Seven animals that stole my heart

Seven animals that stole my heart

Chevening Scholars

Chevening Scholars

Class of 2018

It’s St Valentine’s Day today and as people all around the world celebrate love, we too celebrate the animals that have stolen the hearts of Chevening Scholars across the UK. Prepare to say ‘aww’ and ‘ooo’ more times than you’d like to admit. We did and we aren’t afraid to admit it.

1. TOTES ADORABLE HORSIES

And we love you, and you, and you. Neigh, we love all horses!

Azim Kassem, Brunei

‘These majestic horses and heart-melting ponies that stole my heart were from a volunteering event in beautiful Leeds at a charity called Hope Pastures. This humble charity serves to rescue, rehabilitate, and re-home horses, ponies, and donkeys as well as provide people an opportunity to learn about how to look after them. During the event, we heard incredible film-like stories of how some of the horses were rescued and also burnt great amounts of calories from building fences; digging up the soil, nailing, and re-nailing the fence when we realised the alignment was off! 

I took these photos to share the key takeaway from the volunteering event which was what the Hope Pastures guide told us. He said that his motivation to help the horses, ponies, and donkeys, amongst others, was to give back to the animals especially for all of its past great contributions and sacrifices to mankind. This was an eye-opener for me because I had never viewed horses in such light. As a student of politics and international relations, the Hope Pastures event gave me a deeper appreciation and love for horses. These pictures serve to acknowledge my profound respect for those who selflessly continue to take care of these beautiful creatures.’


2. MR TRUNK & TICO E TECO

We’re glad Mr Trunk has found love in the UK with Tico e Teco’s British cousin, Squirrel.

Andre Hedlund, Brazil

‘Growing up in Brazil meant watching several American cartoons and one was definitely special if you were born in the 80s: Chip ‘n’ Dale. Their adventures were hilarious!

Funnily, if you asked anyone in Brazil about Tico e Teco (their Portuguese names), they’d probably refer to them as “squirrels”. You see, the words chipmunk and squirrel translate to “esquilo” in my language. “Esquilos” were the animals of fairy tales to many of us who didn’t get to see them so often. They were the cute little creatures in films like Bambi and Snow White. Ironically, as a teenager, I could hear, and sometimes see, a cute little brownish squirrel outside my window gnawing away in the night.

These memories are probably the reason why I fell in love with these animals. I can’t take enough photos of them. I particularly like the big and chubby ones. The Eastern Grey Squirrels, I was told. It’s hard to grasp that these little fellows are actually a plague here. They’re competing for resources against their smaller reddish peers who have been here for ages and they’re winning. Makes me think that it’s a shame that two animals that are so much alike can’t live together harmoniously. If only they could talk like Chip ‘n’ Dale and work out their differences to simply coexist and gift us with their cuteness spectacle.’


3. PICKLE, THE ADORBS SAUSAGE DOG

I mean, even the meanest person in the world can’t deny how completely adorable dachshunds are! Just look at Pickle!

Victor Sangowawa, Nigeria

‘An animal that stole my heart over the past months is my friend’s four-year-old pet ‘sausage-dog’ dachshund, Pickle. On the day I came to visit my friend Heather in Brighton, Pickle was excited to see me, and as I picked her up, Heather said, “Pickle is in love with you!”  She took this picture to capture the memory of our “romance” :). 

Pickle spends most of her time indoors and whenever I come to visit, she runs up to the door to welcome me with her short legs pounding on the wooden floor, barking excitedly, and wagging her tail. She climbs up my leg for me to lift her up into my arms. It was great to capture a memory of one of these occasions.’


4. TECHNICALITY, ACTUALLY

We’re not sure if a model pig technically counts, but hey, it’s Valentine’s Day and if a model pig captured a heart, then a model pig captured a heart!

Kimberly Hanson, Jamaica

‘Taking part in a Chinese New Year celebration has always been an item on my bucket list and through my university’s hospitality scheme, myself and two Chinese students were assigned a host who graciously agreed to guide us through the New Year festivities in Chinatown.

I only learned that this lunar new year was marked as the Year of the Pig when a large paper sculpture of the animal greeted us during our journey through the crowded and dragon filled (yes, there were dragons!) streets of Manchester. Of course we had to stop to take pictures!’


5. BOULDERS… OR ARE THEY?

Ooo, seals! If you’re ever in West Cornwall, make sure you visit these beautiful creatures. Look at how majestic they are!

Aparna K, India

‘I had never seen seals before, so when an opportunity arose to see them at Mutton Cove on Godrevy Beach, I jumped at it. This trip was organised by the ECOSOC society at my university.

The day was destined to be windy and extremely cold with torrential downpour. Wrapping myself in several layers of clothing, me and my friend, Barbara drove with three others from the society to the beach.

We walked from the parking lot in the pouring rain, scanning all nooks and crannies for the sight of the seals. There was not a single one to be found.

Just as I had given up hope, our organiser nudged me and asked me to take a look down at this secluded beach surrounded by the cliff. It seemed to be littered with odd rounded-boulders with different blotches of colour. And then, one of those boulders wiggled to scratch its ear! Grey seals at last! I would have named them coloured seals – they came in such varying colours.

Alas, I had forgotten to pack my camera in the excitement to see the seals so I used my binoculars and mobile to get these memorable pictures of them. We watched them for over 45 minutes contentedly dozing off. Best day ever!’


6. DR DOOLITTLE: THE CHEVENING EDITION

We’re not quite sure how our Chevening Scholars are getting animals to come so near to them but we wouldn’t mind a five point guide on the subject!

Helen Pidgorna, Ukraine

‘”Are those parrots?” a freelance photographer approached me in Green Park to ask, pointing to the sky above. He could not believe his eyes and neither could I. These two gorgeous birds had actually followed me and my pack of sunflower seeds all the way from St. James’s Park where I’d fed them. A few seconds later, they were both back onto my hand, once again having their mid-winter feast. 

The parrots were not the only ones to enjoy the party though.

It’s amazing how many squirrels you can spot in London parks if only you bring something they like (be aware though, there are places where you are not allowed to feed animals). These little creatures seem to have their own forest “telegraph” notifying others there is food coming as you walk from St. James’s to Green Park, and to Kensington Gardens. They accompany you until you eventually run out of treats. And even then, some of them will still meet you on your way, climb up your legs onto your backpack still hoping there is something left and, perhaps, regretting they got the message too late.’


7. THE OLD MACDONALD FARM

If Chevening had a farm, we’d want it to include every animal here so we can walk around all day saying aww, aww, and aww. Plus, a final ‘ooo’ for good measure.

Parizad Baria, India

‘This whole academic year has been about animals for me!

From doing semester-long projects at the Edinburgh Zoo, to visiting the Highland Wildlife Park, to long walks on the Pentland Hills with Gaby and her wonderful dog Easy, to hanging out with Horses around my own campus and spending an afternoon with cats at Maison de Moggy’s.

From seeing well-trained doggos in Lothian buses, to dogs walking beautifully on a loose lead on the streets of York and Pitlochry, and not forgetting to mention the wonderful sheepies and horsies I see every day on my way to school and back!

The UK is a wonderful place for those who are fond of animals, and if you’re as fortunate as me, you could be studying Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare, and making it your business to hang out with these cuddle-buns as much as possible!’


Thank you to all of our scholars who submitted pictures and stories to this theme.

To submit your own pictures and stories to the latest themes, please check your most recent Scholargram for submission details.

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