How can we describe animals’ different personalities without anthropomorphizing them?

Answer by Rory Young:

I find this question intriguing because, I have to admit, after many years of watching animals, I have a habit of doing the opposite. I don't look at animals and anthropomorphise them I look at the people and zoomorphise them.  The animals must become the focus and we have to separate ourselves from our focus on people.  Spend a long time with them and out of contact with people especially and one begins to see them truly as they are.

Every time I encounter a new person I reflect on what animal they remind me of.
Some are the hippos, plump and gregarious.  Some are like hyaenas, opportunistic and elbowing their buddies aside for dominance. There are the old elephant cows, just like hospital matrons, always in a hurry, no nonsense from anyone and always tired. There are many like baboons, teenagers to a "t". There are occasionally leopards, watching quietly and unnoticed yet understanding everyone else better than they themselves. There are warthogs, I believe their counterparts work "in the city". There are the guineafowls, just like the afternoon ladies club… Monkeys – gangs. Honey Badgers – fighters. Rhinos – Stephen Fry (they are a lot smarter, funnier and complex than one would at first expect).

Mothers of course are all alike but I can't help but notice sometimes how some are more like one animal mother than another.

I'm afraid I could go on forever on this, so I had better not. I do it all the time and there is always an animal for everyone..

I have spent long periods with little or no contact with people and you really do go a bit (or very) wild and can have big problems (and very funny situations) when you get back to civilization, but it is really the one way to get close to nature – on your own without any contact with other people.

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