Saturday, April 28, 2012


Babe and her buddy Omar, the camel

huge clump of bananas
grasped in gray trunk,
two chomps, gone.

watermelon held out,
trunk sniffs,
then wraps the fruit:
a pop!
juice dripping,
eyes rolling back in head,
and, unmistakably, a smile
of deepest pleasure.

gentle giant,
survivor of so much human cruelty,
yet you loved the ones
who gentled your final years.

May we learn from you
your gifts of generosity,
compassion and 

Kids, I am reading the most wonderful book for animal-lovers: The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them,  by Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States.  Shay, stop reading.

Every page tells a story of animals who have suffered the most horrible of existences at the hands of humans, who are fortunate enough to be rescued and given sanctuary at Black Beauty Ranch in Texas. 

Babe's entire family was killed when she was a baby, when her herd was "culled" in a national park by order of the South African government. You can imagine  the trauma and terror among these intelligent creatures, who have strong emotional bonds to each other. Babe was "spared", but put in shackles and sent by boat to a circus in the States. Her state of mind during transport can only be imagined. She suffered leg damage, likely from the shackles, and the subsequent performances she gave, until she grew too lame to continue. Fortunately, activists stepped in to move her to the Texas sanctuary and she has lived the intervening years in kindness and contentment, with her special friend, Omar, the Camel.

Update: I just checked online and read that Omar died a few years ago, and that Babe was being readied to be moved to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, where she will live with other elephants. I hope that all goes well.

I can hardly bear to read these stories. The author delves into factory "farming", medical research labs, and the most horrendous abuses. How humans can treat other beings, both animal and human, the way they do is beyond me.  I tell myself if the animals can endure the suffering, I can bear witness. I also remind myself of all the people who try to bring both action and redemption to these horror stories, by counteracting darkness with light. That's the one good thing I take away from these stories. But millions of animals never find  deliverance from their lives of pain. Those are the stories that haunt me.


  1. Sherry, the story of Babe's family is heartbreaking; but I am glad that she was rescued and had some good years in a safe environment with her camel friend.

  2. I couldn't read anything like that, Sherry. I would cry and cry. thank you for bearing witness, and for your lovely poem about Babe and the fruit. I enjoyed the poem very much, and the watermelon made me smile.

  3. i walked with some elephants from the train to the circus and a few days later went with them from the circus back to the train. i was an unpaid intern at peta in virginia in 07. it was hysterical becuz we were supposed to be video taping the elephants in order to document any mistreatment if it were to occur. but the guy in charge forgot to charge the batteries so we just held the cameras up and pretended they were on.

  4. This is so sad, and my heart goes out to these animals who need our care and love.

  5. Heartbreaking. And we call THEM animals.


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