National Geographic photographer Vincent J Musi spent the better part of 2013 photographing the world for the cover story that appears in the April edition of the National Geographic magazine about Wild Pets. During this journey, he shot a very interesting series with skunk owners and their often mis-understood pets during Skunk Fest 2013. That’s right, there is an event called Skunk Fest that connects skunk owners with anyone interested in learning more about these exotic pets.
Having grown up on a farm in rural south Jersey, I had many pets as a child, including a pet skunk named Rocky. I had never met anyone else that had owned a pet skunk before, and honestly had no idea that there were that many owners out there, let alone a huge event like Skunk Fest.
The idea behind Vincent’s shoot was to photograph the same kind of exotic animal and the diversity of ownership. He wanted to show what an exotic pet owner looked like, since they are as diverse as the animals they love. As far as the relationship between owner and pet, Vincent explains that it was no different than one might have with a dog or cat.
Skunk Fest is a popular event for skunk owners and has been for the past 12 years. It’s held in North Ridgeville, OH, and includes skunk education, adoption, and a skunk costume contest. It was started by skunk owner Deborah Cipriani who lives with and cares for more than 50 skunks at her Ohio home.
People always say skunks are like cats as pets. That always makes me laugh because it’s never someone who’s had a skunk, clearly. Skunk people know the truth of this quite well. Skunks are way way more affectionate and way smarter. They personify determination and a keen sense of ingenuity that would put a smile on Willie Nelson’s face and a tear in his eye. Skunks are as American as it gets. Sorry bald eagles. – Travis Hamza, Skunk Fest attendee.
Here is a photo of me with my pet skunk Rocky when I was a little guy.
SLR Lounge Writer Matthew Saville
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CREDITS: Photographs by Vincent J Musi are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.