Britain’s Got Talent, America’s Got Talent, Arabs Got Talent – we can probably agree that humans have talent. But what about animals?
Words: Miles Buckeridge
A question rarely asked, but arguably of equal importance, is: do animals have talent? There is a good reason we don’t see any monkeys wrestling their way through a Chekhov monologue on Broadway, but it is worth remembering that Pudsey, a dog, made up 50 per cent of the team that won Britain’s Got Talent in 2012.
It’s true that some animals come with great talents, but who then, can be called upon to hold the paws, claws or fins of these skilled species? Enter Karalynn Thomson, Dubai resident, British expat and founder of The Animal Agency, the UAE’s first and only animal talent agency.
Thomson was inspired to start her venture after watching a documentary featuring similar agencies in the US and the UK. And there it began, initially with only two clients – her own pet dogs, Minie and Remy.
Then following a spotlight search for stars through the local media, the agency’s books began to burgeon with more and more brilliant beasts.
Among the many gifted performers is a Peregrine Falcon, Scar – trained to wear a tiny camera and able to capture sequences so thrilling, drones across the country would explode with jealousy.
Also represented are: Oreo, a beautiful rescue Argentinian Tegu lizard; a Versicolour Tarantula and Harley, the appropriately-named great Great Dane who just wrapped up a Vogue shoot with Russian supermodel Natasha Poly!
The agency also has a special category of ‘Arabian heritage’ talent. These animals, from camels to stallions, are proud and passionate ambassadors of the region.
Think your pet could be the next Kitty Perry (sorry) or Justin Beaver (sorry again)?
Thomson offered us an exclusive insight in to what they look for: “The animals we work with need to be confident, the sets we work on are usually very busy, noisy places.” To make them stand out, it helps if they “have a level of training, a special trick or skill always sets them apart”. They are also on the lookout for “mixed breed animals who have their own unique look”.
The future is looking busy for Thomson and her menagerie, who is soon to be expanding in to Abu Dhabi and also launching a charity which, fascinatingly, uses highly trained dogs to assist children with their reading (readingdogsuae.com).
Then there’s the day to day practical challenges of counting chickens and herding cats, which if the stories behind the scenes of the recent Jumeirah hotels shoot was anything to go by, are as hilarious as they are demanding. Think cats and gym.