Our Best Stories of the Animal Encounter Kind

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We spend a lot of time talking about getting the most from nature as humans outside. But we share this big, wide world with a whole host of living things. So this episode is dedicated to our interactions with animals, including the time Luke almost got kidnapped by a sloth. Instead of just interviewing one person about interacting with animals in nature — although we should definitely do that later — we built this episode with a collection of stories shared from both listeners and previous podcast guests.

In this episode you’ll hear stories from: Dwight Rabe, Carol Seppilu (episode 58), Melinda Kilian, Rebekah Sanderlin (episode 40), Darcy Gaechter (episode 36), Sarah Schulting Kranz (episode 103) and Luke Bushatz.

Some of the good stuff:

[2:05] That time Dwight Rabe met a kangaroo and an animal we don’t really want to talk about

[7:46] When Carol Seppilu meets a musk ox

[13:08] Melinda Killian and the great trash panda caper

[17:06] Dogs are wild animals, too — especially Rebekah Sanderlin’s dog Hank

[25:12] Darcy Gaechter and the rare farting river dolphins

[29:48] Sarah Schulting Kranz meets at butterfly at just the right time

[36:54] The time Luke Bushatz almost got kidnapped by a sloth (sort of)

Connect with this episode:

Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation on The Humans Outside Podcast.

Listen to the episode on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

Amy Bushatz 0:06

So the show is called Humans Outside, but we know that we are far from the only thing in the wild. In fact, we share nature with many other living things, from trees and flowers to fungus to bugs, to birds and animals. Every now and then, we humans cross paths with wildlife in remarkable and memorable ways. Whether friend or foe, these wildlife encounters hold a special place in our memories, and make some darn good stories. After all, who can forget rare farting Amazonian river dolphins or the time they almost got snagged by US law at that zoo. And that’s why on this final episode of season three of Humans Outside, instead of a normal interview with an interesting expert or outdoor enthusiast, we’re taking some time to share some stories from listeners and past guests of their own wildlife encounters. I put a note out to all of our past guests and to our listeners and had such an amazing response that I couldn’t even include them all. I’ve had so much fun recording these stories. I hope you have fun hearing them.

Australia is home to some of the most remarkable animals on the planet. Something Dwight Rabe learned firsthand while in the country, visiting his wife’s family and getting ready for their wedding. Primary takeaway here: don’t mess with the animals of Australia.

Dwight Rabe 2:22

I was on my wife’s parents’ property for Christmas. Christmas Day I decided to get up for an early morning run on the beautiful farm property.

AB 2:34

She’s from Australia?

DR 2:35

That’s right. That’s an important aspect because I was about to say I ran into some kangaroos, which is what happened. I wasn’t even like half a mile down the road. I ran into what they call a mob of kangaroos. So I think there are at least 20 of them. And it’s I think I was maybe within 100 feet and they literally like all bounced away in all directions, except for one. Okay. And the one kangaroo that held back was a big black kangaroo that was my height, about six feet. And it is quite a remarkable beast. You can see the muscles on this kangaroo. It’s definitely lifting weights. But he was eyeing me and this is not a kangaroo that I would consider a friend. Perhaps I did not want to mess with him. So I just backed away and he kept looking at me, looking very tough. And then, you know, eventually he bounced off and that was the end of that first competition.

AB 3:50

So we did not have to have a fistfight with a muscular weightlifting kangaroo on an Australian farm. I can’t decide if I’m sad or happy about that.

DR 4:01

That was actually quite tame compared to the other.

AB 4:03

Well, you better tell us.

