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‘Goat Man’ recounts his ewe-turn in life

By AFP   |   25 September 2015   |   2:14 pm  

goat manA British man who wanted to “take a holiday from being human” is sharing his experiences after spending time in the Swiss Alps — living as a goat.

Thomas Thwaites, a graphic artist from London, used specially made prosthetic limbs to enable him to walk on all fours and even underwent experimental neurological changes to make himself more goat-like.

The goal was to see how the experience of being human could be transformed.

“I was kind of at a low ebb… depressed, a bit annoyed with all complexities of being a human and trying to make money,” he told AFP, explaining why he embarked on the project.

Inspiration struck when the 34-year-old was looking after a relative’s dog which looked “joyful, just happy being in the world,” he said.

“I thought, ‘wouldn’t that be a lovely feeling… I want to be an animal for a bit, I want to take a holiday from being a human being.'”

In a project supported by the Wellcome Trust, a global health foundation based in London, Thwaites spent nine months exploring the potential of becoming a goat, or as near to it as humanly possible.

He looked at getting a fake stomach that would help him digest grass, but had to abandon the idea after being advised of likely health problems.

Eager for insights into goats’ non-vocal behaviour, he even underwent experiments which temporarily blocked his power of speech.

The technique, called trans-cranial magnetic stimulation, entails holding an electromagnet close to a person’s skull to disrupt neuron activity in the speech centre of the brain.

– No kidding –

Thwaites even dissected a goat at London’s Royal Veterinary College before finally getting a taste of real goat life on a farm in the Swiss Alps.

Living among the animals for three days, he trotted around on artificial limbs designed to mimic the movement of a goat.

But life on all fours was not easy, he found.

“The main difficulty is taking weight through your arms for an extended period of time… we are not built to do that,” he said.

“I found it so much easier going up as a goat than down… so I found myself high on the mountain in the middle of the herd and then this kind of event happened, where everyone goes silent. It was like that bit in a bar, in a Western (movie) or something.”

Thwaites hopes the project will fuel discussion about the challenges of adopting a different perspective on life.

A book about his experiences — “Goat Man: How I Took A Holiday From Being Human” — will be published in April 2016.

Thwaites had originally thought he would like to try life as an elephant.

But he rejected the idea after deciding that they were too similar to humans as they “can get depressed and go mad”.



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