Monday, April 4, 2011

What Humans Can Learn from Animals

I don't often stray far from my topic of lion conservation and when I do, I generally like to stay within the realm of wildlife issues. Every now and then I run across a story or article that has too powerful of a message to not pass along. This is one of those stories.

We've all read the emails that make their way through the internet every now and then. You know the ones: a cat nurses a baby orphaned squirrel or a mother dog who lost her litter of puppies plays surrogate mother by nursing a litter of kittens whose mother died tragically. And if you're ever in doubt of the accuracy of any story that just seems too precious to be true, you can always check and chances are they've already either verified the story or debunked it. Well, this is another story of the same ilk and Snopes has in fact verified that it's true.

As we are all fully aware, nature can be very cruel. Wild animals are in a battle for their survival every day. There are epic life-and-death battles that occur every day throughout Africa and elsewhere in the world. The important thing to understand is that these animals don't have a choice. It's kill or be killed in the wild. But animals aren't one dimensional; they also have the ability to show an amazing level of empathy and affection towards other species as well.And that's what makes this story so special.

It was a human who abandoned this dog. Because mankind is the cruelest of all. Not the ferocious lion (who is on its way to extinction, thanks to humans). Not the tigers (teetering even closer to the edge of extinction, thanks again to humans). No. The cruelest of all is the human race. Humans could learn so much from stories like this. If we would only take the time. To stop. And observe. And understand.

The real tragedy is that the highly evolved, intelligent, and educated humans choose not to learn anything from the animal kingdom. Instead of simply watching and learning from wildlife, man destroys it. Instead of appreciating its complicated simplicity, its overwhelming beauty, its majesty and grace ... man would rather kill it in order to hang an animal's head on his wall.

And now I'll step down from my soapbox so you can enjoy the story. A very special thank you to my Mother for sharing this story.

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2003, Warwichshire, England

In 2003, police in Warwickshire , England , opened a garden shed and found a whimpering, cowering dog. The dog had been locked in the shed and abandoned. It was dirty and malnourished, and had quite clearly been abused.

In an act of kindness, the police took the dog, which was a female greyhound, to the Nuneaton Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary, which is run by a man named Geoff Grewcock, and known as a haven for animals abandoned, orphaned, or otherwise in need.

Geoff and the other sanctuary staff went to work with two aims: to restore the dog to full health, and to win her trust. It took several weeks, but eventually both goals were achieved. They named her Jasmine, and they started to think about finding her an adoptive home.

Jasmine, however, had other ideas. No one quite remembers how it came about, but Jasmine started welcoming all animal arrivals at the sanctuary. It would not matter if it were a puppy, afox cub, a rabbit or, any other lost or hurting animal. Jasmine would just peer into the box or cage and, when and where possible, deliver a welcoming lick.

Geoff relates one of the early incidents. "We had two puppies that had been abandoned by a nearby railway line. One was a Lakeland Terrier cross and another was a Jack Russell Doberman cross. They were tiny when they arrived at the centre, andJasmine approached them and grabbed one by the scruff of the neck in her mouth and put him on the settee. Then she fetched the other one and sat down with them, cuddling them. "But she is like that with all of our animals, even the rabbits.

She takes all the stress out of them, and it helps them to not only feel close to her, but to settle into their new surroundings. She has done the same with the fox and badger cubs, she licks the rabbits and guinea pigs, and even lets the birds perch on the bridge of her nose."

Jasmine, the timid, abused, deserted waif, became the animal sanctuary's resident surrogate mother, a role for which she might have been born. The list of orphaned and abandoned youngsters she has cared for comprises five fox cubs, four badger cubs, fifteen chicks, eight guinea pigs, two stray puppies and fifteen rabbits - and one roe deer fawn. Tiny Bramble, eleven weeks old, was found semi-conscious in a field. Upon arrival at the sanctuary, Jasmine cuddled up to her to keep her warm, and then went into the full foster-mum role. Jasmine the greyhound showers Bramble the roe deer with affection, and makes sure nothing is matted.

"They are inseparable," says Geoff. "Bramble walks between herlegs, and they keep kissing each other. They walk together round the sanctuary. It's a real treat to see them."

Jasmine will continue to care for Bramble until she is old enough to be returned to woodland life. When that happens, Jasmine will not be lonely. She will be too busy showering love and affection on the next orphan or victim of abuse.

Pictured from the left are: "Toby", a stray Lakeland dog; "Bramble", orphaned roe deer; "Buster", a stray Jack Russell; a dumped rabbit; "Sky", an injured barn owl; and "Jasmine", with a mother's heart doing best what a caring mother would do...and such is the order of God's Creation.

For those of you who think this image was manipulated, it was. But no animals were added in. Rather, just a towel was digitally removed so you could see more of Jasmine. When Snopes contacted the Nuneaton Warwickshier Wildlife Sanctuary, Assistant/Manager Stacey Clark told them that the barn owl was originally sitting on a towel atop Jasmine so his claws didn't hurt her, and the towel was digitally removed from the picture.

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And because one interspecies love story isn't enough, here's another from National Geographic.

Animals Matter. Every single one of them.

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