Monday, March 28, 2011

One of the Pride

"From the moment Christian sat on my feet and licked my hand on my second day at Kora, I was hooked for life. I soon discovered that
if you treat lions with respect, understanding, and love,
they respond with their trust and affection.
Once they've given you that,
they don't take it back
and neither should you."
--Tony Fitzjohn
in his new book, Born Wild
I think that applies to all animals.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Satire... Or Too Real?

The Onion is probably the top source of cultural satire in America today. It is said that satire has its origins in anger, and that may be why a recent article on The Onion's site cuts so deep. Following is a condensation of that article (full article can be found here), which I feel compelled to post since Easter is approaching.
Darien, CT -- In a familiar sign that spring is just around the corner, animal shelters across the nation announced this week that they have put down the last batch of dogs that were given as Christmas gifts in 2008.

"It's that time of year again," said animal control specialist Erica Tierney, throwing the carcass of yet another 2-year-old Labradoodle into an incinerator. As soon as the weather starts to warm up, we find ourselves administering pentobarbital injections to those final few puppies who were once a welcome Christmas gift, but who gradually became less adorable until they were no longer able to elicit the sympathy of their owners.

"Two years ago we bought Lisa a puppy for Christmas," said Jason Hutton of San Diego, who quietly abandoned his daughter's Lhasa apso by the side of a road when he grew weary of family arguments over whose turn it was to feed it. "And there came a point where it just wasn't a puppy anymore, you know?"

According to animal control officials, the breeds of the dogs they are most commonly obliged by mercy to kill vary as fads and fashions change from year to year. "There must have been a movie with chihuahuas in it a couple years back because half of these little guys are chihuahuas," said veterinary anesthesiologist Leonard Noonan, strapping a gas mask to the muzzle of his 11th small, round- headed dog of the day.

While animal shelter employees said they were relieved that dog-euthanasia season is over, many reported they were already preparing for the massive influx of Easter rabbits that will signal the transition from spring to summer.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

We, the family, shout our anger

From one of the great men of our world, Gareth Patterson:

Golden Lost Souls

We the lions of the past,
Today's ghosts,
Roamed endless plain and wide mountain range
Before man became man, before
Man stood upright, peering with curious eyes--
Fuelled by a mind that in time destroyed much. Man
Today, it seems destined, will destroy that
Very same one with curious eyes and mind
Who rose upright from the plains.

Us, ghosts today, the lions of the past
Lived throughout much of this ancient continent, Africa
And beyond.
From harsh mountain range north at night caressed by winds
From where the blue meets the blue,
The forests' dark depths
And eastern plains dotted with our abundant prey,
Decorating the land like a moving mosaic of flowers.

We, the children of the lions of olden times
On these same eastern plains
Were born within grassy gulleys
And within bushy banks of streams.
Secret nursery places chosen with care
By our mothers.

Life in the beginning for us children of the lions
Was an unclear place of shapes.
Some dark, some light, as we peered
With barely opened eyes.
Our golden mother's tongue, again and again
Would clean our spotted backs
And we,
The children of the lions, would
Clamber about on unsteady legs.
Our golden mother would protect us as best she could--
But some of us died,
Killed by leopard, hyaena or by fierce other golden fathers,
Having chased away our own.

We would grow, taste meat for the first time
And tumble, tumble, tumble
Upon grassy endless plains.
Our childhood is long, a learning time,
Learning from our golden mothers, aunts and benign golden
Always togetherness in our golden lion families,
Making us lions.

We would, as children of lions, learn
to hunt with the family.
In time be the one who seized those
Of stripes, those with horns, those we must kill
To in turn enable us to live.
Our urge to kill is not fuelled by a malevolence, or hate
But by a spirit to live, a spirit of life.

Feast, then days of fast,
The pendulum constantly alternating
With the rhythm of the seasons
and migrations.
We, with seasons passing, we the children
of the lion
Feel the change within us, no longer children,
Then copulate for days--then stop.
One day we would enter that grassy gully
Or that bushy bank by the stream
In which we too had been born,
To give birth to children of the lion of our own.
We would do as our golden mother did,
Caring, protecting,
Raising beloved children of the lion under
An African sun and staring moon.

