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Aesop told the fable of an ant and grasshopper who lived in the same meadow.
All summer long, the grasshopper would sing, dance and hop about, having a wonderful time.
Meanwhile, the ant worked diligently, gathering and storing grain for the winter.
“Stop and talk to me,” said the grasshopper. “We can sing some songs and dance a while.”
“Oh no,” said the ant. “Winter is coming. I am storing up food for the winter. I think you should do the same.”
Chameleons are remarkable creatures.
They have separately mobile eyes, prehensile tails and long, muscular tongues to catch their prey.
One of their most unusual and distinctive features is the ability that many species of chameleons have to change colour to match their surroundings.
It’s an extraordinary ability and one that we share.
We too have the propensity to change according to our environment.
Dolphins are beautiful, graceful creatures who swim through the oceans in search of food.
In their small pods, they hunt their prey, working together to achieve their goals.
Jellyfish float in the ocean with their tentacles dangling, waiting for an unlucky fish to swim into their reach.
They don’t swim, they don’t hunt, they just go where the ocean currents take them.
Some people are dolphins and some are jellyfish.
January 26 is Australia Day, so there will be a lot of flag waving, cricket playing and barbecues around the country this weekend.
Featuring prominently on the Australian Coat of Arms are two of Australia’s most iconic animals, the kangaroo and emu, leading to a common trivia question, why them and not the koala, wombat or echidna?
It’s commonly believed that the reason they are on the Coat of Arms is because they are two animals that are unable to walk backwards, signifying our aspiration and intent as a nation to always move forwards.
I love this concept and believe that it’s one that we can all aspire to.
A few days ago, I was working in my office and observed a fly buzzing up and down my glass office door.
It clearly wanted to go outside, but was unable to find a way.
Annoyingly, it buzzed around for a few minutes, distracting me as it went.
I got up and opened the door, but the insect ignored the opening and kept moving up and down the glass.
As I cursed the fly and its stupidity, I realised how similar we can be to the fly on the window.
Eddie the echidna was upset and marched up to his mother.
“I never want to eat ants again!” he loudly proclaimed. ”All we eat are ants and I’m sick of them.”
“But, you’re an echidna, you’re supposed to eat ants,” his mother said.
“Not any more, I’m going to become a meat eater from now on,” said Eddie defiantly as he walked off.
After walking for a while, Eddie spied a mob of kangaroos and started to stalk them. He saw one of the large marsupials away from the rest of the group and honed in on it.
When he got close enough, he pounced and landed on the tail of a massive male kangaroo.
When the farmer comes to choose the turkeys at Thanksgiving he looks across the barn and finds the most suitable for the dinner table.
The ones that sit there all day and don’t move very much, making their meat nice and tender.
The ones who spend more time at the trough, gorging themselves and getting fatter.
Perhaps even the grumpy ones who aren’t nice to the other turkeys, making them expendable.
The farmer chooses turkeys that have, without knowing it, prepared themselves to be eaten.
Similarly, when it’s time for a company to shed staff, someone will look across the office or factory and find the most suitable candidates.
If a lion is vegetarian, is he still a lion?
If he doesn’t use the long claws, razor sharp teeth, athletic ability and hunting skills that he’s been equipped with to catch and eat prey, is he really being all that he can be?
If he starts consuming grass instead of zebras, is he just another member of the herd?
What about you?
Ikenga was the silverback leader of a band of gorillas.
One day, he called his young son, Eto, to come to him.
“Eto, one day you will be the leader of this family,” he said, “So you will need to build your strength so that you can defend them from enemies.”
“Thank you papa Ikenga, I will make sure that I eat much fruit and grow to be as big and strong as you.”
“Good boy Eto, but there is one other thing that you must do to gain the strength that you need. You must fight me.”
“I can’t fight you,” protested the young gorilla. “You’re much too big and strong.”
“Yes, I am,” said the silverback, who smacked his son around the ear, sending him hurtling to the ground.
Eto scampered away to his mother, rubbing his ear and looking over his shoulder suspiciously at his dad.
A few weeks later, Ikenga called Eto over again.
Karen and I recently took the kids to a shark and ray centre, a terrific local venue where we could enter enclosures and hand feed a variety of shark and ray species.
It was a lot of fun and the kids absolutely loved it.
As we interacted with these remarkable animals, I reflected on one of my favourite species in the animal kingdom, the iconic manta ray.
These giant, gentle rays, which can grow to as big as 7 metres wide, seem to fly through the water. They soar, unhurried over the oceans, feeding as they go.
As other fish flit from place to place in a mad panic, these noble creatures just float about their busyness, seemingly impervious to the pressures of ocean life.
As I considered these beautiful rays, I wondered if I shouldn’t be more like them.