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Wish you could understand what Fluffy is saying? The 'animal whisperer' class is in session

The skeptical could write it off as group hysteria, but this is the story of a man who spoke to an orangutan named Charlie – and was forever changed.

Growing up as the son of a classic Chinese tiger mother, it was inevitable my life would unfold like a kind of mystical prophecy. 

You know the one: “As the eldest son of the eldest son, you will be obedient. You will not play. You will study all the time. When you grow up, you will go to law school and become a lawyer, so that Mummy can have something to boast about during her mahjong sessions”.

Which is a roundabout way of saying that nothing in my entire, carefully orchestrated life prepared me for the moment when I found myself sitting cross-legged on the timber deck, in front of the glass enclosure of Charlie, the resident Sumatran orangutan at the Singapore Zoo.

Charlie the orangutan with the Linking Awareness class. (Photo: Natural Connexion)

He pressed the entire length of his shaggy-haired body against the glass, pushing his chest towards me.

On the other side of the glass, I gently touched the area around his heart, smiling and weeping at the same time. Occasionally, he hooted and thumped his body against the glass. But always, his kind, gentle, sad face with eyes that seemed to see and know everything, drew me in, so that I seemed to sink into uncharted emotional depths.

Fanning out in a semi-circle behind me were the other 20-plus students in my class, each one of them patiently waiting their turn with Charlie. By my side, Lucia Meijer whispered messages she was receiving from Charlie for me. And for what seemed like an eternity – though, in reality, it couldn’t have been more than 10 minutes – I became a more authentic, whole version of myself.


Even now, days later, I find it difficult to articulate what a life-changing decision it was to enrol in Meijer’s three-day Linking Awareness course in “intercellular communication”. Based on the idea that all sentient beings – whether cat, dog, parrot, insect or even a tree – communicate with each other’s consciousness on a deep, non-verbal, cellular level, the course is an intense exploration of the psyche.

Lucia Meijer chats up a kitty cat. (Photo: Natural Connexion)

The results surprised most of us, especially as dams of suppressed emotions were suddenly breached – at times, several members in the class broke down into tears.

“It’s not easy to listen with your heart,” Meijer said on the first day. She should know. A former marketing executive with Christies and the International Herald Tribune in Europe, it took the Dutch expat years to find her calling as an animal communicator or, if you prefer, animal whisperer. “But everyone can do it. This course will help you rewire your brain and relearn what you could always do as a child.”

Animals, we learned, are always talking to us, but humans have forgotten how to tune into the right frequency. And to re-establish that connection, Meijer helped us build an internal space – a heart-cave, she calls it – which is a safe haven for the consciousness of any sentient being to enter and communicate with us.

Lucia Meijer having a heart to heart with a bull. (Photo: Natural Connexion)


The second day was a practice day where students brought in their pets. It was a motley, but very well behaved, mob of shih-tzus and schnauzers, a paralysed cat and dog, even a parrot. Animals were assigned and the more sensitive among us immediately began conversations in our respective heart-caves.

“Don’t analyse what you see, hear or taste. Don’t judge. Just be emotionally peaceful,” Meijer said.

One student emerged from her heart-cave with a message. “Your parrot says he doesn’t like you invading his space,” she told J.

“Then you please tell him to clean his cage himself!”

"Nice to meet you too, lady." (Photo: Natural Connexion)

Meanwhile, I followed Meijer’s instructions to the letter, but still I heard nothing. And just when I started to feel a little despondent, the three dogs who had been assigned to me and who’d been stubbornly uncommunicative the entire session, broadcast a single word that appeared in bold letters behind my closed eyes: PERSEVERE.

Honestly? If you had told me Oprah had decided to adopt me, I couldn’t have been more moved.


On the third day, we went to the zoo. “Wah, so long I never come here,” said W.

We tuned in with the elephants. “The one with the yellow ears? She misses her mother,” reported G, and promptly dissolved into tears.

We shape-shifted with a tarantula, though I mostly just felt dizzy and an uncomfortable itch.

At the snake pit, I was utterly paralysed before the king cobra, but by the end of the session, something shifted within me and I found myself able to look sideways, though in a horrified but fascinated kind of way, at its long, grey coils.

The Linking Awareness class at the Singapore Zoo. (Photo: Natural Connexion)

But it was Charlie, the orangutan, who will linger in my heart and who best encapsulates the goal of the Linking Awareness course. One by one, each of us sat before him, touching his unalloyed heart through the glass, and each of us came away a little shaken by the flow of love and compassion that welled within us.

Did we imagine what we felt? It’s tempting to be skeptical and write it all off as group hysteria. But… this was something else. Deep inside, something had been resonating over the past three days of the course. And now, from deep within Charlie’s eyes came a response.

And for the first time in my life, I felt a part of the jigsaw fall, very quietly, into place.

The Linking Awareness course is conducted every two to three months. For more details, check

Source: CNA/pw