City of Winnipeg | Libraries

Weeping for Cecil

Last summer a cry of outrage went up around the world. A lion had been killed by a trophy hunter and over a million people were demanding punishment for the killer. Every year hundreds of lions are slaughtered for fun and profit, as are thousands of other animals in Africa. So what was different this time? Not only did this lion have a name, but his story was quite known as well. That made it easy to relate to him.

Cecil got into a big scrap with the relatives. He went through hardship and found a good friend. They were like brothers and took good care of each other and their families. How easily could this be a human story. Cecil was also very sociable and made himself available for tourists to take pictures. They loved him for it. He was very popular. Then he became a victim of deceit. He was lured out of a protected area, shot with an arrow and left to suffer for 40 hours before he was shot dead with a gun at close range. Then he was decapitated, his head to be mounted for a trophy.

primatesThroughout the ages, many individuals have questioned the way we treat animals. One of the best known of our times is Jane Goodall. The graphic novel Primates : the fearless science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas is the biography of three women scientists who overcame many obstacles to start changing the way animals were perceived – as without intelligence and emotions.

when elephants weepAfter exploring the emotional world of animals in the wild in his book When elephants weep, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson turned his attention to the world of  farm animals. In The pig who sang to the moon: the emotional world of farm animals he reveals that barnyard creatures have feelings too, even consciousness. There is a section dedicated to each type of farm animal, filled with beautiful anecdotes, scientific findings and historical backgrounds as well as Masson’s own observations. It is a heartwarming and eye-opening book for all animal lovers.

blue iguanaIn the fiction section, you can meet Clarice, the main character in Blue Iguana by Wendy Townsend. Clarice seems a bit weird. She gets into a fight with her teacher over dissecting a frog and doesn’t want to get her driver’s license for fear of running over an animal. On the recommendation of her school counselor she signs up for volunteer work with BIRP, an organization dedicated to protecting the rare and endangered Blue Iguana in the Cayman Islands. There she is forced to face unspeakable cruelty, but she also encounters kindness and compassion. This book is based on a true event.

uncagedAnd then there is 16 year old Shay, who in Uncaged by authors John Sandford and Michele Cook, takes on a ruthless corporation that conducts unspeakable experiments. She is determined to save her brother, who joined an animal rights group in breaking into Singular Corporation’s lab and got away with highly encrypted flash drives and a lab dog. Will the two teens be able to expose the evil truth? Action-packed from beginning to end, this book is a real thrill ride. Good luck putting it down! “Uncaged” is the first book in the “Singular Menace” series.

Howl12-year-old Robin just can’t stop herself from caring for animals. She begins rescuing wild animals and rehabilitates them in the barn. Although her father forbids it, she secretly continues to take in more and more fosterlings. Before you know it, Robin is running an illegal animal shelter. When she’s found out, she starts a campaign to continue her work. Will she have the courage to stand against the whole town? Well, you will have to read Howl by Karen Hood-Caddy to find out. Howl is also the first book in a series.

Cecil’s fate is a good opportunity to look at the attitudes humans have towards animals. We dearly love our pets, but how much thought do we give to those we mount on our wall, put on our plate, or use for our entertainment? And how does our relationship to other creatures reflect on us? As Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Additional recommended reading material:  1) Beg: A radical new way of regarding animals by Rory Freedman  2) Animal rights by Terry O’Neill  3) Endangered by Eliot Schrefer

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