Going Heart to Heart with Wild and Endangered Animals
by Pea Horsley
It’s three o’clock in the afternoon on a bright and breezy day in March. I am standing in the grounds of the Cotswold Wildlife Park, in central England, with 15 students from my animal communication course and three curious emus.
It is the students’ first attempt at trying out their fledgling skills on real wild animals and the atmosphere is a mix of apprehension and excitement plus anxiety in case members of the general public come too close or interrupt. Curiosity gets the better of many bystanders who march up and demand to know why we are standing with our eyes shut and what my students are scribbling in their notebooks. Passing children scream and laugh. Animals get distracted. We get distracted. That’s the downside of working at places like this, although we are all very aware that without people visiting, the wild animals probably wouldn’t have a home at all.
Two emus get really close so we can see their long eyelashes framing huge amber eyes. They have such a good rapport with their keeper Nick that they let him to touch them. It is immensely rewarding for me, after five years of coming here, that Nick allows us to work inside the enclosure with them.
We begin communicating with the emus and then compare information. Nick is impressed as students describe their food (grey pellets and fruit – they pick the best bits of fruit out first) and say that the emus feel their job is to ‘meet and greet’ visitors at the park. They are the first animals visitors see, but they often feel overlooked as people race past them eager to get to more exciting things. Highly intelligent and sensitive, these graceful creatures just want their fair share of attention and appreciation, not to be rushed past and ignored. Nick nods in agreement and tells us it is absolutely true that most people don’t stop and look at the emus when they come in.
When I first started teaching animal communication here, I felt the keepers were a little sceptical. Coming from a scientific background they didn’t believe it was possible to connect telepathically with an animal, let alone an animal in their care. But as my students received information from the animals that they couldn’t possibly have known about, scepticism changed to amazement, in most cases anyway.
Of course people have differing attitudes to their work as in any profession. Some keepers see the animals in their care as sentient individuals and as a consequence have a better relationship with them both in their day-to-day contact and on a soul level. Whereas those keepers who focus more on the animal’s wild nature and refuse to recognize they also have feelings and thoughts seem to have a more distant relationship with their charges. I feel that both the animals and the keeper lose out in this scenario.
Part of my vocation as an animal communicator specializing in wild animals is to show people through the language of animal communication that we are all one and that what happens to our brother and sister species has an effect on our own.
My students get this immediately, first on an intellectual level and then on a heart and soul level as they begin to communicate. But I feel it is just as important that the people who care for the animals begin to think more about the connection they have and how to deepen it and listen with their hearts as well as their well-trained scientific heads. If it means that some people think it is nonsense, that's a price worth paying, because others see its true value.
Helping Wildlife at Risk
I am aware that wildlife parks and zoos attract their fair share of criticism. The place where I do my twice-yearly training courses, the Cotswold Wildlife Park, is one of many private wild animal collections linked to stately homes in the UK. Open to the public since 1970, it has 160 acres of parkland and gardens surrounding a listed Victorian manor house and is home to a variety of species of mammals, reptiles, birds and invertebrates from all over the world, many of them rare or endangered. They have done great work at the Park and their breeding programmes have helped maintain the existence of rare breeds.
I know that in an ideal world, these wild and endangered animals would be living in their natural habitat, in their homeland. But it’s not an ideal world. Numerous different scenarios, both man-made and natural, threaten their survival. So there are breeding programmes worldwide trying to ensure these threatened species do not become extinct, to be lost forever from our lives and from nature. And many private zoos, safari parks and wildlife centres participate in these schemes.
We Need to Hear Them
So where does this leave us? I leave the last word to the animals, who as ever, have much to teach us. “Do you want me to come here so people can learn to communicate with you?” I asked Chandra, an Asian lion. “We need you here,” he replied. “We want people to understand us. To listen to us.”
And that is the essence of the message that I am trying to help spread, via my classes, teleseminars, workshops and in my book, Heart to Heart.
Although their lives are far from natural, animals born or kept in captivity have a lot they can share with us. By understanding them on a deeper level we can have a clearer view of just how important their survival is for the planet and for evolution. We can connect with the truth that each one of us has a responsibility to do whatever we can, however small, to help ensure their survival.
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© 2011 Pea Horsley. All Rights Reserved.
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