DR 4:05

Um, okay, so this one is a non-running story. And it’s also in Australia. But we’re in Northern Australia right before my wedding to Anna. And we were in the rainforest. And I was walking to the rental car with my dry cleaning. Okay, pretty, pretty nice day. And I opened the car door. I think this is like my first or second morning in Australia. But I opened the car door and inside the car door is a gigantic huntsman spider like yeah, size of my hand and he was sleeping. Ah, so he wasn’t like, you know, he was like a little bit smaller than his normal full size. When I saw the spider in my car, I, you know, my reaction to seeing this thing was like, I actually really started just laughing. Because it’s like, of course, during my wedding in Australia, I’m gonna meet like a spider the size of my face at some random point. That’s unexpected. So, okay, that was, that was kind of interesting. I really wish I’d had my phone to take a photo of this or even, like, caught it on videotape because it would have been YouTube worthy, in my opinion, um, so what I had to do was like, I got to get the spider out of the car, because I kind of don’t want it to hang out with me, you know, sort of going around doing chores for the day. So what I did was, with my dry cleaning, I grabbed the stick. And I tried to get him out of the car. And then the spider woke up and he was gigantic. He was as big as you’d expect it to be. And he didn’t get out of the car, like I wanted him to, he actually just crawled into the car. So like, there he is, like on the back passenger seats. So I’m like — well, this is interesting. I kind of need to figure out how to get the spider out of the car. Alright.

So what I did was I opened all the car doors. And then I went to the trunk and I’m like — Alright, I gotta get my arms clear. So, but the dry cleaning in the trunk, or the boot, I think as they call it in Australia. I close the boot door. And the spider was there on the boot door like staring at me. Like right there. First of all, I realized, okay, he’s out of the car. That’s a positive thing. And then he proceeded to make a vodka martini for me. And then he handed it to me and then we just hung out. But um, but the spider’s out of the car, so that was good. I tried to shoo him away with the stick. And eventually he kind of crawled down to the road. I’m like, okay, spiders out of the car. Great. I can carry on. Yeah, that’s my Australian spider story.

AB 7:24

I was hoping we could escape this episode without a giant thing that I shall not name any more or the ads will follow my voice and Facebook thinks that I want to see pictures of this, which I do not, for the record.

Native Alaskan, ultra runner, and mental health advocate Carol Seppilu is one of the most inspiring people I’ve had on the podcast. She joined us in season two. She lives and runs in a truly wild place in Alaska, where it’s totally normal to encounter musk ox on the trail or road, but musk ox are not small and they get spooked easily. Here’s stories of encounters of the musk ox kind from Carol Seppilu in Nome, Alaska.

Carol Seppilu

I took my nieces out on a trail run one day with my dog. And my dog went up ahead. We were going through some really big high bushes. And she barked very quietly, just once. And I knew there was something, and I took a peak and it’s a huge musk ox. And so I grabbed the girls, we turned around, and we went the other way. My amazing dog stayed behind to stand guard in between the musk ox and us. And once we got far enough from it, she started to come back, while keeping an eye on it. It could have been a really bad experience had I ran up ahead. So I’m really grateful my dog keeping calm and not barking a whole lot.


I need you to tell us about musk ox because I’m betting that people listening to this have never met a musk ox in the wild. They probably don’t even know anything about musk ox. So how big are musk ox and are they known for being calm and good tempered?


They are very big. They’re kind of like bison. They do keep calm around people but not around dogs or wolves, and they know that wolves are gonna eat them.

AB 10:36

That would make me be not calm too. So that seems fair.

CS 10:39

We walk past them all the time. Just chilling on the side of the road.


When they get startled, what happens?


They have actually attacked quite a few dogs in Nome. They’ll charge at whatever they’re afraid of. Well, I actually have another story. Tim and I — his wife stopped the car, she was waving her hand out the window and I had my music on really loud. So I turned it off. And we saw this huge animal charging right at us. And I thought it was a bear. I told Tim, we need to get out of its way. I grabbed him and we walked across. It turned out to be a really big musk ox. Tim had the bear spray, I traded my bear spray for a water bottle. Instead of getting out his bear spray, he took out his GoPro and he took a video of it. It was running away from bears we saw later down the road.

AB 12:32

So musk ox also do not like bears, just like people.

CS 12:37

Musk ox don’t like to run. So if you see one running, there’s something that they’re scared of that’s chasing them, most likely a bear.

