From black widow spiders to rattle snakes to a Bengal tiger, I’ve had or encountered them.
I spent a whole day in a livestock pen at a county fair with a full grown African lion once. Everything was fine till I decided to wash off her lunch (chicken). That’s when she “informed” me that SHE put that dirt on her chicken and she wants it there! gulp She was fine the rest of the day, as long as I stayed away from her chicken.
The lady I worked for had a Bengal tiger as a “house pet”. She had been trying to breed it (cubs were $3k) and needed to take it’s temperature. She asked me which end I wanted. Well, poop washes off better than puncture wounds, so I chose the less glamorous end. The tiger soon realized it and started sitting down. At one point, the thermometer disappeared, at which point I informed the lady that I ain’t goin’ in after it!
Another lady I worked for had chimpanzees (and a few other assorted critters). The female chimp was famous back then for being the first captive-born mother of a captive-born baby. She was completely civilized, and would sit at the breakfast table, drink coffee, smoke a cigarette and “read” the newspaper. It’s amazing to watch her light a cigarette.
The male they had introduced her to, in the hopes that she would civilize him some, actually digressed her a little. He used to sometimes steal her cigarette (they got 1-2 a day), so she would actually bum them from me. Ever had a chimp bum a cig? I wasn’t supposed to, but when they were in the outside cage, I’d slip her one. The male would sit and smoke two at once. It worked out good though because she would help protect me from the male when I had to crank the heavy door open; he could hit the chainlink so hard it would flex a 12" and smash my knuckles (his timing was impressive, too).
But, if I knew then what I know now, I would not have ever been near any of them. I now know how lethal they can be, and just how close to death I really was. It was a thrill of a lifetime, and I thank God I lived through it, but there is not enough wealth in existence to get me to do it again.