Pet Shop Escape!

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Mina lived a few doors down from the pet shop. Every day she heard the neighbors complain about the bad smell and terrible cries of the unhappy animals, but no one was brave enough to complain about the terrifying owner…Once the animals were all together, Mina opened the door and they ran in a great stampede of fur and feathers across the rumbling bridge.

The Pet Shop Revolution by Ana Juan

The Real Winnie The Pooh

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Like most people, I grew up watching cartoons and reading stories about Winnie The Pooh. Pooh bear is still very much a part of the Disney landscape and, therefore, popular culture.

What I did not know, was that Winnie was an actual bear who served time with the Canadian military (yes, she was actually a part of the military!) during WWI. Harry Colebourn, a military veterinarian (they were still using horses in combat during WWI) rescued the bear at a Canadian train station and named her Winnie, which is short for Winnipeg. Winnie tagged along with Harry all the way to Europe, until the war made it impossible to properly care for the bear and forced him to find a better home – at the London Zoo.

Winnie remained at the zoo for the remainder of her life, which is how she met the real-life Christopher Robin, who was the son of Alan Alexander Milne, the author of the original Winnie The Pooh stories.

As an adult, I read this story thinking…um…really?…Wow! All of these years of seeing Pooh Bear in television, movies and storybooks and I had absolutely no idea! It’s amazing what you can learn when you visit the local library. 🙂

Quote:

“In 1919, just before Harry returned to Winnipeg, he made another hard decision. He decided that Winnie would stay at the London Zoo permanently. Harry was sad, but he knew Winnie would be happiest in the home she knew best.”

Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who inspired Winnie-The-Pooh, written by Sally M Walker and Illustrated by Jonathan D Voss

Laika

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“She had been rescued from the broken spaceship and taken far away from the lonely life she had known by a loving family that she had always dreamed of finding.”

Laika Astronaut Dog by Owen Davey

Author’s Note:

On November 3, 1957, Laika became the first animal to orbit Earth when she was launched into space in the Sputnik 2 rocket.

A few hours later, Laika‘s spacecraft malfunctioned. Though many think she perished, this story, with its happy ending for the brave little dog, is the one I choose to believe.

Wanting to Belong

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“He had belonged to someone once and she had belonged to him…Someone who knew his name. Now everyone called him Get out of here! But the scrawny cat knew his name was not Get out of here!”

“The woman took the scrawny cat inside her house.”

“Skipper isn’t scrawny anymore. He is a real sailor cat now. But best of all, Skipper belongs to Emma and Emma belongs to Skipper.”

Scrawny Cat by Alison Friend

Please Come Inside

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“Won’t you please come inside and get warm? Dragon asked. But the fat cat did not come inside. The fact cat just sat in the snow and said, “Meow!” …Dragon went outside and scooped away at the snow. He scooped and scooped until he found the cat. “You are coming with me,” said Dragon. And he took the cold cat inside.”

Dragon Tales by Dav Pilkey

In the spirit of cold weather animal rescue, here are a few more links:

 

Max Comes Home

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“Max!” they shouted with joy.
“Are you staying with us all winter?”
“Yes,” said Max. “Me and My Flock!”
Everyone looked at Irene, hoping she would say something. But all she could say was “Welcome Home!”

Duck at the Door by Jackie Urbanovic

Some information about wild birds and winter:

If Big could only see…

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“If Big could only see how great it is inside my den. Here I can swing into the air…running fast and leaping long! But Big’s not there…I’m all alone and that’s no fun. So… Whatever Big can…and whatever I can…We can…Together!”

If Big can… I can by Beth Shoshan and Petra Brown

The main character in this book is a Koala, so here is a little more information about Koalas:

So much nicer when it’s two

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Roly Poly, very small
not so frightened after all.
Sometimes new things can be fun
when you’re not the only one.

Roly Poly, very small,
feeling better, feeling tall.
So much to see, so much to do…
So much nicer when it’s two!

Roly Poly Pangolin, by Anna Dewdney

In the spirit of friendship, here are a few links:

In honor of Pangolins, here are a few more:

 

The Right To Live As Nature Designed

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(Note: I have scheduled this commentary for Wednesday because the research described was primarily focused on Linguistics with some commentary about the subtle cruelty of pun-based name. Otherwise, it is primarily science, conservation and outdoors focused.)

When I was a teenager, working in the boundary waters or northern Minnesota (many years ago), I had the privilege of working alongside a wilderness guide. He was a man who knew true respect for the wild, the water, and the unique area in which he worked. He was a hunter and, as such, had some interesting arguments with a fellow student – a sometimes vegetarian and extremely youthful animal rights activist. One of the arguments he made has stuck with me over many years (paraphrased from memory): “…you eat that animal that was raised on a farm. It spent its whole life locked in a cage or trapped behind a fence. this deer [venison stew he’d brought to share] lived in the wild. It got the chance to be a deer. Now you tell me which is worse, the animal that dies on the farm, or the animal that lived in the wild?”

At the time I thought he’d made sense in a very important way. It wasn’t about whether or not humans lived up to their predatory nature by eating the flesh of other animals. It was only partially an issue of quantity – do we eat entirely too much meat? What was at the core of the issue of animal rights was the quality of life as dictated by the animal’s ability to live within its own birthright, as an animal. Being hunted is part of the deer’s life experience, just as hunting is part of the life experience of a wolf, cougar or bear. By trapping animals in cages and pens, we remove their ability to live and die, according to their own nature.

This long-ago argument kept resurfacing in my memory as I read this article. The author provides some heartbreaking descriptions of cruelty toward animals at the hands of researchers. It was hard to pull out quotes because my heart kept going out to the animals described in the story. I wanted to heal their pain and set them free to experience the life, pleasure, hardship, and pain that an animal deserves to experience – the life they were meant to live as the creature they were made to be.

However, the core of that cruelty seemed to be based on the human perceptions, and individual arrogance, about the nature of both animals and humans. The following quotes (hopefully) illustrate that lack of respect for the animals subjected to research and lack of understanding of both human and animal nature.

QUOTES:

Speculation on the origin of human language was long discouraged among linguists; inquiry into the subject was formally banned by the Société de Linguistique de Paris in 1866, and the taboo thereby established persisted for nearly a century.

“What makes us human?” The way we phrase the question—which presupposes that the answer must be a definite thing we possess—tends to make language the most satisfactory answer.

There is something glib and thoughtless about bestowing on another conscious being a pun for a name. Glibness and thoughtlessness, as one sees in the documentary, are just a couple of Terrace’s winning traits, and Nim Chimpsky’s name was only the first indignity in a life full of indignity and suffering, which is the main subject of Marsh’s film.

“We enjoy mocking that sliver of biological difference between us and chimpanzees. Yet anyone who has ever looked with curiosity and respect into the face of a chimpanzee has seen a presence there. If we abandon the notion that language is necessarily the bedfellow of consciousness, we get a better understanding of ourselves, while our relationship to the other beings we share this planet with becomes more enlightened, more humble, and more humane.

The Last Distinction,” by Benjamin Hale – An entry in The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2013, Edited by Siddhartha Mukherjee