned my stare, / And something with neither sound nor name / Passed between us there.

  • They [zebras] looked like highly varnished animated toys.

  • If you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to ask for a glass of milk.

  • Chickens are cheerless birds, I advise you to keep geese which can be taught to follow like dogs, one needs all the companionship one can get in these days.

    • Nancy Mitford,
    • 1931, in Charlotte Mosley, ed., The Letters of Nancy Mitford ()
  • ... the African leopard is an audacious animal, although it is ungrateful of me to say a word against him, after the way he has let me off personally ... taken as a whole, he is the most lovely animal I have ever seen; only seeing him, in the one way you can gain a full idea of his beauty, namely in his native forest, is not an unmixed joy to a person, like myself, of a nervous disposition.

  • ... a big leopard ... was crouching on the ground, with his magnificent head thrown back and his eyes shut. His fore-paws were spread out in front of him and he lashed the ground with his tail, and I grieve to say, in face of that awful danger — I don't mean me, but the tornado — that depraved creature swore, softly, but repeatedly and profoundly.

  • Animals were both the lives I took care of and the lives who took care of me.

  • Animals do not betray; they do not exploit; they do not oppress; they do not enslave; they do not sin. They have their being, and their being is honest, and who can say this of man?

  • My mother thought it would make us feel better to know animals had no souls and thus their deaths were not to be taken seriously. But it didn't help and when I think of some of the animals I have known, I wonder. The only really 'soulful' eyes in the world belong to the dog or cat who sits on your lap or at your feet commiserating when you cry.

  • A bunny's a delightful habit / No home's complete without a rabbit.

  • The squirrel came and sat on his haunches before them. When they paid no attention to him he went away, disgusted. Park squirrels are usually exhibitionists.

  • The only thing dumber than a turkey is a person who thinks it would be fun to raise turkeys. ... Turkeys seem to have only one built-in response to any stimulus, panic.

  • 'Talking to animals' isn't a matter of words used, it is a matter of your thoughts, your expression, and above all the tone of your voice. A harsh voice from me can make my cows jump in terror. I shouted at old Queenie once and she got such a shock that she fell down just as if she'd been shot ...

  • I believe that animals have been talking to human beings ever since we were all made and put into this world ...

  • ... one has to give a great deal of oneself to animals if one is to get the best out of them.

  • There is nothing a pig loves more than a good bath, with a loofah and plenty of soap flakes ... There is something delightfully lovable about a really clean pig, in clean yellow straw.

  • Animals are so much quicker in picking up our thoughts than we are in picking up theirs. I believe they must have a very poor opinion of the human race.

  • The mole goes down the slow dark personal passage — / a haberdasher's sample of wet velvet moving / on fine feet through an earth that only / the gardener and the excavator know.

    • P.K. Page,
    • "The Mole," As Ten As Twenty ()
  • Well, if you are in the market for some August humidity and some dead polecats and armadillos, I cannot recommend this stretch of road enough ... I was constantly stepping around a great collection of unfortunate armadillos, presenting themselves nearly every tenth mile. It was as if some armadillo Spartacus, fleeing Arkansas, had been captured and executed with all his followers along this road.

    • Doris Haddock,
    • with Dennis Burke, Granny D: Walking Across America in My 90th Year ()
  • Mary had a little lamb, / Its fleece was white as snow; / And everywhere that Mary went / The lamb was sure to go.

  • But some animals, like some men, leave a trail of glory behind them. They give their spirit to the place where they have lived, and remain forever a part of the rocks and streams and the wind and sky.

  • The camel's a mammal / who grouches and grumps. / I think that he wishes / he didn't have humps.

    • Maxine Kumin,
    • in L.B. Hopkins, ed., To the Zoo: Animal Poems ()
  • ... you could hear the heavy soft sounds of hippo coming out of the river to forage at night, like someone in the next bed rolling over, like a rustle of sheets.

    • Maria Thomas,
    • "Jim Chance," Come to Africa and Save Your Marriage ()
  • ... we call them dumb animals, and so they are, for they cannot tell us how they feel, but they do not suffer less because they have no words.

  • Teach your elephant to water-ski. ... To teach your elephant this useful skill, follow these simple steps: Get an elephant. ... Get elephant-size water skis. ... Start the elephant on dry land. ... Go out on the water.

  • A bear can smell a single French fry dropped in the car a week ago and will remove the car door to get to it.

  • Stuffed deer heads on walls are bad enough, but it's worse when they are wearing dark glasses and have streamers and ornaments in their antlers because then you know they were enjoying themselves at a party when they were shot.

  • I ask people why they have deer heads on their walls, and they say, 'Because it's such a beautiful animal.' There you go. Well, I think my mother's attractive, but I have photographs of her.

  • Penguins are monogamous for life. Penguins mate for life. Which doesn't exactly surprise me that much 'cause they all look alike — it's not like they're gonna meet a better-looking penguin someday.

  • Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet.

    • Colette,
    • in Allan Massie, Colette ()
  • [Officials responsible for the poorly run badger control program in England explained to critics that 'the badgers were moving the goalposts':] Because the Badgers are moving the goalposts. / The Ferrets are bending the rules. / The Weasels are taking the hindmost. / The Otters are downing tools. / The Hedgehogs are changing the game-plan. / The Grass-snakes are spitting tacks. / The Squirrels are playing the blame-game / The Skunks are twisting the facts.

  • Of the many species that have existed on earth — estimates run as high as fifty billion — more than ninety-nine per cent have disappeared. In the light of this, it is sometimes joked that all of life today amounts to little more than a rounding error.

  • Groups of sixty or more blinking beluga whales swam gently between our boats, and bearded seals tailed us like private detectives. Orange-beaked puffins made us laugh aloud as they flashed by with their feet held stiffly behind them, like flying nuns on vital church business.

  • The world is full of camels. ... They drift across our path in thousands, grazing. It is like some immense slow river, hours wide.

    • Gertrude Bell,
    • 1911, in Georgina Howell, Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations ()
  • Click, click, go the lobsters, / With their china mitts and / articulated tails.

    • Kay Ryan,
    • "Crustacean Island," The Best of It ()
  • Each evening the snail awoke and, with an astonishing amount of poise, moved gracefully to the rim of the pot and peered over, surverying, once again, the strange country that lay ahead. Pondering its circumstance with a regal air, as if from the turret of a castle, it waves its tentacles first this way and then that, as though responding to a distance melody.

  • Two things have always surprised me: the intelligence of animals and the bestiality of human beings.