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Life Arts    H4'ed 5/22/14

Friends Forever

Message Suzana Megles
I don't know if you are lucky to have a forever friend, but I think Mr. G,
a goat and Jellybean, a burro are such a lucky pair. I think it's wonderful that
animals too can have friends. And why not? For far too long we have painted them as inferior beings -- lacking in intelligence and feelings. And that is just plain wrong and untrue.
This story comes from Animal Place in California. How lucky these people
are to live and work so closely with farm animals who have often been
neglected or abused. I envy them this privilege to work in animal rescue.
Although we have Happy Trails, an animal rescue in Ravenna, Ohio- I don't
think I will ever realize my dream of working with farm animal rescues. My
day has past, but maybe one day I'll get someone to take me there and we
will spend the day enjoying the animals and their stories of rescue -largely
from abusive or neglectful situations. Maybe, I may even meet a Mr.G and
Both of them were rescued from a hoarding situation. This poor woman had
dozens of dogs on her property as well as three barnyard animals. She could
barely care for herself and of course, the animals would suffer too. But even
in these dire and trying circumstances, a goat and a burro became very close
friends. When finally rescued, they were sadly parted. Mr. G went to Animal Place, and since they were not equipped to care for burros, Jellybean ended up in another sanctuary.
Well, like it or not, Animal Place would soon find itself in a predicament. Mr.G was just inconsolable by the separation from his friend, Jellybean the burro. Mr. G refused to eat and just lay in the corner of his stall - hardly ever even lifting up his head.
The staff hoped they might be able to entice him with some very special foods like molasses, sweet grain, and apples. No, nothing worked. The staff even had to physically move him about to ensure he didn't spend too much time lying down.
The vet was called in but he could not find anything medically wrong with Mr. G, and so then it became obvious to them that Mr. G was in mourning for his friend Jellybean who he felt had disappeared forever.
Animal Place workers decided then that the only way to rally Mr. G was to bring Jellybean to Animal Place. Yes, every animal and its needs is precious to these wonderful caring people, and so they determined that they would have to bring Jellybean to Animal Place.
What a wonderful transformation to Mr. G when he saw Jellybean alight form the transport truck and approach him in the enclosure where he was kept. It didn't take Mr. G long to join his friend and eat with him from the same container.
Mr. G was transformed now and it all had to do with being re-united with his
best friend -- Jellybean. Even though nothing was said about how Jellybean
felt separated from his friend, I imagine that he too was happy to be re-united with Mr. G as well. Now together- hopefully friends forever.
This account made me recall the wonderful friendship of Tarra, the elephant and Bella, a beautiful friendly white dog. Though there were other elephants in the Tennessee sanctuary -Tarra and Bella just seemed to hit it off. They were often seen together roaming the expansive land sanctuary- a comparatively small white dog and a huge elephant. They certainly were an odd couple.
When Bella became ill and was brought to the compound for healing, Tarra stood guard outside its walls -- hoping to catch a glimpse of her friend. Carol Buckley or her partner sensed her need and would carry Bella out so that Tarra could see her loving friend. And when Bella was well, she was so happy to once again join Tarra in their daily jaunts in the grassy fields of the sanctuary.
Then one day the unimaginable happened. Tarra found a bloodied Bella very still in death in some brush on the property. Probably killed by a coyote, the crushed Tarra picked up her lifeless body and brought her to the compound.
I imagine that it probably took Tarra a very long time to get over the death of her best friend Bella. So like us when we lose a cherished family member or friend.
Thus far the accounts have been about animal friends and the bonds they shared with each other. This happening is about a bond between a man and some elephants. The man --Lawrence Anthony had spent his life rescuing wildlife and rehabilitating elephants all over the globe.
Only 62 when he died on March 7, 2012 -an amazing thing happened at his wake. Thirty-one elephants had walked over 12 miles to get to his South African House. Led by two matriarchs, they showed up at his home to say goodbye to their beloved man-friend.
They had walked slowly for days in a solemn one-by-one queue from their habitat to his house. Witnesses who saw this spectacle were obviously in awe. (I still am.) Clearly, this was a manifestation of their supreme intelligence and their special sense which allowed them to recognize the time of their best friend's passing.
The question persists -- how did they know that Anthony had died? Here is proof that God has given them special gifts and that they are not inferior to man.
In this regard, Rabbi Gal Berner leaves us with a very beautiful thought:
"If there were a time, when we can truly sense the wondrous interconnectedness of all beings, it is when we reflect on the elephants of Thula Thula. A man's heart stops, and hundreds of elephants' hearts are grieving. This man's of-so-abundantly loving heart offered healing to these elephants, and now, they came to pay loving homage to their friend."
The elephants stayed 2 day and 2 nights without eating anything. Then one morning they left --making their long journey back. When I think of elephants now, I will probably always recall with amazement this beautiful account of 31 elephants walking 12 miles to "wake" their best human friend.
But I will also think of how shamefully that there are countries where they are being poached and killed for their ivory. And we who buy these ivory trinkets are complicit in this cruelty and travesty. Will we ever learn?
I will also remember of how shamefully we use them in circuses -- making them perform unnatural acts for our pleasure. Thank God, some circuses are finally realizing how wrong it is to exploit animals in this way and have compassionately discontinued the use of not only elephants but other circus animals as well.
I will also think of the many elephants who are kept in zoos where some actually live in "asphalt" jungles though thankfully some cities now provide grassy savannah type surroundings for them. But still some are forced to live in cold wintery quarters --so unnatural to these animals of summer.
Maybe one day we will wake up and let them live their natural lives free and
unfettered in their jungle homes. These sensitive beings deserve that, and for that matter, so do all the living beings who God has created. All deserve to be free from pain and exploitation.

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I have been concerned about animal suffering ever since
I received my first puppy Peaches in 1975. She made me take a good look at the animal kingdom and I was shocked to see how badly we treat so many animals. At 77, I've been a vegan for the (more...)
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