The animals here. There are a whole-big-lot of them on this planet. Many people don’t give them the credit they deserve, their equality as sentient life forms. And still many more people take it a bit too far. But those animals certainly are here, and they know it. They know a lot.
I like them. All of them. I saw the film clip of the scientists swimming with the Great White in Hawaii. I was awed, amazed, intrigued. Just think about the endless depths of our oceans, and all the things we will never know.
I am in wonder and in awe of the animals of the kingdom.
I think of this, because today is the birthday of Friederike Victoria “Joy” Gessner Adamson. Most would know her as Joy Adamson. She is the woman who wrote Born Free, the book about the great life of the Lion Elsa. I knew a girl in college named Elsa. She was a basketball player at Butler University. She looked a little bit like a lion, in the face. Not in a bad way. Just a bit intimidating. Especially on steak night at the dorm cafeteria.
Anyway. Joy Adamson. She was born on January 20, 1910. She is mostly known for her work with African Lions, mostly from the Kenya area, to be precise. Joy was married three times in a span of 10 years. It was with her 3rd husband, that she met Elsa in Kenya.
It came about like this. Her 3rd husband, George Adamson, was a game warden there. One day, it appeared that a lioness was charging. So he pulled out his gun and shot her. In actuality, it was protecting her newly born cubs. Doesn’t that seem how it always goes? Motherhood. It’ll kill ya’.
Anyway, there they were, three baby, cute-as-can-be-baby, cubs. So they took them in. Of course, who can care for three lions at a time? They took two of the cubs to a reserve, and they kept the third. Named her Elsa.
They became fast friends. But Joy decided that Elsa needed to go back to the wild. So, she began teaching her how to be wild again. Hunting and such. I am not sure of the actual process, as this sounds impossibly remarkable. But that is what she did. Maybe they ate raw meat together. I don’t know. But. Elsa successfully went back to the wild (the first lion ever to do so), and she had cubs of her own in the wild (again, another first).
If there were Lion Academy Awards, or Pulitzers, or something, I would nominate good Elsa.
As for Joy, she wrote the book “Born Free” and made some dollars there. But she stayed in Africa and hung out with lions, and mostly cheetahs. I am always reminded of Crunchy Cheetos when I hear cheetahs, and think of orange fingers, my college dormitory days, and my friend Elsa, who, ironically, loved Cheetos.
Back to Joy. When she was just a few day shy of turning 70 years old, in 1980, she was murdered. It was there in Kenya. One of her employees, Paul Nakware Ekai, who was 18 years old, shot her. Three times. In the chest. Now, he claims this was self-defense, some 35 years after the incident occurred.
Joy’s husband, the game warden guy, George. He was murdered too. Nine years later, in 1989. There were some poachers who were attacking a tourist there in Kenya. George fended them off, saved the tourist, but he was killed in the altercation.
Obviously, both of those people had a great love of animals. They recognized their place here on earth, and worked their lives around the love of big cats. But, ultimately, it cost them their lives.
I too love animals, and think their worth is incredible.
But there is a big difference between them, and me.
I got a little dog.
“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”―James Herriot
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
“Clearly, animals know more than we think, and think a great deal more than we know.” ― Irene M. Pepperberg