Deserving of Our Care… Animals (Passions Profile Challenge #2)

Meet Mila, a recent but very large addition to top rating news items and heated discussions around New Zealand homes, government departments, and of course Zoos, this past week.  Mila is a 39 year old African Elephant who has spent most of her life working as a circus animal in New Zealand under the name Jumbo.  She currently lives at the Franklin Zoo and Wildlife Sanctuary just south of Auckland, New Zealand.

Last week in a tragic accident Mila fatally injured her trainer and friend, Dr Helen Schofield. There have been many stories put forth of what really happened but what is important to my post is that Mila has been working with Dr Schofield for the past four years to rehabilitate her from her previous life as a circus animal, preparing her to live out her life at Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in San Andreas, California.  This is an animal who has been having behavioural problems and panic attacks on a regular basis and Dr Schofield had been working hard to help her.  I know what panic attacks feel like and they’re not nice.  I can only begin to imagine what it is like for an elephant.

My personal view of the care of animals is that they should be cared for as we would care for ourselves.  Accordingly Mila should never have been required to work in a circus, I doubt she should ever have been brought to New Zealand (conditions here are vastly different from Africa).  Mila has only ever had humans and other species of animals around her.  I’m no expert but I know that elephants are a herd animal.  They need to be with other elephants but in 39 years, she never has.  I wouldn’t treat another human being, or myself like that so why has she been treated that way.

What happens to Mila now is still on the discussion table but I very much hope that somehow my country can find a way to send her to PAWS asap.  That is the least we can do.  Unfortunately there is much debate and a lot of it leaves me cold.  There should be no debate.  We owe this to Mila.

Mila (formerly Jumbo)
Image via franklinzoo.co.nz

“I meant what I said, and I said what I meant.
An elephant’s faithful, one hundred percent.”

Dr. Seuss, Horton Hatches the Egg

 This post forms one part of my Passions Profile Challenge, so it’s important to say that my passion about the care of animals is not just about Mila.  I feel strongly that animals should be respected, both their traits and their needs.  I currently don’t have any pets as my darling cat Penny, died three months ago.  But the way I treated her was that I cared for her better than I cared for myself.  I was privileged to have her, and it wasn’t my right to have great expectations of what she could do for me.  Recently I heard a woman saying she wanted to get a dog because a dog would give her the love she craved.  It’s true that if she treats the dog well, the dog will respond in love but my perspective is that we should only get a pet for what we can offer it.  Am I strange?  Maybe.

Admittedly I have had somewhat of an about-face on animals.  I grew up being taught that animals did not have a soul and because of this they were less important than humans.  Because animals didn’t think like humans, they rated lower on the ranking of importance.  I really believed that humans came first, then animals and I suspect that continued down the chain to … perhaps pond scum.  But where did I learn this?  I can’t remember.  I suspect I learnt some of it courtesy of my 1970’s education but then maybe there was some type of biblical reasoning my parents or Sunday School teachers used.  I can’t check but I did ask one of my brothers whether he had learnt the same thing.  He had no recollection of this so who knows, maybe I made it up.  I do have a vivid imagination but then I have read of others having similar theories.

Now though, I can’t believe that I was taught that way.  All creatures are God’s children, and I believe that applies no matter who or what your idea of God is.  So my strong belief is that I should treat animals at least as well as I treat myself.  And yes, I think everyone else should be doing the same.

With this in mind when Penny became very sick and was suffering I ended that suffering by having her euthanized.  It broke my heart but I knew (and still know) that it is what was right for her.  I am comforted that I believe she is now with my Dad, both in my concept of heaven and neither of them have any more pain.

My inclination has been to now get a small dog but I can’t adopt a dog if I know I can’t afford to take good care of it and ensure I can cover adequate vet care.  I can’t do that right now, and so I have to wait.  I very much miss having an animal in the house and I would love to be able to care for, and enjoy a dog.  One day.

As for Mila, in my opinion, she needs to be sent to California to be in a natural environment in the company of other elephants.  The sooner ,the better so she can recover from the life so far.

PS.  You’ll notice in the related articles below that some have labelled Mila a ‘killer elephant’.  I find this so sad.  She is an elephant who made an unfortunate mistake.  Yes, literally I guess she killed, but to label her that way totally denies her reality as a victim.  Something which I am very much against.

I ask people why they have deer heads on their walls.  They always say because it’s such a
beautiful animal.  There you go.  I think my mother is attractive, but I have photographs of her. 

~Ellen DeGeneres

The animals of the world exist for their own reasons.  They were not made for humans any more
than black people were made for white, or women created for men. 

~Alice Walker

If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity,
you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men. 

~St. Francis of Assisi

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15 thoughts on “Deserving of Our Care… Animals (Passions Profile Challenge #2)

  1. I couldn’t bring myself to hit the ‘like’ button on this post, not because I didn’t appreciate what you have shared but because of the sadness of what you shared. I hope you know whaty I mean by that.

    Kind Regards
    Kevin

    1. Jaen Wirefly

      That’s how I felt too. Animals are amazing creatures; we should love and protect them not abuse and exploit them.

      Sometimes the human race is so disgusting.

