4 Unbelievable Photos of a Girl Who Befriends Wild Animals
When portrait photographer Robin Schwartz took her then 3-year-old daughter to the circus, she never expected the toddler to fall in love. But once Amelia met a baby chimp named Ricky, "the two of them couldn't stop hugging," says Schwartz, who captured the mutual affection with her camera.
That encounter inspired Schwartz to continue photographing the ways her daughter, now 15, bonds with animals. The pair have become creative partners, dreaming up whimsical, sweet portraits with all kinds of furry friends: Amelia leading the way for six llamas, curling up among kangaroos, cuddling with a camel, sitting next to a wallaby at a kitchen table. The 12-year project is now a book,
Amelia and the Animals.
"We try to create a world where there's no line between humans and animals," says Schwartz, who finds her four-legged subjects, many of whom are privately owned, through her network of professional connections.
Of course, inhabiting that world calls for some improvisation. Amelia once broke the ice with a herd of alpacas by sprawling on the grass with a big bowl of feed on her stomach. "We invent a scene and then go with the flow," Schwartz says. "We depend on these animals trusting Amelia. I want the photos to appear like I'm just a fly on the wall." Sometimes things do get a little wild on set—like the Canadian shoot where Amelia suddenly found herself airborne on an elephant's trunk. But the young animal whisperer knew to keep her cool: "Shiba had a tight grasp," she says. "She wasn't going to drop me."
Schwartz estimates she's taken Amelia's portrait with at least 150 different animals.