Men Who Are Dreamy Because They Love Animals

Slate's Culture Blog
April 21 2011 2:14 PM

Men Who Are Dreamy Because They Love Animals

In Water for Elephants , which opens this Friday, Robert Pattinson plays Jacob, a sensitive circus veterinarian who seduces the show's married equestrian star (played by Reese Witherspoon) over many, many scenes of elephant-snuggling. It's Jacob's willingness to put the animals' welfare above his own that wins Marlena over: She first becomes aware of his worthiness when he decides to put down a circus horse that's lame and suffering, rather than give into the demands of Marlena's husband the tyrannical circus owner, played by Christoph Waltz and wring a few more performances out of it. In their first big scene together [ mild spoiler warning ], Marlena sings the injured horse a lullaby, and then Jacob oh-so-gently shoots the animal in the head. True love ensues.

What's dreamier than a man who's so caring, so sensitive, that even wild beasts gentle to his touch? In Jacob's honor, here are seven other males whose way with animals is the key to their way with women.      


with Jessica Leader, Noreen Malone, and Katy Waldman

He's sensitive, he's smart, and he spends his days trying to communicate with dolphins. Young marine biologist Adam Eddington first appears in Madeleine L'Engle's 1965 novel The Arm of Starfish , in which he gets his heart cruelly broken by a wealthy young woman, who cares about the starfish-based organ regeneration project he's working on for all the wrong reasons. Adam returns in 1980's A Ring of Endless Light , in which he and Vicky Austin bond over swimming and talking with dolphins. Vicky turns out to have a special talent for wordless communication with the creatures and soon with Adam as well. It's every pre-teen girl's fantasy: Dolphins and an ESP connection with a cute, caring guy.

Michael Jackson, "Ben"

It's hard to remember, but back in 1972, 14-year-old Michael Jackson was still a major teen dreamboat. This hit single the theme song to the film of the same name is possibly the most swoon-worthy pop song to ever address a violent, telepathic pet rat. It makes you wish you could be the thing that Jacko was looking for .

Hiccup (voice of Jay Baruchel), How to Train Your Dragon

Bookish, gangly Hiccup is the worst Viking ever until he becomes BFFs with an injured dragon. After slowly winning its trust, Hiccup builds the dragon (dubbed Toothless) a prosthetic tail, allowing him to fly again. With his fire-breathing buddy, Hiccup wins his community's acceptance, his father's respect, and the love of a tough, skull-bedecked cutie named Astrid .

Tom Booker (Robert Redford), The Horse Whisperer

Tom Booker is a man of few words and strong physical presence. When the sullen teenager Grace MacLean comes to his Montana ranch with her horse, Pilgrim, after a riding accident, Tom quietly helps both recover from their wounds and captures the heart of Grace's high-powered mother, Annie. Tom's gentle approach to all three of the damaged creatures in his care is especially alluring when contrasted with his rugged features and muscular physique. Plus, he's nursing heartbreak from a past relationship. Damaged and sensitive an irresistible combination.

Jeff Cooper (Sam Shepard), Baby Boom

In the 1987 comedy Baby Boom , Diane Keaton plays J.C. Wiatt, a barracuda whose tough demeanor and workaholic tendencies earn her the moniker "Tiger Lady." But when a recently-deceased uncle leaves his toddler, Elizabeth, in her care, J.C.'s fast-paced city life comes to a screeching halt. She takes Elizabeth and moves to Vermont, where she meets sexy veterinarian Jeff Cooper. As an animal lover and a doctor, Jeff appeals to both J.C.'s budding maternal side and her sharp-minded professionalism after they move in together, J.C. opens up her own organic baby food business.

Crocodile Dundee (Paul Hogan), Crocodile Dundee

Mick "Crocodile" Dundee lives in the Australian outback, where his preternatural empathy for dangerous creatures like water buffalo allows him to safely navigate the wilderness. It's not exactly his rapport with crocodiles that wins over Newsday journalist Sue he has to kill one to save her life but Mick's derring-do impresses her enough that she invites him to come back with her to New York. There, kind and unpretentious Mick is the perfect foil for Sue's high-strung literati boyfriend, Richard. Even when fending off muggers, his charisma is unmistakable. ("That's not a knife," he informs one switchblade-bearing assailant before whipping out his Bowie: " This is a knife.")

Dar (Marc Singer), The Beastmaster

"Born with the strength of a black tiger ...the courage of the eagle ...the power that made him more than any hero ... more than any lover!"

Dar, the hunky hero of the 1982 fantasy film The Beastmaster , is so close to his animal brethren that he actually spends part of his gestation period inside a cow. (Witches put him there, natch.) He's the son of a king, Zed, but doesn't know it instead, he grows up as a humble villager. Dar has a telepathic ability to communicate with animals, and his posse includes a ferret, a tiger, and a falcon. According to Wikipedia , Dar and his eventual lady love, Kiri, meet cute when he comes upon her bathing and his ferrets steal her clothes. Later, his animal friends help him save his father's kingdom and Kiri from a horde of evil Jun warriors.

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