Meet the man who ‘took a break’ from humanity

Get your goat: Thomas Thwaites used false limbs to walk more like a goat.

Life can be tough. One day a man called Thomas Thwaites was feeling low — so he decided to leave the human world behind and live in the mountains with a herd of goats. Why?

What’s happening

In September 2014, the designer Thomas Thwaites spent three days living with a herd of goats. He was wearing a helmet, a raincoat ‘from his mum’ and prosthetic limbs which helped him to walk on all-fours. Now he has written a book about it, called GoatMan: How I took a holiday from being human.

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Thomas first got the idea when dog-sitting for his niece. He was thinking about all of the ‘pain and worry’ that can sometimes come with being a human. When he looked at the happy dog in front of him, he thought ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to have a break?’

He spent months researching how to walk and think like a goat, and even attempted to create an artificial goat stomach which would help him to eat grass.

In the end, he said he would recommend the experience to others — and he is not alone. The naturalist Charles Foster has also written a book about trying to live in the woods like a badger, and roaming the streets of London like an urban fox.

‘In living the life we normally live, we are living a life that isn’t natural,’ he explained.

Some say…

Trying to be more like an animal is not as strange as we might think. People often feel happier in the countryside because they are closer to nature. Living with animals is just taking those feelings one step further. After all, who hasn’t looked at a bird and wished they could fly, or watched a lazy cat and wished they could live a simpler life?

Others think…

This is nonsense — living with animals would not be fun. It is cold on the side of a mountain, for one thing. And while animals may have simple lives, they are rarely easy — they often live in harsh conditions, and some have to worry about predators. Being a human is more complicated, but that means we can enjoy more good things as well as bad.

You Decide

  1. Would you enjoy living on a mountain with a herd of goats?

Activities

  1. Write a short story in which you spend a few days living with an animal of your choice.

Some People Say...

“The natural world is always better than anything humans make.”

What do you think?

Word Watch

Prosthetic
A false body part. In this case, Thomas had extensions for his arms so that they could work like the front legs of a goat.
Artificial
Man-made; not natural.
Stomach
Humans were not made to eat grass, and they cannot digest it properly. Some animals, such as goats, cows and sheep, have a special compartment in their stomach which can. This is called the ‘rumen’.
Naturalist
An expert in the natural world.
Predators
Animals which prey on and eat other animals.

Subjects

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