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  • When my daughter was four, I took her to an otter sanctuary for a day out. She stared for a while into the pool where they were frolicking in a blur of liquid fur, a thoughtful frown on her face. After a while she spoke, fiercely.

    "I want to be an otter."

    I had seen this coming. When she was two I would turf her into the garden on fine days, and soon she would be back at the kitchen door with a handful of earthworms and woodlice.

    "Look Mummy, wickle wockles!"

    Later she would catch tiny frogs in the long grass and learn to speak guinea pig. On a memorable occasion we were being shown round an all-boys school to see if it would suit my son. When we went into the Biology lab the teacher, spotting an eight year-old girl and thinking to amuse his pupils, said:

    "Hello little girl! Would you like to see the snake?" He had no intention of getting the snake out of its tank, he just wanted her to shriek with terror.

    "Yes, please," Rosalind replied eagerly, rushing forward, arms outstretched. Boy, did he look silly.

    She could always be counted on to remove spiders from the house. She even crooned affectionate and apologetic words to them as she cupped them in her hands and got ready to throw them out into the night.

    Now, after many trials and tribulations, not of her making, she has obtained a place to study for her Master's degree in Conservation at Imperial College, London. I'm so unbelievably proud of her.

    She's going to save the world! I knew it!
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