AB 13:00

For some of us, wildlife encounters happen around the campsite. You know you’re not supposed to feed the wildlife human food, right? Well, fortunately for podcast listener, Melinda Killian, some wildlife doesn’t really want your crappy human food anyway. Here’s the story of raccoons showing us all what’s good in life.

Melinda Killian 13:21

Well, I am a little embarrassed by the story, of course, because, you know, being a hiker and a camper for so long, and trying to obey the properties of Leave No Trace, and being a good steward of the land, you don’t ever want to have an encounter where you accidentally feed hungry trash pandas. But yeah, um, I’d say what was it — 2015. My husband and I were out on a camping trip. And we didn’t have our dog, which I really come to think now, she usually keeps a lot of animals away from camp, which is fine. I’m okay with that. And we set up at this campground, it was the off-season. So we were the only people there. And we noticed it was kind of like, you know, dusk. And we noticed raccoons wandering around. It’s kind of odd, you know, but they didn’t seem rabid. It was, you know, dark. So we were okay with it. But they were, they were brazen, they came very close to our table and even to the fire as we were cooking our dinner. And we’re like, wow, this is not you know, we’re not used to animals coming this close. I mean, this just, it was uncommon. You could tell that these guys get into people’s camps. And this is a very popular campground in the summer. And so they’re like, oh, they’re just they’re habitual eyes to people getting you know, getting food from people. So we shoo them away when we were eating. And it was the night before Thanksgiving. So we had a couple beers and then we were like, well let’s go out to the beach and just enjoy this beautiful moon and the water and the views and put everything back into the truck. And you know, our food was just in bins at the time and closed everything up. We come back and we have our headlamps, you know, they caught little eyeballs in the trees as we came back. And we are like — Oh my gosh, look at that – somebody left food out and the trash pandas got into it. And then we started going off about, you know, horrible campers and people that just don’t know and you know, we’re having a good old time. When we get back and we see the glass on our truck camper in the back is popped open. Didn’t we close that? We don’t know. Neither of us can remember. There’s no video evidence of this at the time. And we look into the back of the truck and our big bin is popped open. And something has ravaged our food. There’s a box of rice crackers that was open. And it looks like they tasted it and they’re like — Nah, this is disgusting. And they threw it aside. They did not care for the rice crackers. We’re like — Oh, wow. Well, you have discerning palates. But our bag of onion rolls for like hamburgers was gone.

So now we have to go find the trash pandas, get the bag and the onion rolls away from them, which we did accomplish. But yeah, that was probably just you know, it’s one of those wow moments where, you know, 5-6 years ago, we were much better at policing our campground. Now, we’re better with food storage. I mean, I’m glad it wasn’t a bear. And it was only these really cute little trash pandas.

AB 16:41

Onion rolls are delicious. Where’s the lie?

MK 16:44

I know exactly. I mean, they obviously have better taste than we do because they didn’t eat the rice crackers. Which I think might be part of the moral of the story. If you don’t want animals in your camp, just bring gross food, it probably won’t eat it.

AB 17:06

Sometimes we get to bring the animals inside in the form of a faithful pet. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen our two dogs, Sam and Chloe. But just because they are pets, doesn’t mean they aren’t also wild. Here’s a story from Rebekah Sanderlin, who joined us in podcast season one about her wild at heart yellow lab, Hank.

Rebekah Sanderlin 17:26

So Hank was my first child. We got Hank, when I was about maybe six months pregnant. And Hank was a yellow Labrador Retriever. And he grew to be freakishly large. He was 110 pounds most of his life, all muscle, not fat. Just this massive, massive oversized dog, who had ridiculous amounts of energy. And sweet as could be, but incredibly smart and impossible to train very much like Marley of Marley and me. And Hank, earned the nickname Hankdini, fairly early into his life, because by the time he was about a year, year and a half old, he could get out of anything and into anything, he could open doors, he could open drawers and get to his treats, he could just whatever Hank wanted to do, like nothing was going to stop him from it. So when we lived in North Carolina, we quickly learned that Hank could open doors, he could, we had the round doorknobs there, and he would put his mouth on the knob, and bite down and then just turn his head and walk into a room. And so this was like, common, if you didn’t lock the door, Hank was walking in on you into the bathroom, into the bedroom, whatever, you know, he would walk in on me while I was taking a bath, and then jump in the tub with me because he was a lab. So I had quite a few baths with Hank. And all of our doorknobs were dented with his teeth marks. So this is Hank and I have many, many, many Hank stories.

