Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Honor the memory of an exceptional animal lover

Elizabeth Taylor was a natural beauty

and her eyes reflected the light in her heart

Elizabeth Taylor died one week ago today but her legend will live on. Her loveliness radiated kindness and deep empathy. In addition to her lifelong love of animals, she understood and reached out to those who were in pain or despair. Perhaps Kahlil Gibran said it best when he wrote, "Beauty is a light in the heart."

When she died last Wednesday of congestive heart failure Elizabeth was surrounded by her four children at Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she had been hospitalized for about six weeks.

She was buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in a service that began with poetry readings by actor Colin Farrell and Taylor's family members. The casket was draped in gardenias, violets, and lilies of the valley before its interment in the cemetery's Great Mausoleum beneath a marble sculpture of an angel inspired by the work of Italian artist Michelangelo.

Honor the memory of this exceptional animal lover by donating to your local animal shelter, or better yet, adopt a homeless cat, dog, rabbit or other companion animal.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Elizabeth loved animals

Elizabeth Taylor loved cats

and dogs, here with Lassie in Lassie Come Home

We animal lovers are often misunderstood. Those who don't feel as we do believe we have difficulty forming deep connections with people. Not at all. In fact, I think we love more profoundly than most. Elizabeth Taylor demonstrated this ability to love both animals and people deeply, and despite numerous failed marriages kept on loving until her death on March 23rd. I don't think it was just a coincidence that she died the day after the 53rd anniversary of Mike Todd's death. Todd, one of the great loves of her life, died in a plane crash on March 22, 1958.

My own love of animals began in early childhood. I just always felt connected, comfortable and at ease around them and I always will.

As a humanitarian and an animal lover, Elizabeth Taylor brought both worlds together and set an example for many. When she said, “I sometimes think I prefer animals to people,” she made it all right for the rest of us who feel the same.

More on Elizabeth Taylor's love for animals in the next post.

Monday, March 21, 2011

I watch the Fox Network

A red fox (Vulpes, vulpes) surveys
his territory on the first day of Spring

It's Season Two on the Fox Network ― I am privileged to be able to watch a pair of red foxes again this year. I first glimpsed them in early January. They are so intelligent and magnificent to look upon. The vixen has given birth by now and the male is busy hunting to feed himself and his mate while she cares for their kits.

Red foxes mate from January through March. The female will make one or more dens right after mating. The extra dens are used if the original den is disturbed. A little less than two months after mating, the female gives birth to a litter of between one and ten kits. Last year there were six kits and happily, they all thrived.

This photo was taken at some distance but you can see the characteristic long, bushy tail tipped in white, pointed black ears and black legs and feet.

Some mornings, around 5am, the cats will leap from the bed and rush to a large picture window downstairs. They know the fox is up and about. I think they enjoy watching the Fox Network as much as I do.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Close encounter with the moon

The night walked down the sky with the moon in her hand.
~Frederic Lawrence Knowles

Watching last night's "Supermoon" rise in the sky, I have to agree with NASA that "the visual illusion is most prominent at sunset, when low-hanging full moons tend to look larger anyway."

Scientists called this a super perigee moon. Perigee is the point where the moon makes its closest pass to Earth during its oval-shaped orbit. When it happens during a full moon, the moon seems up to 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than normal, according to NASA.

The last full moon so big and close to Earth occurred in March of 1993. The full moon of March 19 occurred less than one hour away from perigee -- a near-perfect coincidence that happens only (every) 18 years or so.

The March full moon is also known as the Crow Moon. The moon won’t come this close again until November 14, 2016.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Tsunami killed thousands of seabirds at Midway

Laysan albatross chick that washed ashore is seen at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge near the Hawaiian Islands.
(AP Photo/US Fish and Wildlife Service, Pete Leary)

In this Febuary 2011 photo provided by the US Geological Survey, a Laysan albatross, roughly 60-years-old, named Wisdom is seen with a chick at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge near Hawaii.

The fate of animals is always an under-reported story in any disaster, especially when the situation is as terrible and catastrophic as it is in Japan.

The suffering of all affected ― the people, their companion animals, wildlife in the country and in the path of the tsunami ― is immense. Hundreds of thousands of people are homeless with the magnitude of this natural disaster still to be fully comprehended. Now, there is the fear of nuclear reactor core meltdown, which some very brave workers are sacrificing their lives to prevent. One thing is certain, Japan will need our help for many years to come.

HONOLULU – Thousands of seabirds were killed when the tsunami generated by last week's massive earthquake off Japan flooded Midway, a remote atoll northwest of the main Hawaiian islands, a federal wildlife official said Tuesday.

At least 1,000 adult and adolescent Laysan albatross were killed, along with thousands of chicks. Many drowned or were buried under debris as waves reaching 5 feet high rolled over the low-lying atoll about four hours after the magnitude-9.0 earthquake struck. Click here to read more.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Prayers for Japan

Some of the many apocalyptic images from Japan
Photographs by Reuters, AFP/Getty Images

Three days after a devastating earthquake unleashed a tsunami in which at least 10,000 people are feared dead, Japan faces a deepening nuclear crisis and the prospect of another very powerful quake.

Relief organizations and governments around the world are responding to help people, and now several groups are stepping in to assist the thousands of animals that have been impacted as well, but unfortunately, animals have to wait longer for help to arrive.

Since animals (wildlife, birds, farm animals) have no one to speak for them, I find their plight equally compelling. There are many organizations and agencies whose mission is to help animals in disaster areas. If you'd like to help, two that I recommend supporting are:

World Vets is an international veterinary aid organization that provides “free veterinary aid, resources and support during times of disaster all over the world”. Their non-profit efforts spans 25 countries and 6 continents, and handles both veterinary issues and human health issues caused by animal-related infectious diseases. World Vets is already working to help victims of the earthquake and tsunami, and desperately needs donations.

The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation is a non-profit, FEMA-certified agency that searches for survivors in the wreckage of catastrophic events such as the one is Japan. NDSDF has already deployed six Canine Disaster Search Teams to respond to the current crisis; each task force is made up of approximately 72 members (including both humans and Urban Search and Rescue dogs) and some 75 tons of rescue equipment.

Say a prayer for the people and animals of Japan. Be grateful for all that you have and for the safety of those you love.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

March Skies

The natural world is stirring back to life and those of us who are awake and aware feel it. The light is changing. The sky has that gusty March wind look as the clouds travel fast along a wide swathe of blue, and even the trees, bare as they may be, seem to be vibrating with life. The natural urge to begin again never ceases to astonish me.

Canada Geese are back with their mates, staking out nesting grounds. I saw a pair today on an open meadow-like parcel of land, graced with a mature weeping willow tree ― ideal habitat for setting up a nursery.

But in March, the urge to migrate and find a mate can have deadly consequences. Roadkill is always a sorrowful sight and even more so this early in the season. Today I saw two opossums and one yearling groundhog dead in the road. It seems so unfair that they should be struck down after surviving such a brutal winter.

Still, there is solace to be found in the changing beauty of March skies and the fact that we are almost on what I like to call "the other side." Daylight Savings Time begins tonight.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Champion for Tigers Dies

Fateh Singh Rathore (Photo: Getty Images)

The situation is desperate for tigers and environmental groups estimate that the tiger population worldwide has declined to 3,000 today from 100,000 in 1900.

Now, the man who fought for four decades to save these majestic cats from extinction has lost the good fight. Fateh Singh Rathore, known among environmentalists as the Tiger Guru for his understanding of the cat, died of cancer on March 1 at 73 on his farm outside the 116-square-mile tiger preserve that he did so much to create.

Just last month the World Wildlife Fund presented Rathore with a lifetime achievement award. The president of its India chapter, Divyabhanusinh Chavda, said that largely because of Rathore, “Ranthambhore National Park in northwest India, became the place which brought the tiger to the consciousness of people the world over.”

Fateh Singh Rathore was born in a village in Rajasthan in 1938, the eldest of 10 children of Sagat and Inder Singh Rathore. After working as a store clerk and selling coal, Mr. Rathore was offered a job as a park ranger by an uncle who had become deputy minister of forests in Rajasthan. He found his calling after completing training at the
Wildlife Institute of India in 1969.

He also became a photographer, his pictures of tigers appearing in the book “Tigers: The Secret Life” (1990), with text by Valmik Thapar. They show tigers lounging at the gate of the fort, standing on the parapet of a crumbling mosque and striding among the roots of a giant banyan tree.

“Both the author and his photographer-teacher profoundly want the tiger to survive,” John Seidensticker, a curator of mammals at the National Zoological Park, wrote in a
1990 review in The New York Times Book Review. “But the lingering sense running through the book is that its position is desperate.”

Sunday, March 6, 2011


not in another place
but this place,
not for another hour
but this hour.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

File Under "duh"

This satellite image from the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA), shows a winter storm from space as it moves across the the U.S. on February 2, 2011.

Extreme winter weather linked to climate change
By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent
Read the story here.

The mainstream press is reporting what many of us already know. How anyone can still believe that global warming is a sham continues to amaze me.

I am reminded of the opening scenes of the 1978 movie, Superman, in which Jor-el (played by Marlon Brando) is unable to convince the ruling council of Krypton that their world will destroy itself soon.

No one believed him either.