  2. Dorothy

    What a horrible tragedy all around. I truly dislike the way animals are exploited. Thankfully I have always had a love for all types of creatures and my children do too. Whenever I’ve had dogs I’ve taken in rescues that no one wants or can afford because of medical problems. They always seem to know they’ve been welcomed into a home that cares and loves them. I put animals above humans for sensitivity any day!

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  6. Cate, I think I know why you learned what you learned about animals when you were little, just as I did: through people misusing the words in the Bible. In the book of Genesis, man(kind) was given dominion over the earth and over the animals, birds, fish, et al. Yet in the Garden, man was to tend to/take care of all of these. Whereas God gave us dominion, He didn’t meant for us to be cruel!! This did not negate what He said in the Garden. In other books of the Bible the word “dogs” was used quite often, but it was a derogatory term for humans. The book of Revelation, in listing who won’t be in heaven, uses the word “dogs.” Unfortunately most people take that literally. Again, I believe it’s talking about human beings!! I don’t believe animals have a spirit as humans do because that is something given to us as created beings that no other created being was given. However, I do believe they have souls as we have souls since a soul is described as “your mind, your will, your emotions.” Having loved dogs my whole life and having been fortunate enough to have known some of these amazing animals, especially my beloved Max, I KNOW they have souls!! My sweet Max, most assuredly asserted his will when he would vie now and again for Alpha Dog, which was my position. He also had a brilliant mind!! If I told you of what he did one day, you probably wouldn’t believe me!! I could hardly believe what I was watching, so I waited for it to happen again, with camera ready and took photos to prove what he’d done!! As for emotions, my goodness, I do believe sometimes their emotions are as strong as if not greater than ours!! One day I picked Max up from the groomer’s and as we were driving home, he jumped up beside me (he always rode on the floorboard of the passenger side where he’d be safe) and leaned his head against my shoulder. I couldn’t take my hands off the wheel, but I leaned my head on top of his and talked to him. I was deeply touched by what he did!! Whenever we pulled up into the driveway and into the garage I said, “We’re home, Baby” and he threw up all over me!! God bless him!! I knew then and there that the groomer had hurt him in some way, that when he laid his head on my shoulder he was SO glad to be with me again and when we got home he couldn’t hold his emotions in anymore and had been so upset that they came out of him in the form of vomit. Without trying to get us anymore messy, I held him and loved on him as best I could. I took him inside and cleaned us both up, let him run around the backyard as much as he wanted and then kept him in my arms, on my lap, by my side for the rest of the time it took him to recover. Thank God, they do recover!!

    Just as I feel there are some people who should have to pass a test and get a license and have it renewed every so often before they’re allowed to procreate and then “parent”, I believe the same is true of people and animals. I also believe that anyone who abuses a child, an old person or an animal should be arrested, held without bail and swiftly and heavily prosecuted by the law. These are not realities in our world, except in extreme cases, as far as the abuse goes. However, they should be!!

    Thanks for posting this, Cate!! It’s wonderful that there are people in this world who care about our fellow God-made creatures. Oh, by the way, in case you didn’t get it from a previous comment of mine, I do believe in a heaven for “pets.” I pray that God will allow us to be reunited with them at some point in eternity. If not, just knowing they have their own special Heaven is good enough. Maybe we’ll be able to visit from time to time!! There’s no way that my God, Who is SO loving and kind and thoughtful and gentle would take His creations and just allow them to end. He doesn’t allow the angels to end. He doesn’t allow us to end. Animals, while they may be in a different class, just as angels are in a different class from humans, are not any less, so I don’t believe He allows them to just end either!!

    You know, Cate, I get really, really tired of people thinking they know God so much better than anyone else does that they can tell us what He’s “really” saying!! His words are His words and they are true and right and just!! It’s our human interpretation and our shockingly humongous egos that are WRONG!!!

    Sincerely,
    Kathy

    1. Thank you for that Kathy. I really appreciate you taking the time to read my posts, and for your comments. Actually it’s brought a lot of things back to memory so that is helpful. My cat Penny died six months ago tomorrow and I choose to believe that she is with my Dad (who died last year) in heaven. Penny was a rather socially anxious cat and Dad was the only other human she would go near. Interestingly he had been allergic to cats all his life but never once had a problem with Penny, even when he was staying here.

      And I totally agree that animals have emotions. The day before Penny died I had her at home (at the vets suggestion). She was very sick and not at all herself but she still seemed more worried about me than her own state.

      I just wish now I could get another cat but I will have to shift out of my house while my earthquake repairs are done and it is very difficult to find accomodation that will allow pets. To put a cat in a cattery for that long would also be too expensive. What I hate is that I don’t know just how long it will be until it happens. It may still be years away, they tell us nothing. And I very much miss having an animal in the house.

      I too get tired of people thinking they know God best. I guess that’s why I stopped going to church. But my relationship with God is still very important to me. It’s just Christians I struggle with.
      Thank you so much
      Cate ❤

      1. You’re welcome!!

        I, too, have the same problem with “Christians” and that’s why I call myself “a follower of Jesus, the Christ” because I don’t want to be associated with what so many see as negative!!

        Take care of yourself and God bless you!!
        Kathy

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