Animals Are Returning, Nature Is Healing, and My Frozen Heart Has Thawed

“The animals are returning to their natural habitats. We are the virus.”

The first time I read this statement–or something similar–it was really earnest. Since then, stories of animals returning to their natural habitats, now emptier than ever due to human self-isolation measures, have peppered the news cycle and made the internet a place of gooey, drippy, sing-songy hope. (By that I mean that, of course, the internet turned it into a joke that has not yet—yet!—gotten old.) And I genuinely love it.

Below I’ll enumerate some of my favorite animal-centric news from the past few weeks, and I’ll try exercise some willpower by not uttering the word “baby” or “petunia” 800 times. You’re lucky this isn’t a podcast.

1. These ducks in Sirmione, Italy, practicing duck-social-distancing, six duck-feet apart

Tell me that if you saw this little flock waddling down the street you wouldn’t be intimidated as hell. Leave the gun, take the bread crumbs.

2. These mountain lions in my family’s neighborhood in Boulder, Colorado

I got a text from my mother the other day with just “oh my gosh”–A BAD SIGN for anyone who knows Angela. When I pressed her after a few minutes of eye-twitch panic she admitted that a mountain lion had been sniffing through our front yard, done a lap in our cul de sac, and peaced. But look how cute they are!!! I was like… OK, Mom. Go watch “Tiger King,” then we’ll talk.

3. These wild turkeys in downtown Boston, Massachusetts, working the runway

Sissy that freakin walk, my guys! For some reason all I can think of while looking at this is reputed turkey advocate Benjamin Franklinrolling over in his grave, being like “Look, you bastards!”—even though I know that whole story about him wanting to swap a turkey for our bald eagle is a myth.

4. This baby racoon boom in Riverside Park, New York

My history with raccoons is that they’ve only ever hissed at my outdoor cats and knocked over my trash cans looking for food, so often that my family, unaffectionately, refers to them as “trash pandas.” But this video of baby raccoons cautiously making their way down a stone wall just melted my stone-cold heart into a baby raccoon cuddle puddle.

5. These possums, nesting in flowering trees

When Edith sent me an email with a link to this story, the subject line was just: Possum. Reader: I’ve never clicked faster. What joy to discover incredibly pure images of large possums sitting in flowering trees near the Museum of Natural History where, on their lunch break, they can partake in self-education about their fellow mammals. Tender.

6. These goats with better hair than me, thriving in Wales

If I weren’t busy falling in love with them, I’d ask them for their haircare routine.

7. These dinosaurs, returning to Times Square

History is happening in Manhattan.

8. These cows, returning to the ocean

A special reunion <3

9. These Lisa Frank dolphins, back in the Hudson River where they belong

It makes the heart hurt with happiness.

Any thriving animal news–true or otherwise–that has made you particularly happy? Turtles chilling? Deer cavorting? Birds being absolute lil’ petunia babies??? Fuck, I said it.

Feel free to share below.

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