Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Life and Death...then choose life

As you may know I've been watching a couple of 'wildlife' cameras: One red-tailed hawk in Portland, and two eagle cameras. Live animal cams are much more interesting than watching 'Jersey Shore' or any other so called reality TV. You can't get more real than unscripted wildlife!

This fact hit several thousand people on Tuesday, April 26 when the female pair of bald eagles raising three chicks in Norfolk, Virginia's Botanical Garden was struck and killed by a plane getting ready to land at the airport. News coverage continues daily after the mother eagle was identified by wildlife staff experts at the park.

Yesterday afternoon over 11,000 viewers expressed their shock and grief at the loss of this eagle who raised 18 chicks, all surviving their first flight from the nest. The couple had 9 years together, raising a family each year before the watchful eye of devoted followers including many children in classrooms.

I can't find this quote, but I remember hearing it several times throughout my life, pertaining to the violent nature of wildlife. If we think that humans are brutal to their own kind, then just watch some of the stuff that happens in the wilderness.

And yet, as I navigate my way to the news website that hosts the camera, there are links to news reports about human tragedy:

~ Afghan officer opens fire, kills 9 Americans

~ Storms kill 11 in the south

~ Terror reigns in Syrian City

~ Nun stuck in elevator for 4 days

~ 190 killed by violent tornados in the south

Well, you get the picture. Death and destruction are happening all around us. And while a part of me mourns the loss of this magnificent animal the fact that people are suffering is not lost on me.

Humans connect with the actions and lives of animals. Perhaps some of the viewers wish their parents had cared for them as faithfully as the eagle couple cared for their young.

On the eagle cam blog people posted questions and comments like: "When do you think the father eagle will stop grieving." To which the wildlife expert replied "Eagles don't feel emotions in the same way that humans do."

Animal lovers tend to anthropomorphism when describing animal emotions. Although I am guilty of this as well, I have to chuckle when I read on the eagle cam blog about people feeling bad for the male eagle as he no longer has a mate nor his babies. The staff at the Norfolk Botanical Garden decided to remove the chicks to a wildlife rehabilitation center as they feared the male wouldn't be able to provide enough food for his three growing eaglets. While the decision to remove them is controversial, I believe that the decision for life was made.

In the cycle of life and death comes the reality that life is fragile. Accidents happen cutting life short, forever changing the lives of the people involved.

The eaglets, while not bound for certain death if left in the nest, now face a different future void of the kind of parenting that will give them the tools they need to make it in the wild. It's got to be complicated. But again, with the 'benefit' of technology we humans are given a birds eye view to the circle of life in the wild. The daily activities can't be scripted. The horrors of life played out before an audience on a live camera.

The same can be said for humanity. The random brutality of a tornado that took the lives of over 190 people last night give me pause. Human lives mingled with animal lives in that destructive force of nature.

With my passion for animals I have to work to keep humanity in the forefront of my concern. For I know that the brutality that befalls the animals that God created pales in comparison to the brutality that is inflicted upon those made in the image of God.

“Nature is not human hearted.” says Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu.

"Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man." Stewart Udall

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