Two horses…The dignity of being.

Two horses were put together in the same paddock.
Night and day. In the night and in the day
wet from heat and the chill of the wind
on it. Muzzle to water, snorting, head swinging
and the taste of bay in the shadowed air.
The dignity of being. They slept that way,
knowing each other always.
Withers quivering for a moment,
fetlock and the proud rise at the base of the tail,
width of back. The volume of them, and each other’s weight.
Fences were nothing compared to that.
People were nothing. They slept standing,
their throats curved against the other’s rump.
They breathed against each other,
whinnied and stomped.
There are things they did that I do not know.
The privacy of them had a river in it.
Had our universe in it. And the way
its border looks back at us with its light.
This was finally their freedom.
The freedom an oak tree knows.
That is built at night by stars.

“The Weight” by Linda Gregg, from Chosen by the Lion. © Graywolf Press, 1994.


Lucy the Chimpanzee: A “haunting epic” tale from Radiolab that you will never forget

When I heard the life story of Lucy the chimpanzee on Radiolab I felt as if I had taken a spear through the heart. I connected with her innocence, her suffering, and her abandonment as if I were touching a downed live electrical wire.

Lucy was adopted at two days of age by a couple who raised her as their child. Later, after having been raised as a human, she was taken to Gambia and released on an island to live with a group of wild chimpanzees.

Lucy encountered one beautiful bit of good luck in her life: Janis Carter, who studied chimpanzees in Gambia, worked to help Lucy adjust to her new life. With great compassion and persistence she did what she could to ease Lucy’s sense of profound abandonment and loss.

Listen to this story. Once heard, you will never forget it. It haunts me now, almost a year since I first heard it, and I know it will stay with me for the duration.

May it inspire us all to protect the lives of animals everywhere. Click the photo for the link to the audio.

Lucy the Chimp: A True Tale of Staggering Sorrow & Loss

Lucy, wherever you are, may you be at peace now. May you live on in the heart of limitless grace.

Lucy the chimpanzee was raised as a human in the 1970s and 80s by Dr. Maurice and Jane Temerlin. Black and white images of Lucy with the Temerlins from Dr. Temerlin’s now out-of-print book, “Growing up Human,’ courtesy of Science and Behavior Books, Inc. Photos of Lucy in Gambia courtesy of Janis Carter. Slideshow produced by Sharon Shattuck.

Lucy clings to Janis Carter in their last meeting.

Lucy clings to Janis Carter in their last meeting. Then, resigned, drifts away into the forest.