When it comes to cute, non-threatening animals, most people have a zombie-like need to touch them. Try to walk by someone walking or, most likely, carrying their Pomeranian without at least making a cooing sound or measuring up the owner to see if a petting is in order. It can’t be done. Even the larger, more speculative breeds like Shetlands and St. Bernards make animal lovers want to go in for a touch. It’s mentally soothing. It’s the only explanation I can think of when I do it.
Cute wild animals, especially when they look safe and out of their element, bewitch us in the same way. Sure, throw that boa constrictor that could crush my neck like a straw around my shoulders. You’re handling it so it must be safe, right? I saw a guy in college trying to tame squirrels in the quad because, hey, they’re cuter than rats. No offense to the rat-lovers out there.
So when I heard that a miniature dolphin died while a crowd of people passed it around to touch and take pictures, I was appalled, like so many other people. It happened last week in Argentina. A man caught a Francisciana dolphin, known for being around 5 feet long, cute, and on the cusp of endangered, took it out of the water, and passed it around a group of beach-goers for petting and pictures until it died of dehydration. How dumb do you have to be to take an aquatic animal like a dolphin out of the water for an extended period of time so that you can have proof that you held, and helped kill, the creature? To put it in perspective, what if some extraterrestrial being floating in space reached down and plucked you off the Earth and dragged you through the atmosphere and into the void. If you didn’t burn up in the initial ascent, you would eventually just pop. Whoops! Guess that celestial idiot should have left you in the habitat you were suited for.
So please, don’t act like Lenny from Of Mice and Men. when it comes to animals. Use some common sense when handling them, because taking an animal out of their element really is akin to crushing their head with heavy petting.