With a 3 am alarm jolting us out of our "Hotel 10" late 1970s single beds, we geared up and headed to Pripyat at 4am. The sun rises at 4:58 am here and we prepared for a sunrise shoot in the city center. Cameras out and drones calibrating, a fox trotted up to us from the nearby bushes, seemingly without fear. Immediately, we all stopped what we were doing, like we had never seen a fox before, and started shooting this beautiful, yet skinny animal. Arek got out some wafer cookies and tossed them her way and she got almost close enough to eat a cookie out of his hand. I broke up a granola bar and sprinkled it out for her; she sniffed it and walked back to Arek for more cookies, which she brought over to a spot in front of the Hotel Polesie, dug a hole, and buried. She hung out with us for about 45 minutes until she wisely decided that she was totally over it and back to the woods she went.
In addition to the fox, we've seen a small hedgehog waddling along the side of the road from Chernobyl to Pripyat, a lizard slithering his way around the rusty tracks at Yaniv train station, a very fuzzy gray cat at Hotel 10, another cat at one of the security check points outside of Poleski, working horses and donkeys around the town of Chernobyl, seagulls at the radioactive ship graveyard, persistent mosquitos, epic gnats after the rain, bees, major horseflies, bright red ladybug things on the ground in Pripyat, a moose standing in the middle of the road close to where there has been a recent forest fire, a wild boar (I missed it because I was dozing in the van), a pair of eagles soaring in front of our van when we left the church in Krasne after our wedding, and lots of dogs. All of the security checkpoints have dogs and puppies. I'm sure they'd be protective, if needed, but they greet us everyday with wagging tails and smiles. They must sense that we aren't a threat, thankfully. We haven't seen them yet this year, but Philip has video of the very rare Przewalski horses from a few years ago.