Whale Thanks Rescuers

Whale Rescue

Recently a 50-ton female humpback whale had become hopelessly tangled in ropes and crab pots. Fortunately, a fisherman spotted her and called for help.

Divers took to the water in a daring rescue attempt. They had to cut the ropes with knives, and had the whale reacted, they could have been killed with a flip of her tail.

“When I was cutting the line going through the mouth, its eye was there winking at me, watching me,” Moskito [one of the rescuers] said. “It was an epic moment of my life.”

When the whale realized it was free, it began swimming around in circles, according to the rescuers. Moskito said it swam to each diver, nuzzled him and then swam to the next one.

“It seemed kind of affectionate, like a dog that’s happy to see you,” Moskito said. “I never felt threatened. It was an amazing, unbelievable experience.”

Thanks to the San Francisco Chronicle for this heartwarming story.


A Little Story for the New Year

What’s up?, originally uploaded by kartoffel.


Yesterday morning as I made my coffee, I noticed a dead-looking spider in the sink. I nudged it a bit to see if it was alive, but alas. Its legs were flaccid and there was no life inside. I told the spider I was so sorry.

Normally I would have put it down the drain, but for some reason I didn’t. And when I came back again an hour later, the spider had taken on more of a form. I nudged it again, and it reacted. I was so happy! I whispered to it that we would get it to a nice place, and with that, I carried it out into the garden where it could be in the sun and find all the food it needed.

Such a little story. But don’t all of us creatures need a little help sometimes?

Happy New Year, Friends!


Surfing Bulldog

‘I’m NOT a surfer’, originally uploaded by Cynr.

A friend of mine sometimes invites me to her family’s beach house in southern California. One of their neighbors has a bulldog who is a fanatic about the beach. The minute the dog arrives she runs as fast as she can into the water, crashing her thick body against the waves with full force.

When a surfboard is within sight, she runs to it, jumps on it, and implores her human friends to take her surfing. What a sight she is! With her human standing on the back of the board, she balances on the front, ears flapping, mouth open in the widest possible smile.To see this bulldog throw herself into the water with total abandon is to understand what it is like to do something passionately, wholeheartedly. If only all humans could experience such total joie de vivre!


How I Became a Vegetarian

Lil Pig, originally uploaded by UnoLobo.

One day a friend and I were driving in the countryside and came upon a pen of baby pigs owned by an agricultural college. We got out and walked to the pen.

The pigs ran up to us just like dogs would. They stood on their legs to reach us, wanting to be petted. What a sensation it was. Their skin was very dry, and I immediately understood why they want to be lubricated.

Their little tails would uncurl and sort of wag in delight as we lavished attention upon these sweet little creatures. I had heard that pigs are at least as intelligent as dogs, but what I was not prepared for was their affectionate nature.

From that moment on, I no longer could eat pigs. It was totally out of the question, just as it is with eating, say, dogs. That began my inevitable march toward vegetarianism. Later I spent time with some cows: they, too, were curious and full of personality.

I wonder: Americans eat many times more meat than we ever have. Is it because we so seldom get to experience the joy and spirit of farm animals?


Actor, Painter, Chimpanzee

cheeta.jpg While I was working at the National Gallery in London, the artist in residence was Peter Blake, who became famous to many because of his cover of the Beatles album, Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.As is the custom, the artist mounts an exhibition at the Gallery at the end of his stay. Peter Blake regarded another painter as his partner and collaborator, so he wanted that artist to share equal billing in the exhibition. The stage was set, then, for a historic first.As Britain’s foremost old masters museum, the National Gallery featured this artist, a chimpanzee, in the exhibition entitled Now We Are 64. The introductory wall showed photos of both artists, Peter Blake and Cheetah, with biographies. Indeed, they were both 64 years old, and like Blake, Cheetah had spent much of his life painting, especially after he retired from the movies.But what did the two artists have in common, really, I wondered? While Blake’s paintings showed subjects from pop culture, Cheetah’s were abstract: bold swaths painted for the sheer joy of movement and color. Was Blake deliberately poking a finger in the art critic’s eye? A chimpanzee at the National Gallery, home to the most accomplished masters: Vermeer, Van Eyck, Leonardo, Rembrandt–and now Cheetah? 


Mozart’s Starling

Starling stare, originally uploaded by Suzanne takes you down.

Now for my favorite historical animal story.

In 1784 the composer Wolfgang Mozart visited a pet shop, where he heard a starling sing of song of 17 notes.

Mozart immediately bought the bird, and for the next three years the two were constant companions.

The starling would sit on Mozart’s shoulder while the composer would create his scores. Many researchers have surmised that the bird would naturally have mimicked the music. But starlings subvert what they hear, abruptly halting a song in the middle, mixing up tunes and syntax in a way that must have amused Mozart to no end.

When his beloved starling died, Mozart was inconsolable. He staged a full funeral and burial, complete with priests, and wrote a poem dedicated to his feathered friend.

Six days later, he composed “A Musical Joke” (“Ein Musikalischer Spass”). With its humorous and unorthodox musical grammar, many believe that Mozart was honoring his departed pet. And two days after that, he made a change to the finale of a concerto (K 453) he was writing.

He added the starling’s 17 notes that began their friendship.