Wild Life Samaritan

Think of an act of kindness and you’re likely to recall the ancient story about a Good Samaritan mentioned in the pages of a New Testament Bible. For all societies, that story hits a nerve in humanity hard enough to make it legendary. It is so because we’re compelled to respond with an emotional response arising from our deepest sense of humanity.

When it comes to emotion, perhaps there’s really no such thing as inaction, but that in every case of suffering we interact as one human to another with love and empathy. But what about the suffering of animals, for which a Good Samaritan gesture might also be expedient?

It seems some of us just don’t draw a line between one or the other; as if to say, suffering is suffering. Period. When it comes to Good Samaritans, who would’ve thought of Carol, the barely five foot, slender, super-tanned, middle-aged, vivacious woman who is quick to light up a smile when you strike up a conversation on Madeira Beach, Florida?

On the three-mile trip from John’s Pass Village to the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary on Indian Shores, the one question I wanted to ask her was, “Why’d you do it?”

I was puzzled considering the economic challenges most people face these days, and the most likely insignificant value one would place on the life of a half dead bird; a creature so frail and listless it was hard to ascertain any heartbeat or respiration. Yet, she was going to have to fork out multiple tens of dollars for this wild life rescue.

“It’s a Blue Jay.” She advised, as she held the injured animal, wrapped in a napkin and cradled in a tiny box. The bird too young to even have feathers, I wondered how she knew its specie. But it had been snatched from its nearby nest by a preying food-hunting hawk that apparently had its fill and left this one for dead on the sidewalk.

“You know a lot about birds, eh?” I said with eager interest, hoping to learn something from this seemingly avid avian. It turned out she was only guessing and hoping -hoping it was a “Jay”.

Blue Jay or not, she was already vested in the role of Florence Nightingale, making sure her patient would get the proper hospitalization and care upon arrival at the sanctuary; a hospital that similar to a human hospital, is equipped with emergency facilities, surgical center, bird injury recovery areas, and outdoor wild bird recuperation area.

I sat in the driver’s seat of this public transportation and couldn’t help thinking the whole thing was quite humorous, as I glanced at the endearment in the woman’s face in contrast to the satire I was gathering from the experience. She must’ve sensed my insensitivity.

“I couldn’t let it just lay there and die.” She retorted smiling and with gentle finger strokes repeated across the crown of the creature’s head. “Nobody would help the poor thing or give me a ride to take it to the bird sanctuary. I had to call you people and lock up the store and do it myself. I don’t care what it’s gonna cost, I had to do it.”

On arrival at the sanctuary the emergency aid was quick to point out that this little one was not a Blue Jay, but a Mangrove Cookoo. Bird identity was their forte, the 39 year-old Seabird Sanctuary and Avian Hospital having acquired a reputation as the largest wild bird hospital in the U.S.

For the Northern Gannets that fell victim to the Exxon Valdez oil spill in the Panhandle, the hospital was the sanctum that administered triage and stabilization for malnourished or injured birds. Luckily for this Mangrove Cookoo, Carol had come to its rescue in time, and after a quick directory search found Seabird to be the solution to the problem.

I called Carol several days later to inquire about the bird’s condition. “I don’t know.” She said, warming up to the subject. And I could hear the sunshine in her voice. “I didn’t check. But I already did my part, and I know they’re taking good care of it. For that I’m satisfied.”

Amazing! In a world where there are so much sound bites about one bad thing after another what is often ignored is our care dimensions. It seems we fail too often to express the rapture flowing from the tremendous good that keeps us alive and well from one generation to the next.

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