After a late night study session at the Rockefeller Library, Agasi Desta ’24 was expecting many things: a snack at Josiah’s, a midnight game of FIFA with friends, and a little reading of Solzhenitsyn for fun before bed. One thing he was not expecting was a skunk at the front of Diman’s door.
“It was just right outside the door and ran away once I got close. I went upstairs to talk to my friends about it later that night and apparently all of us had seen skunks around that door one night or another.” Desta and his friends now refer to that door as “The Skunk Door.” It’s only one of many encounters students have had with animals around campus. Whether it be a turkey that finds its way onto the Main Green or the squirrels and bunnies that are ever present around Brown’s green spaces, animals are an undeniable part of the University’s vibrant atmosphere.
“Animals are such a positive influence on campus,” Andy Yang ’24 says. “Walking to class and seeing an animal living their life just makes me happy.” Miguel Rivera Young ’24 remembers waking up on a summer’s morning during his freshman summer semester to the sounds of birds chirp-ing out his window. “There’s something beautiful about sharing an environment with animals,” Rivera Young recalls. “I remember whistling back to them in the morning before class, and then as I walked outside I saw another student whistling to them. It was such a great way to start the day.”
Of course, not all animal encounters are as peaceful as Rivera Young’s morning duet or Desta’s midnight skunk near miss. In November of 2021, a deer became trapped in the atrium of Morriss Hall lounge on Brown’s northern Pembroke campus, leading to a hasty student evacuation. No students were hurt and Animal Control arrived shortly after to tranquilize and safely transport the deer to nearby woods.
In addition to the wildlife on campus, students and professors also actively bring animals to the University. While professors have been bringing dogs to campus for years on end, Brown has recently made it possible for students with medical needs to register emotional support animals. “After getting confirmation from a medical provider, Brown didn’t bother me about my dogs on campus at all,” Leanna Kish ’25 recounts. “The dogs really help build community, and they’ve made me meet so many people and make so many friends I wouldn’t have otherwise interacted with. They have definitely made me more integrated in the community.”
Whether it’s small emotional support dogs like Leanna’s Louis and Tinky, or birds chirping in the morning to Brown’s early risers, animals both wild and tame add another element to life on campus. “Animals make Brown a more enjoyable place,” Rivera Young ’24 says, “and I’m so happy I go to a school where interactions with animals are possible.”