In truth, my contact with animals was limited to the standard dog, cat, and birds aplenty. Very rarely we saw a deer wandering around (okay, like three times in eighteen years) and it was enough that I remember each incident with clarity.
Then I move here. First of all, the winged species here aren't limited to your household robin. Macaws and parrots frequently fly past my window. (And they're freakin' loud.) One time I saw a monkey hanging from a tree just a couple blocks from my house. And don't get me started about the insects.
So I shouldn't have been too surprised when Little Prince came running in the other day, yelling about a "big dead rat" in the backyard.
Turns out it wasn't a rat. Or dead. Yet.
It was a dying possum - a little longer than my forearm, gray with white streaks. Quite cute, actually. She had obviously been attacked by a dog of some sort, and her breathing was shallow and raspy.
I guess I can say I can now see thestrals, since she passed away before we could do anything for her.
But what really caught our attention was the tiny little legs struggling underneath her. We figured the poor thing had just given birth, and the baby was still nursing when his mommy died.
We tried to pull the little thing out from under her (wearing gloves, I might add), but he just wouldn't let go. So we very carefully flipped the momma over.
And he wasn't nursing. He was BEING BORN.
After recovering from the initial shock, we commenced emergency surgery. We eased the baby possum out of her onto the grass - and another followed right behind. And another. And another. And another.
That would be SIX baby possums.
I knew full well that their chances of survival were slim to nil. A part of me realized that perhaps it would be kinder to just drown them, rather than let them die slowly of starvation. But my very being shunned away from the idea of murdering these tiny infants, deprived of their mother before they even got started on life. I'm a mom too. I'm sure she died thinking of her kids, possum though she was.
And even though humans might let a little baby die - deprived of their mother simply because she didn't want it - I couldn't do it. Because those little infants have feelings. They're still real possums - every bit as possum-ish as their mother. They can feel pain and loneliness, hunger and love. Just like a newborn baby.
So I had six little foster babies in the house until we found a loving home for them. (Or, at least, a forest animal hospital.)
Shouldn't we extend the same courtesy to our fellow human beings?