W is for water buffalo

WI’m all out of training terms for the rest of this A to Z Challenge. So, I’ll have to share some other things. Today, I’d like to introduce you to Bob. Bob is a Vietnamese Water Buffalo. He was one of the many animals being cared for in the college I went to back in 2000 – 2002. I went through one of the most unique programs in the world, the Exotic Animal Training and Management Program, lovingly known as EATM by students and staff. Bob, like a majority of the animals in the program, was in his elderly years. Rumor has it, he made an appearance in “Good Morning Vietnam”, a film from 1987.

Bob had many quirks. He had a beautiful set of horns on the top of his head and his favorite thing to do was pick up a tire and bounce it between his horns. This tire was heavy for us mere humans to pick up, but Bob would easily pick it up and then balance it on top of his head and bounce it back and forth between his horns. When he got tired, he let the tire just hang on one of his horns.


Bob’s favorite person on the zoo grounds, was our handy man. Every time he saw him, he would “squee”. Yes, a water buffalo will make a high pitched squealing noise when it sees something it really likes, or maybe that was just special to Bob. Why did he like the handy man so much? Apparently Bob loved the sound of drills.

When I was going through the program, smart phones were non existent, as well as digital cameras. There was no social media. So, all my pictures were taken via a standard camera and on film. No video from my wonderful experiences there. So, I apologize as the photos are actually photos I took of photos. I’ve also blurred out the faces of my classmates to protect their innocence. *wink*


I think it’s really important to talk about something that you may have noticed about Bob. Bob has a nose ring. Bob was not kept in an enclosure all day long. He would come out on walks and he would also participate in shows. In fact, Bob had a great smile. You would ask him to smile and he would lift his upper lip and reveal his pearly whites. Or not so pearly whites as the case may be.

smiling though unable to see it.

smiling though unable to see it.

An animal activist would look at these pictures and tell you we are torturing Bob. They would tell you that we hurt Bob and pull him every where by his nose ring. That we “force” Bob to do what we want him to do. Bob weighed over 1000 lbs. There was no forcing Bob anywhere. The nose ring, was a safety tool. It was safety for us and Bob. If Bob didn’t want to do anything, there was no possible way we could force him to. If Bob was scheduled to do an appearance for a show, which required him to be walked from his enclosure and to the show stage, and he was unwilling to leave his enclosure, well, Bob didn’t show up for the show. Another animal would take his place.


In order to walk Bob, 3 people were present. One person was kind of an escort. One person held a lead rope, attached to the nose ring, and another person held a sturdy bar, also attached to the nose ring. Yes, the bar was used to have more control over Bob, or Bob would just walk to and destroy whatever he wanted. Let’s not forget the size of Bob’s horns either, which he knew exactly how long they were and how far they could reach. Bob had a favorite bush that he would have to walk past in order to get to the stage, it was essential that we steer him clear of that bush prior to a show, or he’d never get to the stage. Anyone who’s owned any animals with horns (goats, cows, sheep, etc), know how much they love being able to rub their heads and horns against things. This particular bush was Bob’s favorite spot to do so. Bob was allowed to do all that head rubbing after the show. It was a form of reinforcement for him.

It’s important to know, that not all tools used on animals are used in malicious and torturous ways. I’m not saying there aren’t people out there in the world that use nose rings or nose pegs in horrific and abusive ways, but there are lots of good people out there, like me, that simply use them as a safety tool. We never used Bob’s nose ring to force him into doing anything he didn’t want to. Like I said, there was no forcing a 1000+ lb animal to do anything, even with a nose ring. The below photo (click to enlarge) is a very good example of safety with Bob. He can always have the upper hand. If you look closely, Bob got his other horn within my classmate’s hand and the lead she was holding onto. It was up to my other classmate holding the bar, to get Bob back in line again.

bob3Bob has since moved on to water buffalo heaven. Now there is a new water buffalo named Walter.

© Semi Charmed Life

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge


4 thoughts on “W is for water buffalo

  1. It is amazing the number of people who don’t understand the need for nose rings for certain animals, bulls for example.

    I used to work with horses and in certain situations a twitch would be used for the safety of the animal as well as the humans working with them – provided these implements are used correctly no harm should come to anyone including the animal!

    I’ve been enjoying this series of yours!

    ~Mia~ xx

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