Today I watched a youtube video that a friend posted on facebook of a kitten riding on a turtle. I began wondering how many people might be bothered by this video. Some would say it is not normal and our desire to domesticate these animals forced them into this type of wacky scenario. But what does it mean when someone says something is “against nature.” Is that even possible? Is there some sort of nature rule book that I failed to read? Because all I can tell is that the world is in a constant state of evolution. We adapt to our surroundings. So if a kitten is near a turtle and it wants to jump on for a lift, it’s going to happen.
A few nights ago I watched the documentary “Grizzly Man” with some friends. “Grizzly Man” is about Timothy Treadwell, a Californian who made it his life’s work to live in Alaska with bears during the summers. He filmed his own footage with the bears, and gave the bears hilarious names like Mr. Chocolate and Sgt. Brown. He talked to the bears as if they were humans. Giant mammoth grizzly bears with teeth and fangs and claws he treated as though they were as non-threatening as newborn puppies.
After thirteen summers with the bears, he eventually was brutally eaten by a bear. His sad fate is an ironic tragedy, but in a way Treadwell died doing what he loved. There are interviews with friends of Treadwell, and many of them basically said they were just waiting for the day he was going to be eaten by a bear, and that Treadwell didn’t understand the basic life rule that humans avoid bears, and bears avoid humans.
Treadwell didn’t want to live that way. He wanted to know what it would be like to be another creature. And maybe the kitten in the silly youtube video just wanted to know what it was like to be a turtle for a few minutes. Curiosity is our nature. It can also lead to our own demise. But I for one feel it is better to try to connect with other creatures than to live a life being afraid of them. I’m not about to go live with a bunch of growling deadly bears, but I do understand the need to feel connected with a creature that is not human. Humans can be fickle and disappointing and they can break your heart. Most animals seem to us to be a big ball of love.
I think Treadwell was just trying to feel unconditional love, and for quite some time he thought he’d found that in the bear community. While watching the film, I kept telling my friend that I didn’t think Treadwell was crazy…and then he would do something like begin petting a pile of bear poo because it had ‘been inside one of the bears’. And then we would laugh hysterically, then feel badly for laughing because Treadwell died so horribly.
But I somehow think Treadwell would have appreciated that we as humans were connecting with each other while watching his interactions with the bears. He had a sense of humor, a passion for life, and a deep love of the animals of the earth. He is an inspiration, and I think Mr. Chocolate and Sgt. Brown are still out there looking for their fallen human friend.