Bruce Watson's Slice of Life: Talk to the animals


Published: 1/5/2017 1:09:22 PM

There are many reasons to be upbeat about the new year and if you’re not, then I suggest you talk to the animals.

It goes without saying, although I’m about to say it, that we are all members of the animal kingdom. Face it. We are primates, just a rung removed from our near relatives, those apes you see scratching themselves in zoos. So if we are all animals here, it should come as no surprise that, like us, animals greet the new year with hope, anticipation and New Year’s resolutions.

It’s not easy to tell what animals’ New Year’s resolutions might be, but the crack team of zoologists I employ for just such occasions has decoded the assorted yelps, screeches and grunts in animal language to reveal what several major species have resolved for 2017. All to make you feel better. You’re welcome.

The lions had a rough year in 2016. Not only did they suffer terribly from the rising heat, but all major groups of lions — from African to mountain to the common corporate carnivore — were terribly disappointed in the sports teams bearing their names. That’s why in 2017, lions have resolved to watch less TV and spend more time with their families. (Lion families are called “prides,” a factoid I just pulled from the file drawer in my brain labeled “Third Grade.” You’re welcome.)

In stark contrast to lions, bears had a great 2016 and were sorry to see it end. Not only did the Cubs win the World Series, a feat that long-suffering ursa majors awaited for more than a century, but bears made a comeback in Hollywood. Hardly a family comedy these days doesn’t have a bear in it — lumbering through a campsite, looming over a barbecue, licking honey off a picnic table. So bears are “in” and happy. And for 2017, they have resolved not to let popularity interrupt their higher purpose in life, which is to eat. Watch for bears to eat more this year than ever before, and come mid-year, to be on Wall Street heralding a downturn in the markets.

If lions are resigned and bears upbeat, what about tigers (oh my)? With their numbers dwindling, tigers have simply resolved to survive 2017. To do this, tigers will be laying low, staying home nights instead of prowling, and in lieu of hunting, ordering take out.

As the new year gears up, the entire animal kingdom is concerned, but none more than squirrels. Leading social trends among these bushy-tailed sprites are not favorable. Crime rates are soaring, literacy is still embarrassingly low, and acorn storage remains a problem. What can squirrels resolve that will improve their lot? Sadly, the vast majority of squirrels has resolved only to upgrade their phones. And so another species limps toward the nearest cliff.

But you think you’ve got the blues? Consider what life is like for the penguins. Sure, they’re cute. And their tuxedo-like markings lend even the scraggliest penguin a touch of class. But with their habitats melting, kid movies like “Penguin Posse” now passé, and that ridiculous way they walk, life for a penguin is nasty, brutish and squat. And yet, penguins have resolved to make 2017 the best in their long
and depressing history. First among their many resolutions — lose a little weight. And once your average penguin has shed that plump belly, the sky will be the limit. Because they still won’t be able to fly.

Finally, as we gloomy humans look through a glass darkly at the coming year, we should consult the songbirds. January is rarely kind to them. Those that haven’t flown to Florida or further south can be seen lingering around bird feeders, shivering and pathetically picking at the dregs. But wait a few months. Then listen.

Bruce Watson can be reached at

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061


Copyright © 2020 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy