Through Animals' Eyes: True Stories from a Wildlife Sanctuary

Through Animals' Eyes: True Stories from a Wildlife Sanctuary

by Lynn Marie Marie Cuny

Hardcover

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781574410624
Publisher: University of North Texas Press
Publication date: 03/01/1999
Pages: 149
Product dimensions: 6.35(w) x 9.36(h) x 0.87(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


A Day in
the Duck
Family's Life


After more than seventeen years of rescuing wild animals from every imaginable fate, I always have to remember what would have become of them had we not been there for them. Without a doubt, most of them would have perished. The question is: are we simply tampering with Mother Nature every time we save a life? Considering the alternative these animals face, I believe it is vitally important for us to rescue every wild animal we can. Faced with the continuing onslaught of relentless human encroachment—bulldozers, development, traffic, poisons, traps—wild animals don't have an easy life. In most cases, we're fortunate enough to be able to intervene in time to give the injured or sick animal a second chance at life.

    Every so often, though, I find myself in the position of being a silent observer. I feel fortunate to have been given the gift of watching wild animals in their habitat as they prove their unlimited depth of feeling and innate ability to care for one another.

    Nature may not always appear kind by our standards. Still, I believe that, if we watch with a non-judgmental eye, we will witness a tenderness and wisdom in all of the life that surrounds us.

    Several years ago in early spring, my mother, sister, nephew and I were enjoying a sunny afternoon in Landa Park in New Braunfels. The spring-fed creeks and rivers running through the park are the perfect habitat for turtles, crayfish, frogs, minnows and several families of ducks. The animals have spent generations there in the clear, cold water, following Nature's plan of raising their young, finding food, living and dying.

    On this bright afternoon, we watched a family of mallards swimming along in the shallow water. There were about twelve ducklings and Mom and Dad Duck. The babies were a few weeks old and just beginning to dive under the water with their parents. The entire family seemed happy to spend its days quacking, swimming and playing about in the water, splashing in the shallows and chasing dragonflies that came too close to the water's surface.

    With Mom in the lead, the ducklings followed closely. Dad Duck kept a keen eye on his brood as he swam along behind. Suddenly, one of the ducklings encountered trouble. He seemed to be caught on something just below the water's surface. He kept trying to swim, but apparently could not free himself. The entire family swam over to see what was wrong. My nephew waded into the water, scattering the ducks in his attempt to help the struggling youngster. As he tried to free the duckling by gently pulling, we discovered who had snagged him. A large snapping turtle was a resident of the same river, and he was in need of a meal. My nephew quickly tried to free the duckling from the turtle's grasp, but there was no way the turtle was going to let go of his dinner.

    It wasn't a pleasant sight, watching one carnivorous animal going about his task of staying alive, feeding on another animal who suddenly finds his life ending. But once again, I witnessed just how animals relate to and care for each other. As the young duckling struggled in the water, the father swam around and around the frantic mother as she protected her other eleven ducklings. He quacked deep and commanding calls to each of them. Finally the mother responded and assisted him in gathering all the remaining young into one place at the water's edge. For several seconds, both parents floated side by side, deciding what to do. Then, in a very deliberate action, the mother duck, with her family of ducklings near her, swam downriver away from the tragic scene.

    The father duck, however, took a very different course of action. He swam directly back to the dying baby duck and stayed there, not leaving his side for one moment. Though he couldn't change the course of Nature, he also could not leave his youngster there to die alone. That loving father comforted his baby and watched him die. Even then he stayed to mourn his loss, floating silently in the water, knowing his duckling was gone.

    It wasn't until half an hour later that we watched as the father duck swam slowly downriver to reunite with his family. The mother had kept all of their other youngsters together, waiting for his return. The saddened parents floated side by side for a time, quacking in unison in quiet, low tones. The surviving ducklings swam around them, but soon began to splash and play. As the parents watched, they seemed relieved that the ordeal was behind them and their family was safe again. Now it was time to move on, caring for the dependent little ducks, helping them grow and eventually sending them off to live their own lives.

    Through the ages, people have worked very hard to create an image of indifference when describing the non-human animal kingdom. It has been convenient to believe that non-human animals lack so-called human traits, such as devotion to family members, compassion for one another, the capability to mourn the passing of offspring and mates. I have never believed that the human animal is the only species to possess these characteristics. I think it is true that we are all different. Humans from apes, apes from elephants, elephants from ants. But "different" does not translate into "less than." To me, different means exactly that: not the same. We human animals are as different from one another as non-human animals are from each other.

    These differences should not make us turn our backs on the fact that all living beings feel and care and deserve respect, love and compassion. I trust that, in the generations to come, people will find that place in their hearts that has been asleep for so long ... the place that allows us all to care for one another.

Table of Contents

Prefacevii
The History of Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitationix
1 * A Day in the Duck Family's Life1
2 * An Emu Looking for a Friend6
3 * The White Pelican12
4 * The Buck and the Doe17
5 * The Three-legged Coyote22
6 * The Great Egret's Flight27
7 * The Fox Couple31
8 * The Magnificent Seven36
9 * The Fox and Flora, the Guardian Hen41
10 * Rescued from the Dark46
11 * The Vulture's Flight51
12 * Love at First Sight56
13 * Hope Comes to Syra59
14 * The Natural Healer63
15 * The Scissortail Flycatcher68
16 * Snapshots from the Sanctuary72
17 * The Baby Field Mouse84
18 *The Female Bobcat87
19 * The Great Horned Owl92
20 * The Macaque Sisters96
21 * The Fawn and the Doe100
22 * Bertha, Huey and the Bachelor Duck105
23 * The Crippled Raccoon110
24 * The Two Bobcats114
25 * Miles and Priscilla119
26 * The Squirrel Determined to be a Mama122
27 * The Two Herons127
28 * The Mocker Takes a Sparrow130
29 * Hansel and Gretel135
30 * His Brother's Keeper140
31 * The Dove Family and the Dog146

What People are Saying About This

Appraisal

This book deserves a spot on every library shelf along with such nonfiction animal story classis as Adamson's Born Free, North's Rascal, and the work of Jane Goodall ... Cuny's achievement is in her ability to present the animal's experiences in a factual, sympathetic, but unsentimental tone.
—(Appraisal: Science Books for Young People)

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