So, I’m gonna back up real quick and give you a little bit more Hank back around. Again, at our house in North Carolina, when I would leave to go grocery shopping for an hour, I would have to lock the door knob lock, and then use the key to lock the deadbolt. And then I would put all of the porch furniture from our front porch in front of the door as a barricade not to keep people out but just to keep Hank in. Because he could open the deadbolt, he would open the doorknob and then he was so huge that he could pull through anything so even with that, most of the time, if I was gone for more than an hour, he would be gone. And the front door would be standing wide open and Hank’s down the street somewhere. But the furniture would at least buy me, like if somebody wanted to chat in the grocery store, I might get an extra 15 minutes, you know. So this is again, Hank. And in 2012, we found out we were moving from North Carolina to Florida. And then in true Army fashion, my husband found out that he had to attend a school on the other side of Florida, so we were moving to the panhandle. He was going to be at a school in Tampa, during our move. And I had just given birth to my third child. So Lucy was six weeks old, with two other kids, Hank, and I had to sell a house, find a house and move all on my own because the Army likes to make it fun like that. And so, you know, anyone with kids knows it’s impossible to keep the house clean with little children, particularly when you’re dealing with a newborn. So my mom owned a condo about an hour from where we were moving in Florida. And she said — Why don’t you and the kids just come stay in my condo while your realtor tries to sell the house? Perfect plan, right. So the problem is her condo was on the 28th floor of a beachfront high rise. And I had three kids and a dog. So the kids and Hank and I move into this condo, and you know, Hank is a dog, we have to walk him at this point. So twice a day, every day, I would have to take all the kids because they were too young to be left in there alone. And Hank, and go, you know, up and down the elevator to take him for a walk. And I’d have you know, Lucy, the youngest in a Baby Bjorn. And then Rudy would be in a jog stroller. And then Bo, who was about eight then, would hold on to the stroller. And then I have Hank on a leash and this is how we would walk up and down the street at this beachfront condo. I looked like the weirdest one man band, just people and things attached to me. And so Hank, in the course of this, learned the routes, and he learned the elevator, and he watched everything. And so one day, I was gone. I took the kids and we went house hunting. And so we were house hunting about an hour away from the condo. And I knew that Hank could open doors, you know, of course, because I’ve lived through all this. My mom’s condo had these bar stools, and I took three bar stools and pulled them behind me as I was leaving so that I could like, barricade him in again. And then the door was stormproof. So it was a really heavy door. So I thought — Okay, well between this heavy door, and these barstools, you know Hank will be trapped in here long enough for me to go house hunt. Because the door was so heavy that the kids couldn’t even open it and it pulled in. So I mean, he really he couldn’t throw his shoulder behind and he’d have to pull. So I really thought I was gonna be okay. But I’m sure you can tell where the story’s going.

So we were gone for about an hour and a half or so. We had just gotten to where I was going to look at houses. And my phone rang. And it was the front desk of this condo building. And they said — We have your dog. My phone number was on his collar. But I couldn’t get my mind around it. And I’m like, my dog is on the 28th floor. And they said — No, no, he was walking out the front door. And we grabbed him as he was walking out the front door. And so I mean, of course I said — Okay, I’m coming right back, but it’s gonna be, you know, over an hour before he can get there. And so I got the dog. And by that point the security team had pulled up the video footage. And Hank had indeed gotten out of the condo and gone to the elevator. We’re not sure how he called the elevator if he pushed the button, or if someone else did. And we couldn’t really tell if he was on the elevator by himself or with other people. Either way, it’s a pretty funny scenario because I mean, it’s hilarious to think of a dog pushing elevator buttons and getting himself down to the ground floor. But it’s also hilarious to think about just being on an elevator and a massive dog just walks in by himself, and rides down.

