Kenai, Alaska

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A moose visited our parking lot Thursday afternoon. She clearly wasn’t shy (I guess all my coworkers thronged around her and took pictures for awhile when someone first noticed her) and so by the time I got there, she was fairly quiet and just munching on the available browse. I decided to try out my new lens on her and she stood for pictures very well.

The first month that I lived here, I had to walk a dog in the dark on a remote road away from people (the dog was aggressive and the owner wasn’t home much, so I walked him early in the morning before work). Way out in the woods, we saw moose a lot, and one day we rounded a corner to be face to face with a bull moose, who began charging us. I screamed and sprinted back the way we came, with the dog barking and not sure how to behave either. But it seemed after a moment like the moose was more confused, as he swerved to and fro across the road. It seemed to me like he had just started running out of fright and we happened to be running in the same direction.

This isn’t to belittle wildlife. Moose can be fearsome animals that regularly kill dogs and harm people with their sharp hooves. But too often, we assign them this dumb animalian attitude of instinct rather than potentially nuanced thought. These animals have evolved in their environment the same way we have; we are not so distant cousins, sharing warm blood and external fur, among other similarities. Perhaps it is only the silence that separates us to assume the other is not capable of understanding, feeling or thinking. That is not so farfetched, given the way we treat other humans who look different, too.

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