When you think you have seen it all, people like Thomas Thwaites make you re-verify your own sanity. You begin to wonder if it’s you who is sane or the man who decided to give up his life as a human, applied for a grant – and received it, to become a goat or rather a goatman.
The 35 year-old left his life in London, packed up his bags and moved to the alps of Switzerland as he was fed up with his life and needed a break.
He had a lot of personal problems and was also jobless. For him, life as a human was so stressful that becoming a goatman seemed more appealing. He first had his idea through the inspiration of a friend’s dog.
“I found everyday life so stressful.” Thwaites said, “One day I was walking with the dog of a friend and I noticed that the dog just seemed really happy about life, without any worries, and I thought to myself it would be really great to be you for a day.”
He didn’t become a dog as he didn’t like meat, the idea of ‘being an elephant had appealed’ but he changed his mind on realizing elephants ‘seem to have the same problems we do – they get sad, they get upset and they can even suffer from post-traumatic stress. That was exactly the sort of thing I was trying to get away from.’
So, he chose to become a goatman.
After receiving grant from a university to study goat psychology, Thwaites tracked down a goatherd in the village of Wolfenschiessen in Switzerland who was prepared to tolerate him living with his animals.
With the help of a clinic in Manchester which helps people who have suffered amputations, Thwaites was able to get prosthetic ‘goat legs’ and was also fitted with a fake goat’s stomach – created with experts from the University of Aberystwyth – which was strapped onto his waist and helped him to secretly spit chewed up grass inside without giving the game away to his new ‘family’.
When I first had the idea a lot of people called me crazy, but I was fed up with my life anyway and I needed a break. I was jobless and I had a lot of personal problems, and
I suffered quite a lot as a goat, because of the slope I was constantly falling over, and of course I had to eat grass. Also the goats didn’t seem to like me very much, sometimes I thought they were really going to try and attack me. And they have particularly dangerous horns.
But I later realized that they were just letting me know there was a hierarchy, and I should know my place. The best moment was when one of the goats suddenly decided she was going to be my friend, and she just followed me everywhere.
She would muzzle me with her nose and like to have me close. The goatherd told me at the end that the herd had accepted me as one of their number – it was a great feeling.
Being a goat wouldn’t be complete without eating grass and that’s exactly what Thwaites did, he ate grass, real grass, like a goat.
He described his eating manner, “I could then strap this bag to my torso and spit chewed up grass into one opening and suck the cultured microbes and volatile fatty acids out another opening like a milkshake, so I can digest them in my true stomach and live off grass in the Alps like a goat.”
Thwaites who has written a book through his experience titled, ‘GoatMan: How I Took a Holiday from Being Human’ said:
‘I learned something important, and that is that even goats have a hard life and need to fight for their existence. Every day was tough, and that is something that just is part of being alive.
The one other thing I reckon I found is that goats are better people. They live much more in the moment than we do, and show us that we really do need to learn to be a bit more relaxed about life.’
“Goats are better people? Goats are ‘people’ now? Please what bathroom would he have to use?”