The weight of words


Wildlife volunteering started up again last Thursday. They have a new system where the animals don’t have timers or sheets near their stations, their food and meds are coded onto a white board, and their feeding logs are much simpler now and live in binders, away from the birds and mammals. It’s an excellent new system, as we get out of there much earlier now, and this trend will probably continue into the season. In addition, we spend alot less time handling the animals, which is very stressful for them.

I learned an interesting fact about humans and wild animals the other day. When a predatory animal is killing its prey, it looks it in the eye. So, when we are feeding the animals, we have to try to look at them very little, because looking at them in the eye puts fear into their little hearts, and we are considered predators to them.

I helped a new volunteer feed the baby birds and squirrels that night, a kid named Adam. He’s a biology student at Foothill, transferring to SJSU in the fall. I decided I would take him under my wing and teach him how to properly feed the squirrels. He was so funny, looking lost but wanting to be helpful. My take on care is that if you can be shown the right away, you should begin right away. As he fed a few squirrels I kept telling him, “you’re doing great,” and he seemed to relax a bit. I just really wanted to encourage him to keep coming back. I guess it was my first foray into mentoring someone about how important this is. That we are the animals best chance for freedom. And, it’s important to start young. Adam is most likely 19 or 20 years old.

I recalled tonight a conversation I had with a coworker of mine some years back about animal rights and human responsibility. I was feeling very high-horsey about how cruel people can be and said to this person adamantly that I would always give my money to animal rights organizations. Then he said something that I will never forget. That we do need to support “human growth,” meaning if a person didn’t grow up learning the importance, fragility, and beauty of animals, all your time and effort into saving those animals is moot if you don’t put some of that time and effort into educating humans.

Let’s hope there are a lot more Adams out there.

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