A while back, "60 Minutes" did a story titled "Poachers Leaving Elephant Orphans," a simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking profile of an elephant orphanage in Kenya. You can read the transcript of the story, but it's a poor substitute for the touching images in the video.
When I first watched the story in December 2008, there was an exchange between Bob Simon (the reporter) and Dame Daphne Sheldrick (the orphanage's owner) that made me think of The Critter Connection's owner, Cindy Kuester.
"Well, you don't have much option, do you? There's another one to look after, and then another one coming, and, you know, you just have to turn the page," Daphne replied.
"And you get attached after one..." Simon commented.
"But I'm not very good at it," she admitted.
"And you're not going to get any better, are you?" Simon asked.
"No, not after 50 years," Daphne replied.
As I've watched Cindy over the last months, dealing with heartbreaking abandonment cases and the heart-shattering losses of some of our oldest sanctuary pigs, I think repeatedly of Sheldrick's words. Cindy's and Sheldrick's charges are thousands of pounds apart in size, but have all suffered disrespect, neglect, and cruelty. It never stops boggling my mind that there are so many humans who don't understand that animals are our co-habitants on this planet, and deserve the same respect and regard that we demand for ourselves.
Thousands of pounds apart, elephants and guinea pigs have something else in common.
Asked what the most extraordinary thing is she has learned about elephants, she told Simon, "Their tremendous capacity for caring is, I think, perhaps the most amazing thing about them, even at a very, very young age. Their sort of forgiveness, unselfishness. So you know, I often say as I think I've said before, they have all the best attributes of us humans and not very many of the bad."
May 6 through 12 marks not only National Pet Week, but also Be Kind to Animals Week. Please help spread the message of kindness, compassion, responsibility, and stewardship. Drop some supplies off at a rescue or shelter, donate money to an animal organization, and talk on your own blog, MySpace page, or FaceBook profile about the animal causes closest to your heart.
Maybe...just maybe...we can start making some changes on this planet we call home.