There is nothing more a single male photographer wants to do than to shoot a Valentine’s Day assignment. They can be full of moments or cliches.
I was lucky to be sent to photograph animals celebrating the holiday (and I must remind you that we are a family-friendly newspaper).
The Henry Doorly Zoo wrapped up gifts and left left them in animal habitats Tuesday. Most of packages contained treats.
I went to the Desert Dome and stopped by the meerkat exhibit, where they barely seemed to notice the packages. Soon after I started taking photos, furry little creatures stood on their hind legs and began a starting contest. It could have made for a cute photo, but it doesn’t illustrate the story very well at all.
Next I ventured into the gorilla exhibit to watch the employees deliver the treats to the primates. Workers were on an upper level pushing treats through a wire mesh. One of the western lowland gorillas, Bambio, climbed up on top to get his treat hand-delivered. It didn’t stop there: He wanted all the treats and tried to intercept them all. I’m sure we all know people like that.
In the orangutan habitat, the creatures were treated with frozen Kool-Aid in the shape of a heart. When Wgasa, a Bornean orangutan, picked one up and started to suck on it, I thought of the old saying “Eat your heart out.”
The photos on these types of assignments that tend to garner the most attention are ones that anthropomorphize the subjects. But many of the concepts we emotionally assign to the subjects generally have no meaning to the animals.
To Wgasa, it’s more about having a sweat treat than a sweetheart.