It helped that my maw was a farm girl, so we already had lots of animals in the house. But a trip to the zoo lent a hand. And rock-pooling in search of crabs and other small creatures. But the clincher for my entering research was the fact that even in the 20th Century, animals were still being discovered, while even more were being made prematurely extinct.
Animals are only part of the picture though, even to define an animal is fuzzy at the edges (the malaria parasite might be considered an animal, for example). Plants are fascinating, as are microbes, and to study animals without considering these can be foolhardy, particularly for a researcher of ecosystems, such as myself.
I always thought animals were fascinating 🙂 I always had loads of pets and I loved to have them! My dog (a fox terrier) used to find loads injured baby birds while we were going for walks…with broken legs, broken wings, starving…and I used to bring them home and take care of them until they were well again! Then I would release them if they were independent or keep them longer if I thought they could not survive in the wild…I had also hamsters, turtles, once a pigeon 🙂 and I used to try to put them together to see what they did and the results were great as they were all super docile! I was always trying to find new ways to make them happier and see how much they could learn! I guess I was already fascinated about how animals live and interact and I was so used to them that it was just easy for me to do it!
I also think having pets really helped me see how awesome animals are. I was able to realise that they all have different personalities and behaviours.
And then that made me look at the wildlife so much more… all these beautiful animals everywhere! What do they do? When they are ill how can I help them? Are people really making it harder for them to live?
And I think that’s how my brain realised not only do I like animals, but I care about them too. These wonderful creatures that have taken years to evolve to be that way. I wanted to know about them all… and I’m glad that’s what I get to do now 🙂