OK, let’s shift our Wayback Machine into reverse and launch from the 17th c. to the present moment, shall we? And onto our favorite subject: critters.
I don’t know what measures you might use to determine the relative civilization of a people, but for me one benchmark is the degree to which they treat animals with compassion. And based on this MSNBC article, Australians score high as a deeply humane and civilized people, and the love I already have for them just went up several notches.
Millions of animals perished (and are perishing) in Australia’s unprecedented wildfires, and human volunteers are trying their best to treat the injured ones that have survived, and those that cannot find sustenance on the newly-scorched landscape. These are the very forests I went birding in just last year. One of our Australian sangha members, dear Christine, sent along this photo called, with typical Australian cheekiness, Koala Aid:
The TLC just melts you, no? The article says that koala’s been named Sam, a girl, who’s apparently made fast buddies with a boy koala named Bob, quickly moving in with him at the shelter.
Update: Here's video.
Look at the lengths folks at Victoria’s Statewide Wildlife Rescue Emergency Service and many others are going to:
“Hundreds of burned, stressed and dehydrated animals — including kangaroos, koalas, lizards and birds — have already arrived at shelters across the scorched region. Rescuers have doled out antibiotics, pain relievers and fluids to the critters in a bid to keep them comfortable, but some of the severely injured were euthanized to spare any more suffering.
“’We've got a wallaby joey at the moment that has crispy fried ears because he stuck his head out of his mum's pouch and lost all his whiskers and cooked up his nose,’ [Wildlife Victoria president Jon] Rowdon said. ‘They're the ones your hearts really go out to.’
“In some of the hardest-hit areas, rescuers used vaporizing tents to help creatures whose lungs were burned by the searing heat and smoke.
“’There will probably be a significant number which probably can only be euthanized to end their suffering,’ Rowdon said. ‘And my heart goes out to the people who are given that task.’“
Vaporizing tents! Such kindness. Please consider throwing a few coins into Wildlife Victoria's basket to help them with their heroic work.
Closer to home, I’m so happy when I catch my kitties in a warm, yin-yang embrace like this (don’t you just love the sinuous line of Moojie’s long leg?).
At least these two are safe, but another brutal bout of weather is almost upon us. A Siberian snowstorm is thundering in tonight which will plunge tomorrow’s daytime highs to only -11F/-24C. The cold’s gonna sit on us for at least a week, with nighttime lows approaching -50F. Recent reports say that heavy snow and extreme cold this winter have already resulted in the deaths of at least 120,000 head of livestock; with this weather system, there are bound to be more. Good for the wolves, that’s about it.
All your prayers for the animals that have perished and are suffering in the extremes of our two hemispheres are really meaningful right now.