AB 25:12

When I head out on an adventure, it’s often in hopes of spotting an animal in the wild. But I’ve never been anywhere as wild as the places Darcy Gaechter visited while becoming the first woman to kayak the Amazon River from source to sea. She hoped to see dolphins. She did not expect them to be farting dolphins, here’s her story.

Darcy Gaechter 25:36

In 2013, me and Don Beveridge and David Midgley set off to kayak the Amazon River from source to sea. And in leading up, doing preparations for the trip, I read Joe Kane’s book called Running the Amazon. And he was part of the first team that descended the whole river and they did it in 1986. And he writes in his book that they saw a few pink Amazonian river dolphins, but he wrote about how they were going extinct. They only saw a few on their expedition, and you know, who knows what the future of these animals will be? So I went into the trip, really hoping that we would see one pink Amazonian river dolphin, like I run a whitewater kayaking business in Ecuador, and not in the whitewater rivers. But down in the floodwater rivers of Ecuador, they have pink dolphins, but they’re very infrequently seen. And I had never seen one, I was really excited, really hoping we would see one. So that’s my mindset going into this trip. The first month of this trip was whitewater, so no dolphins up there. But then we got to the flatwater section. And on the 30th day of the expedition, we’re paddling in the flat water and we’re pretty bored, and we just are paddling along and we hear this — like what is that? You know, and of course at first, I’m like — Don, stop farting! But we keep hearing it, it’s like, and then all of a sudden, we finally see a pink dolphin surface. And the farting noise was them using their blowhole or breathing. And I don’t know why whales don’t do it, but these dolphins, it’s a total total fart noise when they surface. And then when we realized what it was we started laughing hysterically. But we were very happy, of course, that we saw our pink Amazonian river dolphins. And that’s the first part of the story. So the second part of the story is, our trip was 148 days long total. And so from days 30 until about day like 135 when we got into the brackish water, we saw the pink Amazonian river dolphins every day. So we saw a lot and we were just super lucky. And that was awesome. But I really wanted to get some video footage of dolphins because they were pretty curious about us and they would swim quite close and I wanted the sound on so we can record these farting noises they’re making. So I paddle along, the dolphins would surface and then I’d put my paddle down and get out the camera. And then nothing, they would just go away. So I have hours of footage of the flat, calm river with no dolphins with me going — I swear they were just here one second ago! And I finally realized that they were really attracted to the movement of our paddles. So when the water would get disturbed by our paddles is when they would swim around and get curious, and when I would stop paddling they’d go away. So then I had to like bait them in. Like — Don you just like paddle in circles. I just saw some dolphins right here. So I’d make him paddle around in circles while I sat off to the side. I did successfully get some video in this way, but not close enough to hear the farting noises. so you’re just gonna have to take my word for that one.

AB 29:06

Sometimes our encounters with animals bring us just the right message at the right time. I consider the bald eagle, for example, to be my spirit animal. I know they eat trash and sound dumb. Yes, the rumors are true that majestic Eagle sound is actually not the sound of a bald eagle. But I can’t help but be wowed every time I see one glide by and they always seem to show up right when I need a reminder that I can totally do whatever hard thing I’m tackling. One of my favorite season three guests is Sarah Schulting Kranz, who works hard to be in touch with the world around her. She hadn’t been on that journey long when wildlife brought her just the message she needed. Here’s her story.

