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What is it with animals that arouse a primal fear in humans? Maybe we can trace it back to our evolutionary history and survival.  

Psychologists Vanessa LoBue and Judy DeLoache conducted a study that showed adults and children are adept at detecting the presence of snakes and spiders whether they fear them or not, not out of an innate fear of these creatures but maybe from "experience or learned bias."

However another research showed that it is not so much an evolutionary response as it is a natural fear by the inexperienced.  Indeed, my close encounter and observations at the Kinder Zoo seem to support this conclusion.

Last Saturday, The Pergola invited the Kinder Zoo of the Manila Zoo to showcase some of its animals at the mall.  The Zoo brought over Julia, the meter-long, full-sized adult caiman whose jaws were taped shut; Snikee, a very active 7-foot Burmese python; Pig-Ibig, the sleepy Vietnamese potbelly pig; Mols, the dancing Moluccan cockatoo, who feasted on sunflower seeds and grapes; and Boji, the Sulcata tortoise, who moved relatively fast for his size.

This was only the second stop of the roving Kinder Zoo after a three-month stay at the SM North and the enthusiastic response overwhelmed the organizers.  

It helped that we got lucky with the weather.  Coming at the start of the rainy season, the Man upstairs must have a special love for children and animals because He made sure we had a sunny afternoon to make this event a rousing success.
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As soon as the animals were let out of their cages, there was not a moment's rest as they attracted wave after wave of parents and children who were by turns curious, shy, tentative, terrified, amazed, , delighted, exhilarated, and entertained.  

Given the chance to mingle with the animals, they began to relax and interact with them.  But not all children did; there were one or two who adamantly refused to let their natural wonder overcome their fear.

It did not seem to border on agrizoophobia, the fear of wild animals; it may have been more of a fear of the unknown for these children.  It may surprise them that many wild animals have a natural fear humans borne out of the fear of predation.  

But just as exposure to animals can make people lose their fear of them, so do animals lose their fear of humans after constant exposure to the human world.  However, this leads to dependency and ultimately conflict.  So fear on both sides serve to protect us both from upsetting the balance of Nature.
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I had my own chance to face my own fear of the snake at the Crocodile Farm in Davao City.  Dars challenged me to pose with a Burmese python--whose circumference was probably as big as my thigh--and have it wrap around my neck as was the case with everyone else.

Oooookay.  Piece of cake--except for that instance when I felt its powerful muscles moving as I held its length in my arms and my heart just stopped momentarily.  Let's just say that's why I prefer to be behind the camera.

When I was a child, I had nightmares about being eaten by a tiger.  It was not so much the thought of dying that terrorized me--I had thought that that would be the end of my soul too, and then I would cease to exist forever.  

Isn't that how the native Indians of America also felt towards the camera?  It may well have resembled an animal in their minds, ready to devour their souls if their pictures were taken.  Fascinating objects of wonder these are, animals and cameras alike.

See Picture Gallery here.
 


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