All this talk of bucket lists, wildlife and abstract journeys made me think of the ultimate trek; a fantasy quest where I choose a band of animal companions. An animal-based Desert Island Discs, if you will. Except we wouldn’t be confined to an island, there would only be four of them, and the only entertainment needed, aside from the adrenaline rush of near death, would be the animals’ ability to talk. If this were ever possible, these are the creatures I would pick.
When the okapi was first seen by man it was mistaken for a unicorn, making it an appropriate steed for a magical adventure. Also known as a forest giraffe, this dainty creature is used to navigating forests, hiding and keeping quiet, so would be ideal for infiltrating enemy territory. Its coat is a beautifully dark sea of mahogany and red wine, ebbing away to reveal white sandy stripes across its hindquarters, so unlike other modes of transport, I wouldn’t have trouble finding it in the dark.
2: Tasmanian Devil
A devil would be the ultimate portable bodyguard. Cute and cuddly until it opens its mouth, it could catch intruders and enemies off guard before separating finger from hand, or just flesh from bone, as a Taronga zookeeper found out. In the meantime, it could sit on my lap like a large Bond villain cat, although I’d probably have to don huge gloves while stroking it. Unfortunately, according to some aboriginal stories, devils were seen battling dingos before they were driven out of Australia, so this could make things rather awkward for my next choice.
3. Grey Wolf
The wolf would be as loyal a companion as any dog, but unlike most dogs it would be used to using its “smarts”. Grey wolves have an impressive lung capacity and as such are champion long distance runners, required for keeping up with me and my okapi as well as scouting ahead. Since there is no technology on this journey, it would have a vital role in long distance communication. Being a lone wolf, it would have experience striking out on its own as well as mingling with the crowds.
4. Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo
The cockatoo and its feathery, questioning squawk would be the sneaky thief and comic relief of our little band. Giving a literal bird’s eye view of the lay of the land, it could also rally its friends to mob our enemies, especially if bribed with food, or solve fiddly practical problems using its beak and talons. Teaching it to mimic enemy guards or annoying people would be an added bonus.
My animal band would be small and swift, so that we could surmount any obstacles during the day before curling up in a warm fluffy ball together at night. They would also be disarmingly cute as well as a force to be reckoned with, forging a terrifying reputation wherever we went. Assuming you’ve had such a bizarre flight of fancy, which animals would you pick?