Sarah Schulting Kranz 29:48

So it was a time in my life when things were extremely — there was a lot of uncertainty. I was feeling very lost. You know I had found out that my husband had been betraying me for the 14 of my 17 years. And I was really going through a lot of healing from PTSD from simply that situation. And so my healing the way that I healed was multiple ways, but one of it was running on the trails, and going outside and paddling with dolphins and the whales and hiking mountains and all the things. This particular day, I was feeling even more – oh, gosh, even more just sad, super, super sad. I don’t even know how else to put it. I was feeling extremely low. And so I looked up into the sky, I remember it so clearly. I looked up into the sky, and I asked my angels above for guidance. And I said — I need a sign from nature from you that everything was going to be okay. That’s literally what I said, just give me something. And I was running on the green belt here in Hermosa Beach, which used to be an old railroad trail, and it’s now converted into a place to run with trees. And it’s just a beautiful little sanctuary, in the middle of this beach town. And I’m running on the greenbelt. And all of a sudden, this butterfly came out of nowhere. And it just landed in my hand. And I just sat with it, and I talked to it. And it was what I needed, it was my hope. I have always said that there are three words that I live by in my trauma recovery. These words came to me when I was paddling on the Pacific Ocean, and one is truth. Always speak your truth. Inspiration, find moments of inspiration every day. And hope. Find hope within yourself. It’s not about external hope with other people or hope for what other people will do for you. But it’s more so finding the hope within yourself everyday to take the path that you need to be taking in life. And that moment was my moment of truth from above, finding inspiration in nature. And then also giving myself hope, the hope, the internal hope that I needed, knowing that I was on the right trail in life. Because truly, that’s what I needed. I needed a message from above that I was doing everything that I needed to be doing in order to heal and to survive and to overcome. And to that I was taking the right path that I was taking during that time in my life. And that’s all I needed. It sat in my hand for a good 10 minutes. I just talked to it. I was playing with it. I was petting it, was literally like watching it, looking, you know, looking at the details within the wings, it was the most beautiful moment for me because I was connecting to something so much bigger than myself. And it wasn’t even about the butterfly. Like the butterfly was the meaning behind it was like you’ve been cocooning, you’ve been doing all of the things. And you can fly, you’re going through your own transformation. And you can fly, you can go out there into the world and become who you need to become outside of these difficult experiences that you’ve lived through, outside of your trauma, outside of the pain, outside of this one moment where I felt so freaking sad. But then just sitting there with that butterfly was everything that I needed to move through that right and to, and to have everything that I just know that I was on the right path. And I remember just sitting there, having this conversation, but feeling like I was having the conversation with who I always say one of my guides in life is my grandfather, he loved the ocean so much. And I felt like I was having a conversation with my grandfather, who had passed.

I’m the youngest on my dad’s side of the family. And when my grandfather passed, when he was taking his last breaths, it was in the middle of the night and I was holding his hand and I was having a conversation with him and saying just hold on, everybody is coming. So that when you’re passing all of your family will be around you. And so those last moments were just he and I together. I’m going to choke up even talking about this. I feel like in those moments, I was guiding him to stay here. And now he is guiding me from above and in my life and I feel his presence all the time when I’m on the ocean because he was a big water man and he loved the Mississippi River. When I was out there with the dolphins and the whales and all of the things, I was having conversations with and so even like on the trail that day, I was having a conversation with him and then just having that butterfly in my hands gave me the opportunity to also have the conversation with him and just just really connect with something so much bigger than ourselves. It sat there for 10 minutes and it just played. Awe and wonder helps to alleviate the PTSD symptoms in our body. And it really allows our brain to slow. And so when we can be most present with nature and most present with the things around us, it gives us that pause in life that we need to find the clarity, it allows us to breathe, it allows us to be in our bodies, instead of always looking and you know, finding the external, it brings us more internal. And so that’s exactly what I needed in that moment.

And then finally, I had to let it go, because I literally was talking to him, like, you gotta go, now. You gotta go now, because I gotta go pick up my son from school, and I’m going to be late. That was me on the greenbelt that day, you got to go, you go fly too. And so that’s what it did, it took off and it flew away, it didn’t want to, it literally didn’t want to leave my hand. And I was like, you’re still with me. And, and that moment, and it’s moments that we create with moments like that, that we create, that we are created with more so than anything. We don’t create those moments, we receive those moments, right? Those moments are created for us to receive. And so when we sit and receive those moments, they’re with us forever. And so that butterfly moment, I couldn’t tell you the date, the time, the year, I’m not that kind of person. But I remember how it made me feel. And so that alone, like knowing and reminding myself of how I felt in that moment, is when what even moments like this, like going back to it right now with you. And those listeners that are hearing it, it takes me back to a time and a place in a moment that I had so much truth, inspiration and hope. So we need to continue finding those moments, and they’re around us.

