Recently I have been watching the PBS series, “Operation Wild.” The program features major surgeries done on wild animals. A chimp had a corneal replacement surgery, an elephant had a horribly infected and disfigured tusk removed, A giraffe had a trap wire around a hoof removed and a tailless dolphin was fitted with a high tech artificial tail.
There is a companion program called, “My Wild Affair.” It tells stories about people that have adopted wild animals.One such adoption was an abandoned baby rhinoceros, A family raised the very young animal as a member of the family. The ultimate goal of the family was to enable the animal to successfully go back to the wild. I am incredibly moved by the TV programs.
My personal history includes being deeply influenced by The Bible. Because of that I immediately connected these TV programs with the creation stories in Genesis.
In the stories just before Human beings are created God says “Let us make man in our image.” Why does God say “in OUR image.” God is speaking to someone. Who is that person?
The ancient Jewish rabbis say that God is speaking to the animals.
The animals were created before humans were created. That part of the story gives the relationship between animals and mankind a very close relationship. Men and animals have the same Father. In a way, that makes the bear my step brother.
I am no expert on the First Nation peoples of North America but I have been told when the native american kllled a buffalo so they could eat, had a ceremony in which they thanked the buffalo for letting them have meat to eat so they could survive. That is opposed to the white man killing millions of buffaloes just for the fun of the hunt.
I think that modern men need to learn what many tribal people understood culturally. Animals have a sacred side to them.If it is necessary to kill an animal you must use every part of the animals body.We and the animals share the bounty’s of earth.It is morally wrong to deny animals the environment they need to survive.They have an equal right to the land and so do we.
Later in the creation stories, humankind are told to name the animals. I relate that to the responsibility my wife and I had when we named our children. In naming them we accepted the responsiblity to care for them. Naming them gave us no right to abuse them.
The naming of the animals in the creation stories is meant to tell us we are lovingly responsible for their well being. That is why those TV programs so moved me. The care of wild animals on these programs speaks to what I see coming into being during this generation. Maybe the best way to help end the poaching of elephants is for the developed world to demonstrate their love of the animals. At the same time, to the extent that poachers poach to put food on the table we can do all we can to make sure the poachers family is reliably fed.