In an era of Buzzfeed personality tests and "Would You Rather?" quizzes, it seems that everything we do or choose inevitably reveals an aspect of our personalities. Prefer fro-yo to ice cream? Then you must enjoy sulking in the shadows and avoiding social interaction at all costs. Do you spend your summers out on the beach? Oh, of course you are an understanding friend who is always there to lend a helping hand. Enjoy stargazing on a brisk fall evening? Well, you are destined to become a trailblazing contemporary artist.
If you could not tell, I am not exactly the most ardent believer in modern personality tests. More often than not, they take the form of lazily-written pieces of consumerist content, and it is absolutely bonkers that you can supposedly 'determine' so much about someone simply from a spreadsheet of random test results.
What I am fond of, however, is the concept of choosing a favorite animal.
I am by no means suggesting that your favorite animal is a perfect indicator of your personality or interests or where you are going to be in five years. Rather, I find it fascinating how and why people choose their preferred creatures. Whether it be their physical attributes, biological habits, or our simply personal experiences with them, the animals we choose as our favorites can actually inform parts of our identities.
I asked a couple of my friends about their favorite animals. Grace Chen ’23 adores hummingbirds. “They’re the only ones that bring me pure and utter joy when I see them,” she said. "They're very pretty and very resilient [in] how they constantly keep flapping." Calvin Johnson ’25 had a much simpler response. "I LOVE MONKEYS," he told me, insisting on the capitalization. When I asked him to provide a reason as to why these creatures brought him so much joy, he merely frowned and repeated his original quote. Torin Pelton-Flavin ’23 listed a number of different creatures he is fond of, but ultimately decided on hippos, because—as he put it—baby hippos are really cute.
I myself have always loved elephants, but there was certainly no logical reason as to why I started liking them. My first bout of interest in these gentle giants came when I was two or so, and it was mostly because they were big. Back then, I was still in the mindset of bigger-is-better, and elephants—being the largest animal I knew of—naturally cemented themselves in the top spot of my favorite creatures list. Yet even 14 years later, pachyderms have continued to nestle themselves a little pocket in my heart. Maybe my predisposition for elephants makes me more prone to appreciating their various attributes—their ability to mourn the dead, their exceptionally acute memories, their tendency for compassion and empathy. Maybe it's a matter of the scarcity of elephants, a constantly dwindling population that makes me appreciate the remaining ones that much more. And maybe that is all there is to it. We enjoy our elephants, hippos, monkeys, and hummingbirds simply because they are. They strum our internal chords just the right way, and we love them for it all that much more.