AB 36:54

And now finally, for my favorite story of the bunch, and not just because we’re going to hear from my favorite person, my husband, Luke Bushatz. This is the kind of story you only have because it’s baked into your memory from childhood. And it’s the kind of story you only appreciate if you’ve ever spent much time around a totally oblivious kid, or been an oblivious kid. So without further ado, here’s Luke to tell us about the time that — you know what? Just listen.

LB 37:23

Okay, so when I was five or six years old, my grandparents or my parents had bought us, a family annual members pass to the Columbus Zoo in Columbus, Ohio, which is about an hour from where I lived. And we’d go down there maybe once a month, as a family and all of the kids, there were four of us, we’d run through the zoo for a couple hours with my mom and see all the animals. So anyways, um, there was a rain forest exhibit in I don’t know, like the late 80s at the Columbus Zoo. And it was unlike the zoo today, where it’s a controlled environment, it was an uncontrolled environment at the time.

AB 38:09

They’re just letting the kids loose in there.

LB 38:11

Well, I mean, there was like a boardwalk where you walk through, right, but instead of having like, cages and nets that kept you like separated from the animals as you walk through, there’s literally like nothing keeping you from being two feet away from a python or I don’t know, like a poison dart frog or something like that. Right? Um, so as we’re walking through, we’re going through with a zoo keeper. And they’re giving us like the nickel tour as we’re walking through there. And I’m at the back poking things, because that’s who I am. As a kid, I poke things, I still poke things. That’s my personality. Okay, so we’re getting ready to leave, and I am standing there. And I’m looking at this cool sloth that’s hanging like, eight inches above me. And I’m like — Wow, that’s a cool thing. And I don’t remember if I poked it or what, but whatever I did, the sloth, rapidly for a sloth, reaches down and grabs me under my chin. Now, granted, I’m five or six years old, right? And the sloths being the slowest moving animal on the planet, shouldn’t reach down rapidly and grab a child. But this one did. And the zookeeper. I screamed, and the zookeeper turns around, and I don’t remember exactly what happened, but it was like — Oh, no! And like, grabs the sloth off and pulls it off of me as it’s trying to grab me and attack me in slow motion. But just conceptually, I as a five or six year old kid was attacked by a sloth.

AB 40:08

But how oblivious do you have to be to be attacked by a sloth?

LB 40:12

I mean, there were a lot of other sensory things going on, right? Artificial environment of a rainforest. Those fake misters that spray mist into the air. You know, pythons, poison dart frogs, a sloth. That’s the least threatening thing there. And then it attacks me.

AB 40:34

Okay. What did your mom do?

LB 40:36

She was like, freaking out. We got out of the rainforest exhibit, and she checked me to make sure I didn’t have any sloth bacteria on me. I don’t know.

AB 40:49

Were its hands–

LB 40:53

That that’s what the zookeeper was worried about was that I had been scraped by a sloth and would have some crazy foreign bacteria on me because they’re sloths so they inherently have layers of bacteria that’s, you know, dozens of years deep. So, yeah, we got out of the exhibit. I was fine. It was not traumatic to me, but it has been a good, you know, dinner story for many years since I was five.

AB 41:26

Yes, yes, it is a good story. Thank you for telling it today.

LB 41:29

Luke Bushatz survived a sloth attack as a child.

CS 41:35

I hope you enjoyed the wildlife stories as much as I enjoyed putting them together. That’s it for our full length episodes of season three of Humans Outside until September when we’ll pick back up with season four. We’ll still have outdoor diary episodes for you almost every week through the summer. And we hope you’ll join us and enjoy all the vitamin D and outdoor time this season has to offer. Until then, we’ll see you out there.

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