The last couple of years has made it difficult for us to celebrate all the usual things we look forward to – Christmas, Easter, birthdays, anniversaries, new arrivals, holidays etc etc – fortunately things are looking brighter for our festivities once again – but hang on a minute, surely humans can’t be the only ones who like to make merry?
When I think about animal revelries, the first thing that springs to my mind, believe it or not, are prairie dogs! These wily little mammals are extremely sociable and work together as a team when it comes to looking out for each other. If potential peril is spotted, then a warning call goes up from the prairie dog lookout post and everyone scurries down the nearest burrow. Once danger has passed, everyone comes out again and has a good old jig about, throwing their front legs up into the air in happiness that they were able to give the foe the slip!
Indeed, the squirrel family seem to be a happy bunch in general, with youngsters loving to chase each other around in the tree tops in a playful game of tag – simply enjoying being alive.
When it comes to playing, dolphins too enjoy a good game together and will often grab a piece of seaweed and play chase with it. In fact, most animal youngsters enjoy a good game together – it helps them to hone their skills for adulthood – but it’s also a great excuse for a thoroughly enjoyable romp about.
Just think about your pet dog, for instance, who gets so wildly excited when you return home, wagging their tail, maybe uttering some little whines of joy – proclaiming how happy they are to see you.
Turning to cooler climes, you’ll find those iconic birds, the penguin: many of which enjoy a good toboggan along the icy tundra just for the sheer delight of it.
Then there are others, who like a titter or two: take the Kookaburra – who simply loves to laugh, opening up their beaks wide and throwing back their heads for a good giggle – wonder what the joke is…?
Have you ever seen horses being let out into the spring grass for the first time? They’ll kick up their legs, gallop around, tails held high and maybe even indulge in a roll or two to show how chuffed they are to get out with all that sweet, new grass.
Travelling down under, we come across what has been voted to be the world’s happiest animal – the quokka (if you’re wondering, the quokka is a small marsupial that lives in Western Australia, on Rottnest Island). These amazingly friendly chaps love to come up to say hello and have become serious selfie snappers, always seeming to be able to smile sweetly for that perfect shot! Their cuteness certainly brings a smile to your face.
It seems that some animals hold very similar celebrations as our own: take elephants, for example – they show a clear outpouring of delight when a new calf is born into the herd; often other relatives will come along to meet the new arrival and join in the family festivities. Likewise, they will all gather to commemorate the passing of a loved one and will remember to return each year on the same day to do so again.
Now we all know that when it comes to parties, you always get one (or more) who clearly don’t seem to know their limits! Take the velvet monkeys of St Kitts, who like to get high by licking fermenting cane sugar; but if that’s in short supply, then they’re not adverse to pinching a sip or three from a tourist’s cocktail – and these guys aren’t the only ones to fall off the waggon! Bet you thought that flying reindeer were only a fantasy? Well, those reindeer are definitely high, after having a sly lick of some magic mushrooms growing nearby!
Nearer to home, your own moggie has a magnetic attraction to that catnip in the garden, rolling all over the plant in fits of delirium! Back to our dolphins, they’ve been known to take a careful snuffle of a puffer fish, whose secretions send them into a trance! Or how about the Tasmanian wallabies, who after a light lunch of poppies, find themselves hopping around and around and around, creating crop circles into the bargain!
Of course, there are others for whom just a little happy solace is enough – that lizard sunbathing on the rock, catching some rays to warm his blood; or that pig getting down to a good old wallow in cooling mud on a hot day.
It seems there are many of our fellow creatures who could show us a thing or two about how to enjoy ourselves! Party anyone?