With these children grown, with now
Our own mothers, old golden mothers,
Again we would give birth, to care, to teach and hunt
With more beloved children of the lion,
We too became old golden mothers.

In that time the children of the lions
are the ones we are dependent upon,
Dependent upon their hunts,
Their care.
We, with teeth now worn, weary eyes, loose bellies
and creaking backs,
Walk within the family with new golden fathers,
New tumbling children of the lions on endless plains.

Like a great setting golden sun
We too reached our own farthest horizon
Life slips away
Leaving golden forms to be consumed,
To give life to others of the African plain,
and those of the sky blue--and exchange of life.
We, the old golden ones, would leave behind
Our living, tumbling, hunting, caring, copulating,
Fighting, feasting legacy.
We would be content golden ghosts of endless plains
Remembered by our ancestors in heaven.

Today the pads of our feet no longer walk
Forever endless plains, mountain range wide.
We live in pockets of land, no longer free spirits.
Like many of the old wilds, we now live in twilight times.
We are born in the twilight of the life of lions--
Our life is much altered.

Some of we children of the lion
Die before we are born into that twilight.
A bullet may crash into golden mother's head,
Then another into where we lie within her--unborn.
Men then appear, gloat and stand above golden mother's
Us, within her, dying unborn,
And with sweaty faces, the men smile.

We die as wire traps encircle our necks.
The wire tightens, we fight.
The wire eats into our golden fur
Then into red flesh, choking us.
The light turns to red, blood red,
Then before our eyes there is only

Man will again appear as our
Spirits watch from secret shadows,
Us watching our dead, crumpled, gold
Man then strips our gold from our bodies
And then we are left,
Our spirits watching the grotesque red
Forms, us.
The bloated eyes, protruding, but unseeing. Us.

Children of the lion tumble on restricted plains
When golden mother falls dead after the crash,
Another bullet, another death.
Children of the lion run terrified to nowhere,
Then wait for their mother's return
Only she never returns.

The children of the lion no longer tumble but lie
Now less their golden mothers,
And wait and wait till we, the bone jutting, tawny
Children of the lion
Here, there, almost everywhere
Where lions can still walk upon pockets of plain,
Forest depths, mountain range.

We lions die living, die eating.
We kill a cow, the cow kills us.
Its flesh will be anointed by man with poison.
We feast, our stomachs writhe like snakes in pits of coals.
We vomit, we defecate, retching, shitting,
Then die with our excrement around us, on us.
Others come to eat--the chain of life
needs to continue.
The links are eroded by the poison.

The jackal moves away from the circles of excrement
Around us,
Vomits and shits.
The vulture rises into the sky to feel the thermals,
Then sinks, madly flapping, flapping in its madness
Before hitting the ground.
It shits, vomits
and dies.

The hyeana by night lopes forward,
Biting and swallowing what he finds,
Then slinks away to rest.
The raging thirst begins, then the raging madness
Of pain.
He dies alone on the plain.

Children of the lion are today in
Some places bred by man,
And man delionises the children, humiliates
The children to make them perform feats in
Front of crowds and crowds of watching,
Laughing, squealing, shouting people.

After the tricks, the children are prodded
into small cages to await the next time.
What misery, what despair as the children of the
Lion stare with unblinking amber eyes
Out into a changed world,
Head resting on paw, cramped within a cage.
Now sad, a sad, sad facsimile of his proud ancesters
of endless plains, forest depths, mountain range.

Man has taken our land.
He has destroyed what we are dependent upon--
The other old ones, the denizens of a shrinking,
Ancient world,
Those of stripes, those with horns, those we must kill
To enable ourselves to live.

Man will kill us with mad malevolence
Lusting particularly to kill the golden fathers
with their fine heads.
We, the family, shout our anger
After man shoots the golden father dead.
As droplets of his rich blood drip onto sand, leaf or stone,
We flee.
Without our golden father, the security he gave,
We flee.