by Inigo del Castillo in New Photography on Monday 14 April 2014

We’ve heard of snakes and ferrets as pets, but skunks? Also, did you know that every year, skunk owners gather in Ohio for a celebration they call Skunk Fest? In a National Geographic cover story about wild pets, animal photographer Vincent J. Musi explores the world of skunks and their humans through an unconventional but endearing photo series.

‘We built a temporary studio and invited a cross section of skunks and their owners to be photographed. The idea was to photograph the same kind of animal and show the diversity of ownership’, Musi writes. ‘What does an exotic pet owner look like? As you can see, they are as diverse as the animals they love. Their relationship no different than one might hope to have with a dog or cat’.

The photos show skunks lovingly cuddling up to their owners just like any dog or cat (ok maybe not cats) would. One photo even shows a skunk retrieving walnuts from its owner’s mouth.

According to National Geographic, Skunk Fest was founded by Deborah Cipriani, who owns more than 50 skunks at her Ohio home. The festival has become a gathering place for skunk lovers and enthusiasts for the past 12 years, and is set to hold its 2014 edition on September 13th in North Ridgeville, OH. The event includes activities like skunk education, adoption, and even a skunk costume contest.

Via Laughing Squid