Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Great Brazilian Animal-Off (Land)

After the resounding success of The Great Brazilian Fruit-Off (thanks Dimmi), finally comes The Great Brazilian Animal-Off – solely judged on which Brazilian animal of the land I would prefer to be.

Gambá 8%

Small possum-like creatures that live in my roof. Keeps me awake most nights. I don´t want to kill them though.

Capivara 12%

Capybaras are not so rare that seeing the World´s Largest Rodent (after Mickey) is a particular treat.

Marmosets and Tamarins 15%

These beautiful little monkeys will be much higher, especially if I visit the Rio reserve that is increasing the numbers of the rare Golden Lion version. For now though, my only memory of them is seeing a photo of one being smuggled overseas crammed into a thermos. His little face looking upwards depressed me.

Howler Monkey 23% (for sound only)

The amazing noise they make at dawn should come from a monkey the size of King Kong. Stay well clear of them though. You don´t want to know what they do if you get too close.

Maned Wolf 27%

Loses marks for not looking as cool as the Grey Wolf and for never having been spotted.

Puma 41%

I can´t rid myself of the association with Argentina and their national rugby team. Sorry. They do exist in the Pantanal though.

Deer 45%

I wouldn´t particularly want to be a Brazilian deer.

Onça 50%

Top marks for being the most beautiful animal in South America. No marks for being too intelligent to come near me in the wild. I haven´t even seen one in a zoo in Brazil! The Itaipu staff claimed he was hiding in a blind spot in the rocks. Que mentira. The closest I came was stroking a jaguar pelt that a crazy, friendly hippy and his lovely friendly wife were selling in Barreirinhas. It felt as wonderful as it probably once looked.

Coati 52% (for the views)

These little raccoony creatures have a cute gait and they will always remind me of Iguaçu Falls. Good to be able to get so close to wild animals in such a place.

Capuchin Monkey 58%

Named because of their love of a cappuccino first thing in the morning. Ok, not true, but very nearly for etymology students. Another cute little monkey with the hair of a monk. Good comedy rating.

Tamandua 64%

Such a unique creature with her flared trousers, tail like a flag and face like an ice-cream cone, but eating one thing for the rest of your life? I couldn´t be an anteater.

Jaguaritica e Jaguarundi 71%

Smaller cats such as the ocelot are beautifully patterned and very handsome. Perhaps a bit more of a Tasmanian devil-type personality would help though. Again, only known to me through the pelts.

Jiboia 73%

I travelled all around Brazil without seeing a boa constrictor in the forests and the jungles, and then finally, literally, bumped into one in a Florianópolis supermarket. Unexpected.

Macaco Prêto 74%

Cute isn´t the first choice amongst adjectives that I´d like to be called, but the spider monkey being the cutest monkey on the planet wouldn´t be the worst thing.

Tatu 77%

I´ve seen a few armadillos waddling around, and cute they are in their own way. In some remote Amazon village, I saw the shell of one that was big enough to bath all your children in.

Sucuri 83%

Yeah, sure. Who wouldn´t want to be an Anaconda? I also like the fact that one of the rivers in Bonito that tourists happily float down is named after these beasts. Foreign tourists would run a mile if they knew it was called Anaconda River. Uncle Mad also had a story about finding an 8m monster in the Amazon, giving his terrified Colombian friend the tail and saying ´Hold this – I´m going to find the other end´.

Paca & Cutia 88%

One Amazon dawn I left my hammock and walked away from our camp. I sat on a log and enjoyed the Sound of Sunrise. The bird chorus was overshadowed by a rustling in the trees. I was worried but couldn´t miss the chance of seeing something special. A little agouti appeared snuffling out of the jungle and went right past without even noticing me. I enjoyed the moment. It was only my moment.

Bicho Preguiço 92%

The sloth is one of nature´s finest gifts. Lack of predators made him lazier than a stoned koala. Talk about an easy meal. Easy fun too, as you can tickle, stroke and examine those long claws very closely in complete safety. Tap him on the shoulder and he only turns around 10 minutes later. Enviable lifestyle.

Onça Preta 99%

The coolest animal with the coolest name on the planet. I fell in love with them after seeing one in a zoo as a kid. The yellow eyes, the sleek fur and the hidden patterns. Loses marks for not being a true species, rather a genetic melanin mutation present in all spotted cats. Oh, what a mutation to have.

Anta 100%

The tapir is the winner. This humble little beast is related to the horse and rhino, but has a nose which makes him look like he´s training to be an elephant. One match-winning fact clinches his victory in my mind. The male anta has proportionately the largest ´fifth leg´ of any mammal. No animal in Brazil or anywhere else can beat that.

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