As published in the Alumni Edition of the Cherry Hill, NJ Y.A.L.E. School Newsletter, where I formerly held a monthly column called “The Zoophanatic.”
Animals are great. They gladly work for humans, serve as our companions, and wild animals are sight for us to behold, as long as we treat them with respect. However, we tend to find diminutive animals to be cuter, perhaps because they remind us of our own young. Here are five adorable examples.
- Singapura. With a weight of 4 to 8 pounds (as opposed to the average weight of a cat, which is 8 to 12 pounds) the Singapura is one of the smallest cat breeds available. Most of them come in a sort of sepia color, and they’re all the more endearing with their large eyes in proportion to their faces. They are playful, intelligent, and family-friendly, as long as the kids don’t roughhouse with them. They are, however, very vocal, and so not the best choice for a person who needs quiet.
- Panda cow. Panda cows only grow to a height of about 3.5 feet, as opposed to the 5 or 6 feet of an average cow. Panda cows are named for their distinct black and white patterning. It is an extremely rare breed; there are reported to be less than 30 of the little guys in the entire world! When sold, the calves can cost up to around $30,000.
- Pygmy hippopotamus. The pygmy hippo is, as its name implies, a diminutive version of the more well-known, larger hippos that often live in colonies. The pygmy, however, is solitary. Wild specimens can be found in Liberia and on the outskirts of Ivory Coast. Unfortunately, they are an endangered species, in part due to war action in Liberia. However, they have a fair zoo population, which may help restore the species in the future.
- Pygmy goat. An adult pygmy goat can reach a weight of up to 86 pounds. Other, larger breeds of goat can weigh up to 310 pounds. In spite of their small size, they are stocky, and were in fact originally bred as meat goats. Nowadays, they are more common as backyard pets or as residents of petting zoos. Pygmy goats are excellent for both of these purposes, because they are known to be friendly and amiable animals. As pets, pygmy goats should be kept outside, because they can be destructive indoors and are grazers who naturally like to nibble at grass. Basically, they will mow and fertilize your lawn at the same time. They have to be kept warm during the winter and need a shelter to protect them from predators, since they are prey animals. Since goats are herd animals, they will need another animal to live with them. It’s also worth mentioning that pygmies can produce quality milk, so you get bonus points at breakfast if you have a female.
- Miniature Horse. This diminutive version of the maned barnyard giant grows to a maximum of 38 inches. Because of their friendly disposition, they make great pets, although they have seen action as service animals. In fact, miniature horses are now being trained as guide animals for the blind as an alternative for people who are allergic to or fearful of dogs. Horses also typically live much longer than dogs.